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Financing Higher Education: Grants vs. Scholarships

September 01, 2015

Looking for a way to pay for college without lengthy repayment requirements? A grant or scholarship can help.

With the cost for college tuition constantly rising, it is no wonder why parents and students have a hard time putting together a budget plan for financing education. Fortunately there are a number of helpful tools and tips to make paying for college a little less painful.

Grants vs. Scholarships

If you don’t have a strong savings base to use for college tuition and fees, and want to look elsewhere for aid than a federal student loan, grants and scholarships can be extremely beneficial.


For those pursuing a college education, grants are free monetary gifts that do not require repayment (unlike student loans). Other things to keep in mind about grants include:

  • They can come from the college, the state or federal government, or from private sources.
  • The two most common federal grants are Pell Grants and Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), and you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the college’s deadline in order to qualify for these grants.
  • The Pell Grant is reserved for undergrads working towards a first baccalaureate or professional degree.
  • For the 2015-16 award year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $5,775.
  • You must be a Pell Grant recipient to be an FSEOG recipient.
  • FSEOGs are set aside first to those with extreme financial need.
  • With an FSEOG, you will receive between $100 and $4,000 per year.


Scholarships- Another option that does not require repayment is a scholarship—a form of gift aid. Things to consider regarding scholarships:

  • There are a great deal of scholarships based on individual strengths, talents, and qualifications- some based on financial need, some solely on merit.
  • Check high school guidance offices, libraries, organizations, business, etc. for scholarships that fit your needs.
  • Be sure you understand deadlines, eligibility requirements, and application details.
  • Use personal networks to search and find the right scholarships for you.
  • Show how you have overcome some kind of adversity, if applicable.
  • ALWAYS include something in a scholarship application that highlights your individuality and separates you from the crowd.

Since there are so many different scholarships in many different places, set aside a good hour a few times per week to search around and apply. It’s best to start early-give yourself enough time before the deadline.

Providing a quality education for yourself is important, and may require the help of your parents and federal student loans. Make sure you understand all your financing options and lay everything out on the table first—the right scholarship or grant could help tremendously in affording college, you just might have to dig around for it!

Questions? Contact us.

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