Grants vs Scholarships vs Loans

By | May 17, 2024

Grants vs Scholarships vs Loans

If college is on your student’s agenda, there’s a good chance you’ve talked about the many financial alternatives you have for paying for it. The three primary options you have for helping to pay for your college education are loans, grants, and scholarships. These three financial instruments differ from one another, though, in a number of ways. Student loans, grants, and scholarships are various forms of financial aid designed to help students cover the expense of higher education. Grants and scholarships are examples of gift assistance, which means they are not repaid, in contrast to student loans, which are often repaid in full plus interest by borrowers.

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Scholarships are financial prizes that are designed to assist students in covering the costs of their education and college. The requirements for receiving a scholarship might change between programs that are awarded on the basis of merit or need. Many scholarship programs include requirements that applicants must fulfill in order to be considered, such as ones that are based on academic achievement, abilities, or social or intellectual distinction.

Although they come in a range of quantities, the average undergraduate scholarship award as of 2018-2019 is $9,520 and can pay for just one class or your whole college career. A wide range of institutions, commercial companies, foundations, and charitable organizations are other sponsors of scholarships.

Scholarships are a similar type of free money. In fact, aside from the name, it can occasionally be challenging to tell a grant from a scholarship. However, scholarships often tend to be awarded based on criteria other than financial need.

Scholarship eligibility

Some scholarships are quite specific since they often represent the fundamental beliefs or pursuits of the sponsor. For instance, some scholarships may be awarded based on academic performance and a specific GPA, while others may be awarded based on physical prowess and proficiency in particular sports. You may locate scholarships based on your region, race, major, extracurricular activities, interests, way of life, etc. You name it; there’s certainly a requirement for a scholarship someplace.

You can apply for scholarships through your school’s guidance counselor or by checking out the ones offered by local organizations or clubs. You can also search online for scholarships offered by other colleges.


Grants are gifts that are frequently given to students depending on their financial needs. They generally originate from state and federal governments, non-profit institutions, and educational institutions. They are similar to scholarships in that they have particular qualifying conditions that students must complete in order to be eligible.

Grants are free money, but there is a funding cap, so if you’re thinking about this as a financial aid option, you must apply as soon as possible to improve your student’s chances of getting the grant.

Grants Eligibility

Most grant programs, unlike scholarships, are need-based rather than merit-based. You will often need to provide financial details about your parents or guardians as well as yourself in order to be eligible for grants. Usually, the cost of attending college and your anticipated family contribution determine your eligibility for assistance (EFC). There is an income restriction for several state grants and university awards as well. You won’t be eligible if your family’s income is too high.

The good news is that applying for grants may be done in almost one place. When you fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you are immediately eligible for several state and school grants as well as federal awards like the Federal Pell Grant.
The source of each is where grants and scholarships diverge the most.

Scholarships are much less likely to be provided by government agencies than grants. Instead, scholarship programs may be provided by schools, people, companies, families, associations, or a variety of other groups.


A loan is a money you borrow with the promise to repay it to the lender within the timeframe specified by the lender. Federal student loans, which are granted by the government, and private student loans, which are issued by institutions other than the government, such as banks and credit unions, are both options for students to borrow money. You must prove your capacity to repay the debt in order to be approved for a private student loan, often with the help of a cosigner.

The US Department of Education disburses federal student loans. Borrowers who are students may be eligible for either subsidized or unsubsidized loans. For one straightforward reason—lower, fixed interest rates—federal student loans are the rock stars of the student loan industry. Federal student loans do, however, have yearly and cumulative restrictions. Federal student loans may not be enough to pay for your complete college career, even with scholarships and grants.

If so, private student loans could be your best alternative after that. Banks, credit unions, and internet lending institutions all provide private student loans. Private student loans sometimes have higher interest rates and less protection for borrowers than federal loans, such as grace periods, alternatives for income-based repayment, and deferment options.

Primary Differences: It is expected that you would repay the loan when you take it out. On the other hand, grants and scholarships are not subject to repayment. You may retain the money you are given. The methods used to determine each applicant’s eligibility for scholarships, grants, and loans represent another significant distinction. Loan money is typically easier to get than grants and scholarships.

When should you submit a scholarship, grant, or loan application?

For college expenses, you’ll probably need a mix of grants, loans, and scholarships. Make sure to submit the FAFSA first in order to receive the funding you require for school and to have access to federal grants, loans, and scholarships.

Additionally, you should look for and apply for as many private grants and scholarships as you can. Searching and applying for grants and scholarships on a regular basis is a smart idea.

Once you have an estimate of how much grant and federal help you will get, apply for private student loans. You may apply for a private student loan at College Ave in under three minutes, and you’ll get a decision right away.

I hope that this article on Grants vs Scholarships vs Loans was helpful.