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Proper education is one of the most important achievements of modern life. The US government and citizens know this rule and follow it to reach personal and national success. Higher education is the training of our professional skills that grant a career in the future. That’s why many young people pursue a degree in colleges and universities.
However, to finish studies, students often require financial help from other sources than their families. This is when scholarships and grants come into play. All students have a chance to apply for one of them and receive a certain amount of money.
There are certain differences between scholarships and grants that have to be taken into account. Though these two types of student aid seem to be very alike, a student applying for either of them has to be aware of small details.
Most people know what a scholarship is at a young age. There are various types of scholarships we face throughout our lives; a student one is the most popular. Basically, this is a reward or gift money a student in need or of worth can get. There are thousands of scholarships available for students that come from various sources.
A great part of them is funded by the government and is issued through educational establishments. Every school has a financial aid office that offers information on the aid that can be received. Governmental scholarships are often merit-based and are given to students of excellence who meet certain standards. They are usually gifted to the students with the highest academic achievements and, if it’s not a one-time offer, can be kept only if the student maintains the same academic level throughout their studies. Looking for how to apply for scholarships, students should visit the Department of Education website for the full information of available offers.
Many of them are offered by private companies, organizations, and individuals. Generally, considering the “gift” nature of scholarships, there is no difference what source of money a student chooses, a federal or a private one. The size of scholarships differs; the most desired ones are so-called full ride scholarships that cover all costs of a student.
There is a certain type of scholarships that are meant only for specific groups like the ones for female scholars, minorities, etc. The special attention is given to military families. This is a huge community that takes care of one another and their families. The scholarships can be granted for veterans, military personnel, active duty personnel, and all members of their closest family including spouses, children, parents, and so on.
These scholarships can also be merit- and need-based. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Scholarship, for example, is the former. However, there are many other offers for families in a poor financial situation. Military scholarships also happen to be both federal and private.
Private study scholarships can even give more money than the government does. Most often the “charity” aid sources include foundations, civic groups, and local businesses. Some companies prefer to “raise” their future employees and may invest in prospective students for them to work for the company later.
While such governmental offers as grants and loans are exclusively for the citizens of the US, the private and federal scholarships can also help international students. Some companies agree to invest in those seeking study abroad scholarships in case they come to study at local universities. Among the most popular federal-funded offers for visiting students are the Fulbright Foreign Student Program and the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program.
Speaking of the non-governmental offers, there are more than two of them to choose from. There are the generic ones, country- and major-specific ones, scholarships for undergraduates and graduates, young and old. The choice is wide.
Another option to receive financial aid to cover tuition cost is to apply for a grant.
All students aim to get a federal grant as they often cover a good part of study expenses and are 100% reliable. Besides, they are easy to get. The first and only step students have to make to apply for government grants is completing the FAFSA application and providing their current information. This is a standard form that decides the future of the whole federal aid. People eligible to get a grant will be notified by their educational establishment.
The most popular option is Federal Pell Grants that are usually given to undergraduate students with financial need. The maximum amount of money a student can get from this grant is $6,000 a year. Each academic year, students have to apply for grants by completing the new FAFSA application.
Another peculiarity of grants that scholarships rarely feature is the possibility of grant repayment. While scholarships are gifted to a student and guarantee that no money will be asked in return, there are several cases in which a student has to repay that money. Grants are given with a certain program in mind and, in case of an early withdrawal, a part of the money will have to be paid back. Any changes in the eligibility requirements reduce or annul a grant, a student receives additional aid that improves their financial situation and the ability to pay for tuition.
In addition to government grants, there are numerous private grants both need-based and merit-based. They are issued by private organizations and individuals.
The one-time financial aid is a good option for the immediate money as a student does not need to work hard to maintain the checks coming. However, if the offer is long-term, students have to make sure that they are eligible at all times. The scholarships based on academic excellence require above-average studying and grades. Each offer has its own rules. The need-based aids look at the financial situation and have strict requirements for eligibility. So, students have to maintain their current status and report any changes in their financial situation.
Federal grants require students to reapply each academic year to be accessed anew. So, each time, a student has to prove their eligibility and no previous grants and aids give them the advantage of getting it again.
Also, once you get your Bachelor’s degree, you are no longer eligible for certain types of scholarships and financial aid and have to search for specific graduate offers.