Colleges and universities can be expensive… sometimes getting accepted into the school of your choice can be the easy part of the educational journey of the new student. It isn’t always easy to find the money that you need to pay for your education, but there are ways to make paying for school much easier. Two of the more common ways to ease the cost of continuing education are student grants and scholarships, both of which provide certain amounts of money that can be applied toward the cost of further education without the need to repay them.
Student grants and scholarships aren’t always easy to find or to win, but the extra time taken in researching and applying for them is well worth it if you are awarded any of those that you apply for.
Defining Grants and Scholarships
The first thing that you need to know when looking for student grants and scholarships is exactly what the difference between grants and scholarships is. Both grants and scholarships are funds that are given to students based upon academic performance, financial need, or other reasons, and do not require the student to pay them back after graduation unlike student loans.
The major difference in grants and scholarships are their origins and the ways in which they are used. Grants are usually given by government offices and non-profit organizations and can generally be used to cover a variety of different expenses. Scholarships, on the other hand, are usually created by businesses or private individuals and are used to cover specific costs such as tuition or dormitory costs.
Both grants and scholarships must be applied for, and are generally considered to be highly competitive since there’s only so much grant or scholarship money to go around each semester or each year.
Finding Grants and Scholarships
There are several different ways that you can locate grants and scholarships to assist with the cost of attending a college or university. Most school guidance counselors have listings of available grants and scholarships, as well as application information on many of them. Additionally, the financial aid offices of the colleges and universities where prospective students are considering attending can provide detailed information on many of the scholarships and grants that their students receive.
The internet can also be a useful tool in assisting your search, allowing you to find grants and scholarships that can be applied for that many people don’t even know exist. While all of these might not be large grants or scholarships, even smaller ones can provide some much-needed financial aid.
The Application Process
Unlike many loans, the applications for grants and scholarships are usually somewhat involved and may require several different items in addition to the application. Many scholarship and grant applications require letters of recommendation from former teachers, community or business leaders, or others who can speak knowingly of the applicant, and they may also require essays or other written pieces from the applicant as well.
Those scholarships and grants that are given based upon financial need may require that tax statements or earned income statements be provided by the student or by their parents, so that the decision makers might be able to determine that the student falls within the level of financial need that is needed for the particular grant or scholarship.
Others may also require that the student or their parents be employed in a certain industry, be a member of a certain organization, or meet other criteria set forth when the grant or scholarship was first created.