Grants and scholarships are often called “gift aid” because they are free money—financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. Grants are often need-based, while scholarships are usually merit-based.
Grants and scholarships can come from the federal government, your state government, your college or career school, or a private or nonprofit organization. Do your research, apply for any grants or scholarships you might be eligible for, and be sure to meet application deadlines!
Occasionally you might have to pay back part or all of a grant if, for example, you withdraw from school before finishing an enrollment period such as a semester.
What kinds of federal grants are available?
The U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of federal grants to students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools. We’ve given each of our grants its own page:
- Federal Pell Grants
- Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants
- Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants
How do I get a federal grant?
Almost all of our grants (listed above) are awarded to students with financial need. If you are interested in our grants, or in any federal student aid, you have to start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Once you’ve done that, you’ll work with your college or career school to find out how much you can get and when you’ll get it.
What kinds of scholarships are available, and how do I get one?
There are thousands of scholarships, from all kinds of organizations, and they’re not hard to find. You might be able to get a scholarship for being a good student, a great basketball player, or a member of a certain church, or because your parent works for a particular company, or for some other reason. Find out more about finding and applying for scholarships. You’ll also want to be careful and avoid scholarship scams.