Paying for College
Scholarships, Grants, and Loans
- A scholarship is money that you apply for and don't have to pay back. It's awarded by an organization or by your college based on your academic record, your financial need, a characteristic about you or your family, or other factors.
- A grant is money that you don't have to pay back. It's awarded by your college or the federal government, usually based on your financial need. When you complete the FAFSA, the financial aid department of your college will use your financial information to determine whether you qualify for any grants.
- A loan is money that you borrow and must pay back later, plus interest. By completing the FAFSA, you may qualify for low-interest student loans provided by the federal government. Because the interest rates are very low, this is "cheap money" to borrow, and is considered a type of financial aid. Private student loans are also available from other banks and companies, but they are usually not quite as good a deal as the federal loans.
Tips on Getting Scholarships
- Ask your parent/guardian to find out if their employer offers a scholarship. Maybe your employer offers one!
- Find out if the PTSA or any clubs at your high school offer a scholarship. You won't be competing against so many applicants!
- Every high school has a counselor who is the Scholarship Coordinator. Keep in touch with that person!
- Make an appointment with the GRASP (Great Aspirations Scholarship Program) representative at your school. They are extremely helpful! Bonus: GRASP offers a scholarship to students who use their help.
- Find out what scholarships are offered through the Financial Aid office at the colleges you are applying to. Sometimes private colleges can cover most or all of your expenses through scholarships!
- Research scholarships online, but be smart about it. The links provided below will help you find trustworthy sources for scholarship money. When looking at other websites, be aware that scammers are out there and may try to take advantage of you. When in doubt, ask your counselor!
- Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)! Do this as soon after January 1st as you can, so the financial aid office at your college can use your financial information to find the most scholarship and grant money or low-interest loans for you!
- pay for scholarship information or to be matched up with scholarships
- provide credit card or bank account numbers to anyone when trying to get a scholarship
- believe anyone who says you won a contest or scholarship you didn't apply for
- pay to complete the FAFSA. It's free!
- Be sure to follow through on your plans to apply for scholarships. It's not enough to want the money - you have to go and get it!
Websites to Explore
Scholarships and Scholarship Databases
- CTC Scholarship Database
- The Community Foundation
- Chegg Scholarship Search
- Sallie Mae College Planning
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund
- Student Scholarship Search
- College Scholarships and Graduate Fellowships
- Schoolhouse Connection Youth Scholarship Program - A scholarship and support program for students who have experienced homelessness. Undocumented students are welcome to apply.
- AmeriCorps - A community service program that awards scholarships to participants.
Other Financial Aid Info
- College Board
- Federal Student Aid
- Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA)
- FAFSA 4Caster - Get an estimate of how much financial aid you can get. It's like a practice FAFSA!