Scholarships and grants are often used interchangeably. And for good reason. They’re both free money for college. This means that, unlike student loans, neither scholarships nor grants need to be repaid. But why the different labels? The difference is small.
The Difference Between College Scholarships and College Grants
What is a college grant?
Grants are free money for college / university and are normally funded by a government agency.
They can be funded by the federal government, like, the Federal Pell Grant, or by local government – state, county, or city.
The first step to applying for grants is to fill out the FAFSA. Often the university will automatically include grants in the financial aid package.
However, it’s a good idea to also search for local grants as they may require different application process.
This search for grants should happen each year.
What is a college scholarship?
Like grants, scholarships are also free money for school. Scholarships tend to be funded by groups, companies, individuals or anything that is not the government.
Thousands of scholarships available. And many are not merit based.
So, a high GPA is not always a requirement.
A small number of students are able to find 1 or 2 scholarships to cover all their college costs. But, for everyone else, perseverance, focus and a lot of effort can pay off.
Here’s how one student was able to pay for her college after applying for over 300 scholarships!
Like grants, it’s important to continuously search for scholarships. Many students only search during their senior year of high school and then stop once they’re in college.
With so many scholarships available, and new ones being funded all the time, it’s a good idea to be constantly on the hunt.
But, are there times when you may have to pay back a scholarship or grant?
It’s rare, but typically, this only happens when a student leaves college before finishing the year or the semester – whichever one the financial award covered.
Depending on the terms of the scholarship or grant, a student may be required to complete the semester or have to repay the scholarship or grant. So, make sure to keep all the paperwork.
If money for school is tight, make sure to check with the school for help before withdrawing.