Many students require some form of financial aid to afford higher education. Whether you borrow a federal student loan from the government or a private loan from a financial institution, there will come a time when you have to pay the loan back (and, in most cases, with interest). However, there are two forms of financial aid that recipients do not have to pay back: grants and scholarships.
Scholarships are a form of financial aid awarded based on various criteria that are usually merit-based. Although many scholarships are awarded based on financial need, other scholarships are awarded based on academic merit, ethnicity, military affiliation, athletic skill, and more. There are even scholarships that are open to anyone, and simply require an application to be considered.
Since there is no limit to the number of scholarships an individual can apply for, it’s wise to look up the different scholarships you may be eligible for and the application process and criteria.
Grants, on the other hand, are handed out strictly based on a financial need. Funds for grants come primarily from federal and state governments. To apply for a grant, you must first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which will then be reviewed to determine your grant eligibility and how much money, if any, you will receive. Some grants require an additional application as well.
Typically, students with the most financial need will be eligible to receive the most money from federal grants. For instance, the Pell Grant is awarded to students who display “exceptional financial need”. However, certain grants are industry-specific; for example, the TEACH Grant is awarded to students who plan on pursuing a career in teaching. As with scholarships, it’s important to do the necessary research to understand which grants you are eligible for.
Since you do not need to repay grants and scholarships for college, they are the best financial aid option for students pursuing higher education. Every dollar you receive as part of these financial aid packages is a dollar less that you have to supplement yourself or borrow.