• money Differences between grants for college and scholarships

    Both scholarships and grants for college are free money to help you pay for your education. Unlike student loans, you don’t have to pay back grants or scholarships, except under certain circumstances, like withdrawing early from a program or a change in your enrollment status.

    The biggest difference between college grants and scholarships is that grants for college are typically need-based. Scholarships may be need-based or merit-based, which means they’re given out based on some kind of ability, hobby, ethnicity, religion, etc.


    Follow these steps when looking for college grants

    1. Fill out the FAFSA

      Both federal and state governments give out college grants. To find out if you qualify and to become eligible, you need to fill out the FAFSA. This allows colleges to determine how much financial aid you qualify for. Financial aid helps students and their families pay for college by covering educational expenses. Grants, work-study, and federal student loans can all be part of your financial aid package from a school.
    2. Submit the FAFSA before the deadline

      Many grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. So complete your FAFSA early—as soon as you can after the starting date of October 1. Your family’s tax returns are needed to complete the FAFSA, so you should set aside time to gather those documents before you start the application.
    3. Read your financial aid offer

      After you fill out your FAFSA, you’ll receive financial aid offers from the colleges that accepted you. Your offers will tell you if you’re eligible for any college grants, among other types of financial aid, like scholarships, work-study, and federal student loans. You don’t need to accept every piece of financial aid that’s offered to you.

    Where to find and apply for college scholarships

    Here are four ways to find scholarship opportunities:

    • Look at your hobbies in a new way. Something you do or love may just be able to get you a scholarship. Look for scholarships based on your hobbies, sports, or other interests. 

    • Register for Scholarship Search. Pick one that is reputable and beware of scams. Never pay to apply for financial or a scholarship. Watch out for agencies looking to profit from promising you scholarship money. 

    • Meet with your school counselor and other community members to see what local scholarships are available. 

    • Consider scholarships for minority students. Not just ethnicity but men looking to major in a female dominant field (Such as nursing) or women looking to major in a male dominant field (such as engineering).

    When to apply for scholarships

    NOW!  Apply for scholarships early and often. Some scholarship deadlines are as early as a year before you start college. You don’t need to wait until you’ve made your final decision about your school to apply.


    Scholarship application tips

    As you get ready to apply for college scholarships, keep in mind that different scholarships have their own qualifying criteria and require certain documents. These tips can help as you choose which scholarships to apply for:

    • Be ready with an essay. Many scholarships require you to write an essay based on the scholarship. Have an essay ready that you may be able to use for multiple scholarships. It could be a personal statement, or explanation of why you are interested in a particular field. Never shy away from writing an essay. It could help you get the few extra dollars needed to pay for school. 
    • Be careful.
      You shouldn’t have to pay for scholarships or for scholarship searches. School counselors and school financial aid offices can recommend reputable options, like Sallie Mae's free  Scholarship Search tool.
    • Be thorough.
      Don’t overlook smaller scholarships. Even a few hundred dollars can help offset the cost of textbooks and supplies.
    • Be honest.
      Don't exaggerate your grades, memberships, skills, or qualifications. You’re more likely to receive scholarships if you apply for the ones that match your interests and skills.
    • Be proactive.
      Apply for scholarships every year you’re in college. Approximately 50 percent of available scholarships are for students already enrolled in college.
    • Be diligent.
      Pay attention to details. Some scholarships require you to write an essay while others may want letters of recommendation. Send in what’s requested and proofread everything. Typos and missing materials can be the difference between winning or losing a scholarship.
    • Be on time.
      Some scholarships are very quick and easy to apply for. Others take a little more time. Meet all deadlines. If the scholarship application can’t be submitted electronically, use certified mail. Missing a deadline could disqualify you.




    Information borrowed from the world wide web at: https://www.salliemae.com/college-planning/financial-aid/understand-college-grants/