If you’re like most college students, you’re furthering your education in hopes of getting a better job, and ultimately more money. That is where grants and scholarships come into play. Both are basically in the form of tuition assistance that you do not need to pay back. They can help lower the cost of your education, and free up some of your hard-earned cash for other needs.
Grants vs. Scholarships
So what is the difference between grants and scholarships? Both serve the same purpose, to help finance your education. Generally speaking, grants tend to be need-based, while scholarships are typically awarded on merit or achievement, but it is not uncommon to see them crossover.
Kinds of Grants and Scholarships
You may be amazed at all the different kinds of grants and scholarships that are available out there if you just do a little digging. And no one says you have to stop at one. Typically, grants are broken down to the federal, state and college levels.
The most common kind of federal grant is the Pell Grant. It is a need-based grant that compares your expected family contribution, or EFC as it is referred to, against the cost of attendance. Most, but not all, tend to go to undergraduates with a family income of less than $20,000. The maximum Pell grant for the 2012-2013 school year is $5,550.
State-sponsored grants and scholarships vary depending on where you live. There are grants and scholarships based on wide variety of things including income, race, religion, profession, major, sexual orientation, family situation, how long you’ve been out high school, whether you’ve ever been in foster care and even how tall you are (check out Tall Clubs International)! To learn more about some of the scholarships available in your state click here.
Most colleges, like Rasmussen College, also offer different forms of assistance. Rasmussen partners with a number of businesses to offer discounts to their employees. Make sure you check with your employer to see what discounts and possible grants they may offer. Rasmussen College also participates in Dollars for Scholars matching up to $500 per student and the T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program for those going into Early Childhood Education. They also recently launched the American Heroes Grant for law enforcement, firefighter and paramedics.
Each grant or scholarship will have their own application process you need to follow, but most, if not all, will require you to fill out a FAFSA, short for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, before you do anything else. So that is the best place to start. Make sure to have your financial information handy to speed up the process.
When trying to find grants and scholarships you may qualify for, experts suggest making a list of all the things that make you special or set you apart, including the things already mentioned, and investigate all major organizations, local groups and private corporations that may have funding set aside for education.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, remember persistence pays off. Apply early and often for you best chance at saving possibly thousands of dollars on your education. Deadlines for many are fast approaching too, so get cracking and start saving!