College grants vs scholarships

Free money is key when it comes to paying for college. That's where grants and scholarships fit in. Neither one has to be paid back. The biggest difference is that grants for college are typically need-based, while scholarships may be need-based or merit-based, which means they’re given out based on some kind of ability, hobby, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Both federal and state governments give grants. To apply for government grants, complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Find college grants

Grants and scholarships can come from many sources including the federal government, state governments (where you live and where you plan to attend school), the college you plan to attend, outside organizations, and non-profit groups.

Never pass up free money for college. While a grant generally won’t pay for all your college costs, it can be a big help. Complete your FAFSA early, as many grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Find scholarships

Scholarships are another great source of free money for college, especially when combined with grants and other financial aid. Scholarship Search allows you to search 5 million scholarships worth up to $24 billion. You can customize your search depending on your interests, age, grade level, etc. and you can set up special account alerts to notify you when a new scholarship opportunity that matches your profile becomes available.

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