Scholarships vs Grants: 5 Key Differences You Should Know

Scholarships vs grants are both financial aid that is given to help students pay for college. 

However, scholarships and grants are not to be paid back.

As such, they are called gift aid.

Most scholarships and grants are awarded based on financial need and academic achievement.

You should apply for scholarships or grants if you are considering going to college to help you raise funds for your studies. 

Even though scholarships and grants are both gift aid, there are differences you should know about them. 

This will guide you in deciding which of them you should apply for.

So, in this article, you will learn about the important aspects of scholarships vs grants, the differences, similarities, and meaning. 

What is a Scholarship? 

A scholarship is financial assistance granted to a student based on need, academic achievement, or other criteria for schooling. 

There are several types of scholarships, but the most common ones are merit-based and need-based. 

The donor or sponsor of the scholarships sets the criteria for recipient selection.

Meanwhile, the grantor precisely defines how the money is to be applied. 

However, the funds are used for tuition, books, room, board, and other expenses tied to a student’s educational cost through the university. 

Scholarships are commonly awarded using a variety of factors such as academic achievement, departmental and community involvement, employment experience, areas of study, and financial need.

Check Out: 25 Scholarships for International Students in Germany (2022)

Types of Scholarship for College students

There are several scholarship types awarded to college students ranging from: 

  • Merit-based scholarship
  • Need-based scholarship
  • Full Ride Scholarship
  • Government scholarship
  • Employer-sponsored Tuition Assistance
  • Identity-based Scholarships
  • Athletic Scholarships
  • Military Scholarships
  • Activity-based Scholarships

1. Merit-Based Scholarship

A merit-based scholarship is a form of financial assistance given to students based on skill or academic achievements. 

These scholarships can include athletic or artistic abilities, high test scores, or excellent grades. 

However, students who receive merit aid may be required to maintain their school work above a certain grade point average or GPA.

For example, the National Merit Scholarship Program is one such way students can earn merit aid.

2. Need-based Scholarship 

Need-based scholarships are determined by students’ financial situation other than merit.

In this case, the student’s family has a household income that does not exceed a certain threshold. 

For example, the Greenhouse Scholars Program is awarded to students with a household income below $70,000. 

However, some of these scholarships may also have additional requirements like a minimum GPA, academic accomplishments, demonstration of leadership, and extracurricular activities. 

3. Full Ride Scholarship

These types of scholarships can be merit or need-based scholarships. 

However, they cover the full tuition and other educational expenses of recipients. The Fully Funded Scholarships are examples of this scholarship. 

4. Government Scholarships

Government scholarships are offered, whether local, state, or federal.

These options depend on the country; the requirements to qualify for this aid will also vary. 

In addition, the government’s scholarships can also go toward specific programs such as helping students afford to study abroad.

5. Employer-sponsored Tuition Assistance

Employers sometimes make the difference that enables someone to complete a post-secondary education. 

A company provides employer-sponsored scholarships and tuition aid to support employees seeking to further their education and skills. 

For example, companies such as Chipotle, Walmart, and Starbucks provide financial support to employees who return to school. 

6. Identity-based Scholarships

An identity-based scholarship is a financial aid awarded to underrepresented groups to encourage participation in programs and fields that tend to be homogenous. 

Moreover, these can be students from specific ethnic and cultural backgrounds and are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Also, students who have learning or mobility differences. 

In addition, many of these scholarships require a certain GPA or pursuit of a particular subject or career field.

7. Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships are awarded to students who participate in various sports ranging from football to hockey. 

However, some of these scholarships offer full rides covering the entire cost of tuition, room and board, and books. 

In addition, students must meet some requirements like a minimum GPA, leadership skills, and extracurricular activities. 

More so, some scholarships may require that students demonstrate financial need.

8. Military Scholarships

Military scholarships are available for all five branches of the U.S. armed forces: the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy. 

This scholarship typically goes to active or reserve service members and veterans. 

Moreover, military scholarships may extend to family members.

Furthermore, this type of aid may depend on grades or financial needs.

9. Activity-based Scholarships

Activity-based scholarships are based on a student’s involvement with a profession, hobby, or extracurricular activities. 

Moreover, these types of scholarships are funded through philanthropic donations or foundations partnered with the school. 

What Requirements Do You Need to Apply for Scholarships

The essential scholarship requirements depend on the donors, sponsors, and scholarship committee.

However, some of the requirements include: 

  • Academic Requirements
  • Financial Requirements
  • Extracurricular Requirements

In addition, there are other requirements such as citizenship status or place of employment for some scholarships. 

How to Get a Scholarship as a College Student

There are thousands of ways to get scholarships for current college students.

These options are available online search tools or scholarships in your school or community. 

