What’s the Difference Between a Grant and a Scholarship?


College is expensive. Very few students get by without getting some sort of additional financial help along the way. Financial aid usually comes in the form of grants and scholarships applied to the cost of attending the university to bring down the price a bit.

The real question is- what’s the difference between a grant and a scholarship? Knowing the answer will help you access free financial assistance that you might not know you qualify for. Here’s the difference between these two forms of aid and how you can gain access to them.


The government gives grants to boost the economy and help fund services for citizens to utilize. You have to apply for them in order to show that you fit the criteria necessary to receive financial aid. If you qualify, you then receive federal assistance to pay for school that you won’t have to pay back the way you would a loan.

Although you don’t have to pay for your grant down the road, there are often conditions that you’re obligated to fulfill in order to receive grant money. For example, Pell Grants are a popular choice of aid that helps a large number of students afford their education. In order to apply, you have to submit your FAFSA form every year that you enroll in college.


Scholarships are rewards given to students according to their academic and extracurricular achievements. They often require a written essay that proves the validity of your qualifications and an in-person interview to screen applicants. 

Oftentimes, donors have privately funded scholarships created in their honor to assist a niche category of students in funding their education. Be sure to research your school of choice to see if any scholarships fit your description- you never know what might be out there!


Grants are given based on financial need, and scholarships are given based on merit. Most of the information you provide to qualify for a grant includes annual income, parental contribution, and the overall cost of attending school. Meanwhile, scholarships are much more selective because they are based on the performance of the applicants. They also can reap a higher reward for those who are eligible, sometimes covering the entire cost of tuition.


Both grants and scholarships are forms of financial aid that you don’t need to pay back. It’s crucial that you apply for everything that you could possibly qualify for to help lower the price of tuition as a student. There’s no reason not to apply if it could mean saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the course of your education.