Last Updated on July 31, 2023 by Lori Pace
Both scholarships and grants are types of gift aid. Gift aid does not have to be earned, or repaid, like student loans and student employment. While the terms scholarship and grant are often used interchangeably, grant vs scholarship have significant differences.
In short: Scholarships are based more on merit. Grants are based more on financial need.
What Is A Grant?
A grant applicant must demonstrate financial need to be eligible. This is the difference between a college’s cost of attendance (COA), and expected family contribution (EFC). Federal Pell Grants, for example, are only based on the EFC. In order to be eligible for state grants such as the Cal Grants or New York TAP Grants there is often an income cutoff.
Federal and state governments, colleges, and universities usually award grants. Federal Pell Grants are the largest single grant program. Nearly half of all grants are from colleges and universities. More than 25% are Federal Pell Grants. The rest are equally split between state grant programs and military student aid. You can apply for grants by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
What Is A Scholarship?
Merit is the only criterion for eligibility for a scholarship. Merit scholarships are those that are based on academic, athletic, or artistic talent. You may also receive scholarships based on extraordinary talents such as the ability to make a prom dress out of duct tape.
Private scholarship providers such as unions, foundations, philanthropists, and unions often award scholarships. A handful of colleges offer full-tuition academic scholarships. These are awarded based on the student’s high school grade points (GPA), admissions test scores, and class rank.
Some scholarships are similar to grants. Many grants require that the student maintain a minimum GPA in order to renew their need-based grant.
Why Apply For Grant Vs Scholarship?
Scholarships and grants can be used to supplement college savings, reduce student debt, and assist in reducing student workload. Each dollar you win will be about one dollar less than what you have to borrow.
Besides grants and scholarships, there is another way to support your studying journey which is financial aid. The differences between financial aid vs scholarships are not too many but it’s good to take into account before considering which one to apply for.