However, you can follow these steps to find a scholarship for college students. 

  • Fill out the FAFSA
  • Fill out a CSS
  • Use scholarship search tools

Fill out the FAFSA

If you are looking for a scholarship opportunity.

Ensure to fill out the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) to get financial assistance from the state and federal financial aid. 

The FAFSA is a starting point for letting the federal government, state government, and colleges know you want financial aid.

Fill out a CSS

The CSS Profile is required by about 240 colleges that offer scholarships in addition to the FAFSA. 

If you attend any of these schools, you may not receive financial aid from your school without filling out this form.

More so, the CSS Profile requires quite a bit more financial information than the FAFSA, as well as a small fee. 

Use scholarship search tools

In addition, scholarship search tools can help you find the scholarships that best match your talents, community service contributions, and academic abilities. 

However, you need to be strategic when using searching sites and pick the scholarships you’d most likely win.

Furthermore, before submitting your application.

Study the essay and scholarship rules and guidelines carefully to ensure you submit your writing and application answers for the best chance possible.

What is a Grant for College Students?

Grants for college students are a form of financial aid that is not repaid. 

They cover education-related expenses, such as tuition and fees, room and board, and books and supplies.

However, grants are awarded based on financial need, although sometimes merit can come into play.

Types of Grants

There are numerous grants to help cover financial needs specific to demographics, primary or location. 

The Federal and state governments, schools, and private institutions offer college students grants.

Here are some types of grants we have:

  • Federal Grant
  • State Grant
  • School Grant
  • Private Grant

1. Federal Grants

The United States government provides federal grants for students attending colleges, universities, and career schools in the country. 

The federal grants include:

  • Pell Grant: This is for students who demonstrate economic need
  • Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): This grant is for students who display exceptional financial
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant: This is for students whose parent or guardian died as a result of military deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH): This grant is for students who agree to teach in a high-need field in an area serving low-income students

2. State Grants

The State grants are awarded for a large cross-section of criteria. 

These grants are intended for students who stay in-state. 

However, some of these grants are awarded to keep college graduates employed in their alma mater state.

While others are organized to support high school students within the state school system.

In addition, the amounts of states award vary.

But the average award is only $500 in 21 other states.

3. School Grants

Each school offers grants or private endowments earmarked for grants that cover an array of eligibility requirements.

According to the College Board.

It reports that between 2010 and 2020, grant aid from schools increased by a whopping 72%, with an average award of $17,250 per student.

4. Private Grants

Private grants come from businesses and organizations outside of the government or school.

They can be found in: 

  • Philanthropic Institutions
  • Professional Associations
  • Corporations and businesses
  • Advocacy Groups
  • Religious Institutions
  • Trade Unions

What are the Requirements to Apply for Grants

Even though the requirement for grants varies.

Here are some of the basic eligibility requirements for grants:

  • Applicants must be eligible for federal student aid programs. 

The Free Application determines the federal aid for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), so be sure to submit one. 

  • Applicants must be United States citizens or eligible non-citizens.
  • Applicants are enrolled in an eligible degree or certificate program at your college or career school.
  • They must be undergraduate students who are enrolled full-time or part-time. 

How to Apply for Grants as a College Student

Here is the process involved in applying for grants:

  • Complete FAFSA

Federal, state, and some school grants require Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. 

  • Complete Additional Forms

Some states, schools, and private grants may require additional applications such as the CSS Profile.

So, ensure to ask and note all deadlines.

  • Complete Additional Information

Some grants require other supporting documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal essays. 

Ensure to find everything needed, and start a file to keep things organized.

5 Key Differences Between Scholarships and Grants.

Having talked about scholarships vs grants above. It’s time to learn some key differences between scholarships and grants. 

Scholarships  Grants 
Scholarships are primarily awarded to students.  Grants are provided to individuals for various needs such as education, projects, or business
Scholarships have rules, and a specific score has to be maintained by the individual. Grants don’t have specific requirements.
Scholarships are mainly awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence.  Grants are offered to individuals who are unable to fund their education. 
Scholarships are awarded by businesses, foundations, philanthropists, and nonprofits. Grants are usually awarded by federal and state governments and academic institutions
Scholarships are given to those who are explicitly entering college or university.  Grants may be offered to any student of any standard

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Both scholarships and grants are considered “gift” aid that does not need repayment. However, there are slight differences between scholarships vs grants

Scholarships are usually merit-based and are offered by various organizations, businesses, and schools. 

Meanwhile, grants are awarded by the federal government, individual states, or the school an applicant has chosen to attend. 

Grants are given out based on financial need. This means you may not be eligible for grants if your family income exceeds a certain level, but you may be eligible for scholarships. 

We hope this post answers the questions you seek on scholarships vs grants

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