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Grants and Scholarships: Grants vs. Scholarships

Definitions

Have you heard of scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans? Ever wonder what the difference between them all are? This page will explain what each form of financial aid means, which can help you select which option might be best for you. 

Scholarships

Scholarships are a great way to pay for your education! The best part is that money from a scholarship does NOT need to be paid back. 

"Most scholarships are [usually] merit based [but can be based off financial need or other qualifying criteria]. This means that they are awarded to students with certain qualities, such as proven academic or athletic ability. Many scholarships have rules — maintaining a certain GPA, for example — that you have to follow to continue receiving aid." - The College Board

Fellowships

Fellowships are great opportunities to get funding and experience later in your education. 

"Fellowships can range from short-term programs to multi-year commitments. Some fellowship awards are limited to specific areas of study, while others are open to all outstanding students. You’ll find both independent programs and school-specific fellowships. Not only do fellowships provide funding, but they are also usually quite prestigious. Winning a spot in a fellowship program is very competitive, as they are designed to give students the chance to focus on academic research and access development opportunities that will help students make contacts and significantly advance in their course of study." - College Scholarship

Note: Fellowships often behave like a job (as you are getting paid to complete a project) and you will receive a stipend instead of money going toward specific school costs. These often get categorized as taxable income. 

Grants

Grants are different from scholarships. However, they are similar in the sense that they are NOT paid back. 

"Most grants are [usually] need based [but can be based off merit or other qualifying criteria]. This means that they are usually awarded based on your or your family’s financial situation." - The College Board

"When you submit your FAFSA, you’ll automatically find out if you qualify for a need-based federal Pell Grant. Depending on your circumstances, you may also qualify for other limited federal grants like the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, the TEACH Grant, or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant." - College Scholarships 

Loans

Loans have to be paid back, most often with growing interest.