What’s the Difference Between Scholarships and Grants?

Difference between Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are sometimes mistaken for one another. While they are both forms of free financial aid – or aid that doesn’t need to be repaid – there is a distinction between the two. If you’re wondering what the difference between scholarships and grants is, we’ll break it down below.


Scholarships are typically awarded based on merit. This means that your eligibility is determined by your academic performance or athletic ability, for example. Scholarships can come from a variety of sources, including your school, the federal or state government, or private organizations and businesses.

To apply, start by filing the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to apply for federal scholarships. From there, check with your college’s financial aid office to see what scholarships may be available to you. After that, turn your search to other companies and organizations to see what private scholarships you may qualify for.

Scholarship applications vary in terms of requirements. Some will ask for you to write an essay or submit a project, while others are as easy as signing up. However, there are sometimes rules that come along with winning a scholarship. Some will require that you maintain a certain GPA or meet other academic standards to maintain eligibility, so it’s important to stay on top of your classes!

The great thing about scholarships is that there’s one out there for pretty much anyone. Scholarships are designed for all sorts of things, including:

  • Your major
  • Where you went to high school
  • Your hobbies
  • Ethnicity
  • Your hair color
  • And more

With all of these different types of scholarships out there, your odds of finding one that’s perfect for you is great!


Grants sound similar to scholarships, as it’s another form of free financial aid that you don’t have to repay. The main difference, however, is that grants are usually need-based. This means that your eligibility is determined based on your (or your family’s) financial need as opposed to merit.

Like scholarships, grants can come from a variety of sources. These include the federal and state government, your school, or private organizations. Many grants come from the government, which you can apply for by filing the FAFSA. See what grants are offered by the Department of Education here.

While scholarships and grants may have a few different requirements, both are great resources to help pay for college!