What is the difference between Grants and Scholarships?

Explore a detailed difference between grants and scholarships based on various criteria, their types, eligibility, pros and cons and more.

TCM Staff

8th October 2020

Selecting a college always rises one question, that is about financial aid. Any type of financial relief that can be received for the education is appreciated by the students and usually remains the top priority on everyone’s list before enrolling. 

Financial aid helps students and their families manger the cost of education. Financial assistance is a form of funding that is usually either granted or loaned to students for the purpose of attending a college or other institution of higher learning. It can come from many different sources, including governments, schools, and private organizations.

So, this article will try to inform you about grants and scholarships, and how they're different.

What is a Scholarship?

Scholarships are a form of financial aid that need not be repaid. They are awarded on academic performance, scholarly promise, athletic or artistic aptitude, cultural and economic background, and financial need.

This is primarily awarded to students based on merit, financial needs, or any other requirement that they fit into.

Scholarships are one of the best ways to ease off your college fees pressure. The thing about the scholarship is you don’t have to repay it. So, it provides the desired financial relief.

Some of the examples of the type of scholarships are - 

  • Scholarships through FAFSA

  • Scholarship for Military

  • Scholarship for University Students

  • Scholarships for High School Seniors

  • Scholarships for Hispanic

What is a Grant?

Grants are very similar to scholarships. Grants also don’t require any kind of repayment, and they are basically awarded due to the financial needs of a student. 

Federal and State Governments are the agents that provide the grants. Along with this, many colleges and universities also came forward to provide help in the form of grants. 

Criteria for grants are need-based, meaning that the student has to provide financial information of their parents or guardians in order to be eligible for the grant. 

Some examples of the type of Grants are- 

  • Federal Pell grant

  • Online College Grants

  • Grants for Women

  • Grants for Single mothers

  • Federal work-study

Difference between Grants and Scholarships

Grants vs Scholarships are classified better based on the following criteria,

  1. Funding Source

  2. Recipients

  3. Merit

  4. Types

1. Funding Source

They are a lot of sources when it comes to college scholarships. Whether it can be individuals, community organizations, colleges or universities, government authorities, etc. The diversity of sources for scholarships is large.

When coming to grants, the funding usually comes from state or federal financial aid that is given to the college or university itself.

2. Recipients

Grants can be conferred to any person or entity fulfilling specific criteria. It can be awarded to non-profit organizations, veterans, colleges, and universities, etc.

However, scholarships can be conferred only to students.

3. Merit

Scholarships are generally been given by academic or extra-curricular merits.

Grants take into account the financial need of the individual before awarding financial aid.

4. Types of Grants and Scholarships

Grants are usually not categorized.

In the case of Scholarships, it can be merit-based, need-based, career-specific, and student-specific.

  • Merit-based- This is mostly based on the student’s academic and extra-curricular activities.

  • Need-based- It is based on the family’s financial record.

  • Career- Specific- These are awarded by colleges or universities to the students enrolled in a specific career.

  • Student- Specific- They are granted to applicants who must initially qualify by race, gender, religion, family and medical history, or many other student-specific factors.

Pros and Cons of Scholarships and Grants

Like the flip sides of the coin, scholarships, and grants have their own share of pros and cons. It is highly recommended for recipients to weigh down these aspects before deciding on their choice of financial assistance. A quick surf of the various college websites can prove a long way in further educating the readers on the boons and banes of their respective scholarships and grants  Here are a few pros and cons of scholarships and grants.

Type of institution




No payback clause

Scholarship amounts can affect other financial aid packages.


Students are entitled to innumerable scholarships 

Scholarships are competitive, and only a few selected are recipients of its benefits.


Scholarships are awards for top-merit in one or more fields. It is marked as an accomplishment.



No payback clause

For grants such as Federal grants, a student might be required to refund all or part of the grant money. This happens when the recipient receives outside grants or scholarships 


Students may also be required to refund federal grant money if they drop or remove enrolment from classes.


Grants are limited funds.

Eligibility Criteria to apply for Scholarship and Grants

Eligibility criteria for both Scholarship and grants are almost similar and can be summarised as -

  • A candidate should be a citizen of the United States.

  • You need to be enrolled in an undergraduate degree or postgraduate degree.

  • You need to be 18 years and above.

  • Higher education should have been finished by that time.

  • Students need to have a minimum CGPA of 3.0 or above.

How to apply for scholarships and grants?

The procedure to apply for scholarship and grants involves 4 steps. It is essential to religiously abide by the prescribed procedure, primarily to have a satisfactory and optimal user experience. The applicants are also required to have a clear understanding of each step involved in the process. Below are the steps to apply for scholarships and grants :

Step 1: Understand your eligibility and requirements.

Step 2: Download the application form the website. Either the application is from FAFSA, state government, or any private or non-private organizations.

Step 3: The form should be filled and submitted prior to the deadlines.

Step 4: Now all you have to do is, wait for the response to see if you are approved for the help or not.


In an era where education is known as a right but treated more like a business, there are various opportunities available for students who cannot afford education. The financial aid of various forms comes as a rescue for these students. Scholarship and grants are life-savers for the students in need and the best part is scholarships and grants need not be paid back.

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