Around 58% of families use scholarships to pay a portion of college costs. About 7.5 million students have been rewarded the Pell Grant each year. There’s no denying how expensive college is, but there’s also no denying just how important a college experience can be.
That’s where understanding a grant vs. a scholarship comes into play. Know your college finance relief options and take advantage of this experience!
The last thing you want to do is let go of your college dreams due to financial reasons. You’ve already imagined yourself walking down the college hallways with the smell of new textbooks in the air. You arrive on campus early to ensure you have enough time to find your class and pick a seat.
You’ve already decided what your major is, or maybe you still need time to figure that out while there. Either way, your college dreams are about to become a reality. Continue reading below for a full grant guide and scholarship guide to ensure you can afford college!
Table of Contents
What Is a Grant?
Grants are a form of financial aid generally given out by the state or federal government. Colleges, non-profit organizations, and private organizations can provide grants as well. The amount rewarded depends on the type of grant you receive.
All grants offer a different reward amount, so it’s best to use more than one when covering the cost of college. You do not have to pay back the money rewarded to you from a grant.
Qualifying For a Grant
Not everyone will qualify for every grant. In most situations, grants are need-based. You’ll most likely qualify for a grant depending on your financial situation. Because of this, in order to qualify for a grant, you’ll need to provide your financial information and your parent’s financial information.
If you live on your own and are listed as the head of household on your tax forms, then you won’t have to provide your parent’s information. Your legibility might depend on your specific college’s cost, your expected family contribution, and your income. Unfortunately, some grants won’t reward you money if your income is too high.
Applying For a Grant
To apply for various grants available to you at one time, you need to fill out your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The application can take several minutes to fill out, but you want to make sure you take your time and answer all of the questions correctly. You can visit the FAFSA website to get your application started or head to your college’s financial aid office to ask for help if needed.
When you submit your FAFSA application, you’re automatically considered for the state, school, and federal grants. Do keep in mind that there’s a strict application due date and failing to meet that date will cost you to lose all possibilities of receiving a grant. Speak with your college’s financial aid office for details on when you need to have your FAFSA submitted.
What Is a Scholarship?
Scholarships are another form of free money given to you to pay for college costs without the requirement of paying that money back. Scholarships are mainly provided by businesses, individuals, families, schools, community organizations, and other similar sources.
Scholarships, unlike grants, aren’t based on your financial needs. Instead, scholarships are rewarded to those who meet other requirements. These requirements might include a number of volunteer hours, a certain GPA, written essays, and more.
Qualifying For a Scholarship
There are many scholarships available to you. Although you might not qualify for one scholarship, you’re sure to qualify for another, several others actually. You need to take the time to find the right scholarships for you.
Most scholarships will reflect the applicant’s core values or interests. You can find scholarships that are specifically for those interested in playing a certain sport, learning about a certain field of study, living in a certain geographic location, and so on.
Applying For a Scholarship
While still in high school, it’s best to schedule regular meetings with a guidance counselor who can point you in the right direction for various scholarships you might qualify for. It’s ideal to start preparing while still in high school. This is the best time to find scholarships, bring up your GPA, complete volunteer hours, write your application essays, and more.
You can also find scholarships online or by speaking with organizations and clubs you’re a member of. There are even practice tests you can take for specific scholarships that require students to pass an exam. For example, the ACER scholarship practice test provides students with the tools they need to succeed and be rewarded with the scholarship they’re after.
Why Apply For Both?
Grants and scholarships both help to supplement your college savings. When you combine the two together, you save even more money and may even cover the total cost of college tuition. For this reason, you want to apply for as many grants and scholarships as possible.
There’s no cap on how many you can receive and use to pay for college. In some situations, students who are rewarded with multiple grants and scholarships have money left over after paying their tuition that they can then use on college textbooks and other school supplies.
Grant vs. Scholarship: What’s Best For You?
Understanding the difference between grants and scholarships is always a good starting place. It’s important to know what’s required in order to qualify for both so you can receive the most financial aid possible for your college experience. When considering a grant vs. a scholarship, what’s the right option for you?
We recommend applying for both. Apply for several grants and scholarships to then bring them all together to hopefully cover the majority of your college costs if not all. For more educational topics similar to this one, continue to check back here often.
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