What's the Difference Between a Grant and a Scholarship?

What’s the Difference Between a Grant and a Scholarship?

Families today struggle with the dilemma of how they’ll pay for college. In late 2021, CNBC reported Georgetown University research that found college costs increased by a whopping 169% since 1980. Yet, salaries for graduates only have risen 19%.

While you may experience some sticker shock when you see how much tuition, housing, books, and fees for college costs, it’s important to know there are options to help bring down these expenses. Grants and scholarships are two great avenues your student can pursue. Often these terms are used interchangeably, but they aren’t exactly the same.

What are Grants?

Grants are money awarded to students who demonstrate financial need. Most are awarded by federal and state governments, along with colleges and universities and doesn’t need to be paid back, provided the student maintains the specified GPA or other conditions required.

You’ve probably heard of the Federal Pell Grant, as it’s the largest grant program, and the first step to pursuing the Pell and other grants is to fill out the FAFSA. Even if you don’t think you’ll be eligible, you should still file the FAFSA. Many students are surprised at what they’re awarded. Even if it’s just a small amount, every bit helps, even if it just covers books and fees.

What are Scholarships?

Scholarships are similar to grants in that it is gifted money to help pay for higher education that doesn’t need to be paid back. They are offered by schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses, foundations, philanthropists, and religious institutions, to name common entities that offer money to students. The types of scholarships out there for students is overwhelming. You can find scholarships for:

  • Financial need: Different organizations look at “need” differently.
  • Merit: Including academic, athletic, artistic, to name just a few.
  • Talents: Some of these can be quite unusual!
  • Degree programs: Many scholarships are geared towards specific academics.

Other scholarships are awarded on student profiles, interests, or groups they may belong to.  You can use websites, such as Fastweb or CollegeBoard to search for them and locate their applications (there is no central one like for grants). Remember, organizations offering private money have criteria and are allowed to place restrictions on eligibility.

Tips for Being Awarded Money for College

Regardless of if you’re applying to receive grants or scholarships, there are a few key steps to take. Before you do the following, make sure you’re accessing the opportunity from a legitimate source. unfortunately there are many grant and scholarship scams circulating. Once you’ve vetted the grant or scholarship offer:

  • Apply early before money potentially runs out
  • Fill out applications fully
  • Supply any requested documentation
  • Be accurate in answers
  • Follow all directions carefully

For scholarships, check and double-check your essay and other listed criteria. Also, apply to as many as you reasonably can that you’re eligible for.

Contact Accolade Financial

Pursuing grants and scholarships is a lot of work and, as a result, millions of dollars go unclaimed each year. It’s worth the effort. Think ohttps://www.accoladefinancial.com/contact/f it this way—every dollar awarded is one less owed (plus less interest).

Our goal at Accolade Financial is to help students and their families explore all options to help find college success. To learn more about how we can help, schedule an appointment today.