Almost 85% of college students rely on financial aid to fund their education. This financial assistance comes in different forms, including scholarships, grants, and student loans. It is essential to understand the basics of each.

Scholarships and grants are financial aid awards that you do not have to pay back, while student loans must be repaid and can come with hefty interest rates.

For this reason, most applicants aim to maximize the amount of scholarship and grant funding they receive. If you’re hoping to do so, it’s crucial that you learn about the different types of scholarships and grants that exist; then, you can determine if you should apply.

What are the different types of scholarships available to me?

Scholarships aim to support undergraduate and graduate students in financing their education. So if you think about your cultural background, your geography, or even your specific interests and hobbies, there’s probably a scholarship for it. There are even scholarships for left-handed people! 

Common types of scholarships include: 

  • Academic and merit-based: These are your classic “good grades” scholarships. These programs will typically require specific criteria such as minimum GPAs. 
  • Need-based: Many scholarships are solely available to applicants whose income or family income is below a specified threshold. 
  • Minority: These scholarships aim to increase diversity at a university or other educational setting. They aim to level opportunity by supporting certain minority groups. 
  • First In Family: Also known as First Generation scholarships, these awards go to applicants who are the first in their families to reach a specific level of education. 
  • Legacy: These are the opposite of First In Family; these scholarships go to past recipients’ children (or potentially other family members). 
  • Geographical: These programs aim to support students in a specified location. An example of a Geographical Scholarship Program is the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. The Rodeo provides scholarships solely to students based in Texas. 
  • Interest-based: This type of scholarship requires applicants to be on a specific educational track, be a member of a particular club, have a specific hobby, or more. 

What are the different types of grants available to me?

A grant is another financial aid award funded by the government, foundations, non-profits, universities, or any other program whose mission is to help students pay for their education. 

Common types of grants include: 

  • Federal: Funded by the National Government, Federal Grants are primarily for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford their education. An example of a Federal Grant would be the Pell Grant, which eligible students can receive due to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 
  • State: This type of grant is only available to inhabitants of a specific state. 
  • Need-based: Like scholarships, there are need-based grants. These grants are based on family income or, for example, if you have a disability that requires accommodation. 
  • Competitive: These are awarded on a merit basis and can be highly competitive (hence, the name). 
  • Research-based: We hear a lot about this type of grant in the context of scientific research, but they’re common in many other industries, too. With these grants, organizations give money to fund the equipment, materials, and additional associated costs of conducting specific research. 
  • Project-based: This is a similar type of grant to research-based, but rather than ongoing or lengthy amounts of time, this grant supports the completion of a project. 
  • Area of interest: Also similar to the scholarship type it shares a name with, these grants are for applicants with shared interests, such as applicants wanting to be teachers. 

Discover and apply for the right types of scholarships and grants for you on Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope makes it easy for applicants like you to search for scholarships and grants in one place. Our marketplace allows applicants to filter through applications based on the criteria they’re eligible. If you haven’t already, create a profile and start applying. 

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