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Grants and Scholarships

Grants and Scholarships are often lumped together when people talk about student financial aid. In fact they are two very different sources of money for school.

The most important thing to know is this: you do not pick one or the other when you are looking for financial aid. No matter what, you should always include both of them in your plans. You can qualify for and get money from both of them in order to pay for school. We can't emphasize it strongly enough: go after both grants and scholarships!

Here we explain the differences you should understand between grants and scholarships. We also explain how and where to pursue each one so that you can make the best use of your time.

Money From Grants And Scholarships

Grants and Scholarships both represent money that you never have to pay back. The basic difference is that grants for school are provided based on financial need. Scholarships are typically awarded based on some sort of merit (e.g. a high GPA, a special talent, athletic ability etc). Scholarships may also be provided through contests and drawings, many based solely on luck.


There are two types of grants for school provided by the federal government:

  1. Pell Grants are awarded based on the student's financial need. The current maximum award amount is $5500.
  2. Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants are also funded by the federal government but are administered by the school and only some schools participate in this program. They are provided in response to greater financial need and are given to students who will be receiving a Pell Grant. This award is applied first before the Pell Grant, and a fixed total amount of funds is available. Since awards are provided on a first come, first served basis you shold get your application in as early as possible! All applications are made via the FAFSA form.


There are literally millions of scholarships available in the United States. They are offered by schools, religious organizations, service groups, non-profit organizations, professional associations, private foundations, large and small businesses and more. They may range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars and are not reserved only for top students.

There are scholarships for just about anyone but it does take some time and effort to find the ones that are right for you. There are also important guidelines to follow to submit a high quality application. However, this is something you can do and scholarships can be a tremendous source of money to allow you to continue your education. We walk you through the process to make it as painless - and as successful -- as possible. Start with our article How To Get A Scholarship and you'll be on your way!