Learning the Difference Between Grants and Scholarships

Whether college is something you have dreamt of for years, or simply the next logical step toward your life goals, you are bound to gain invaluable knowledge, experience, and friendships during your education. However, navigating through the application process is often fraught with hurdles, the most onerous of which is figuring out how to pay tuition. Searching for affordable degree programs and applying for financial aid can seem overwhelming, especially when faced with unfamiliar vocabulary. One of the most commonly misunderstood distinctions are the differences between scholarships and grants. That is why we at Arkansas Baptist College have put together this handy guide to help make those differences easy to understand, so you can get back on track to achieving your educational goals. Read on to learn more!

They’re Not Loans

This one is actually a similarity, but it is important to note that grants and scholarships are not loans. They do not have to be paid back.

However, grant and scholarship money is not necessarily free. Beyond their listed qualifications, most grants and scholarships have certain stipulations that must be met. If you do not meet these stipulations, you can lose the money given to you. What’s more, if you lose a grant for any reason, you may have to pay back part or even all of that money. However, while you can lose both a grant and a scholarship, you do not have to pay back scholarship money.

Merit Versus Need-Based

While there are no rules that define what a scholarship or grant can be awarded for, a general distinction is that while scholarships tend to be merit-based, grants can be merit- or need-based.

In other words, you are more likely to receive a scholarship if you excel at something, like sports or academics. Grants, on the other hand, may reward merit, but are also available on a need basis. One of the most common examples of a need-based grant is the Pell Grant, a federal grant reserved for those with financial need.

Again, there can be some overlap between the two, but the general rule of thumb is that scholarships are merit-based, while many grants tend to be need-based.

The Source

Many grants originate on the federal or state level, meaning that the money you receive comes from the government. Scholarships, however, can come from just about anywhere. From organizations to individuals, scholarships are diverse and easy to find. As such, it is important to do a little research on your own, and become familiar with the source of your financial aid!

The Application Process

With your time at a premium, it is imperative to weigh the time investment versus the potential reward when applying for financial aid. Understanding the difference between grants and scholarships can help when making these important decisions.

Many grants will be offered automatically upon submission of your FAFSA ( remember to fill this out in a timely manner!). Scholarships, however, often require that you seek them out and complete an application. While just as rewarding as grants, applying for scholarships is generally more time-intensive. Keep this in mind when searching for potential financial assistance.

Still Need Help?

Arkansas Baptist College not only offers affordable degree programs and low out-of-state tuition, but also makes applying for financial aid for college easy! If you are still struggling with the difference between grants and scholarships, or just want a little guidance on financial aid in general, feel free to check out our online resources or get in touch with one of our helpful and friendly staff members.

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