Understanding grants and scholarships

Here I offer a quick overview on college grants (and scholarships). Think of grants as need–based and scholarship as merit–based. In any case, both offer free money for your college education. So why do students and their parents take loans and use other means to pay for college when there is this "free money?" Although grants don’t require repayment, only qualifying students can receive grants. This limits how much free money students can receive toward their college education.

Each grant has terms and conditions that determine eligibility of the student to receive the grant. Grants can be renewed as long as the students remain eligible. So try to get most out of the grants not just for this school year but for the next and the next.

As I mentioned earlier, grants require eligibility. What is that eligibility? Each grant has specific terms and conditions for determining eligibility. In general, grants eligibility is determined based on who is awarding the grant (i.e, federal or state government) and a student’s financial need, academic progress, major, and interests.

How do you apply for a grant? How do you get more information on grants? Check with your high school counselor or the financial aid office at your college for more information.


Scholarships, like grants, are gifts for students to fund their education. A scholarship may, however, require you to have certain high academic scores to become (and remain) eligible. A school's financial aid administrators and private companies or foundations are responsible for awarding scholarships.

Here are some tips on searching and applying for grants

  • Start early! Don’t put this off until the start of your college semester.
  • Try searching for grants online. Where else? Check the library, phone book, or your school counselor’s office.
  • Ask your parents and friends! Ask your parents if their (or your) employer has any available scholarships

Caution! Be aware of scholarship scams!

Unfortunately, there are people who will take advantage of seniors and their parents. Here are some tips you can use to fight scholarship frauds:

  • Try applying for a scholarship scam that is marketed to guarantee you (or you children) a scholarship for a fee
  • Research online (or get a second opinion for your school counselor) to be sure that you are not applying for a scam.
  • Scholarship scams may also inform you that you have been selected to win a scholarship. If you are not sure why you have been selected to receive the scholarship, the chances are it just a scam.
  • If you are instructed to provide credit card or banking account information, as part of the scholarship application, chances are it is just a scam
Posted on 12/2/2006
by Raj Singh