Grants and Scholarships: What's The Difference?

Grants and Scholarships: What's The Difference?

June 11, 2020
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Billions of dollars in grants and scholarships are awarded each year for a variety of different reasons – odds are you qualify for something.

If you are researching ways to fund your education, you've probably read a lot about government grants and scholarships. After all, pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree can be expensive, and anything you can do to reduce your out-of-pocket cost helps. The notion that you could be eligible for some financial assistance that doesn't require repayment is compelling.

But far too many people never get around to applying for a grant or scholarship, even though they are likely eligible for aid. Most simply don't think they will qualify. It's common to think that the amount available simply won't be worth the effort of filling out the application.

Here's the reality: billions of dollars in grants and scholarships are awarded each year for a variety of different reasons – financial need, academic merit, ethnicity, religion, community service, even more – and odds are you qualify for something.

While education loans do need to be paid back, grants and scholarships are different because they do not need to be paid back.

How They Differ

In all likelihood, neither grants or scholarships will cover the full cost of your education, but they will help make it more affordable, and every bit helps.

Grants are usually awarded based on financial need, helping low income students pursue an education. Scholarships, which are typically merit-based, are awarded to students who demonstrate academic strength.

How Much Money Is There?

Of the billions of dollars that are earmarked for education scholarships and grants, 37% comes from the Federal government, and 41% comes from colleges.

All of the money available doesn't even get claimed – only two thirds of undergraduate full-time students who could qualify were awarded a grant or scholarship through the FAFSA application. Those who missed out simply didn't apply.

That's right – every year, there are millions of dollars specifically allocated for grant and scholarship applicants that aren't claimed because people either didn't complete the application. In fact, 49 percent of people eligible for the Pell Grant would have qualified for an average of over $3,500 – but never applied.

On average, the total aid awarded to undergraduate students was over $8,400, while graduate students averaged over $9,200.

Get Started Applying Soon

There's a lot of free education money available, but in order to see how much you can get, you have to apply. Start as soon as possible by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and search for information on scholarships. Take advantage of online services like ScholarshipOwl to make your scholarship search easier.

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