Grants are the heavyweight big-hitters of the financial aid world. This is quite literally free money. Most grants will come from the government, which means you will need to fill out the FAFSA. Get the Quick & Dirty on Grants here.
Hello? Free money?
Filling out the FAFSA can be time consuming and complicated, although the folks at the US Government are trying to simplify the process (not a strong point for them). Some grants also require that students maintain a minimum GPA to qualify.
Bet on Grants If: You are planning to go to college. Seriously, why wouldn’t you apply for free money?
Loans are the final-resort of college funding because you have to pay them back. There are four main types of loans, and some are much better options than others. Learn about them at Quick & Dirty: Loans to find out which is right for you.
You don’t have to be an amazing student or star athlete to score a loan. There are lots of folks willing to lend money to students.
You have to pay loans back. Current student loan debt has passed a trillion dollars. That’s with a “T”. Be sure what you are studying will enable you to get a job to pay them back.
Bet on Loans If: Your other financial aid options don’t make the cut, you have your heart set on a specific school, and you are studying for a career that will allow you to earn enough to pay them back.
Scholarships are also chances to get people and organizations to give you free money. The difference here is that scholarships are awarded for many other reasons besides financial need. What makes you stand out? There may be a scholarship for it. Get more info at Scholarships.
Again, free money. Plus you get to say you are attending school on a scholarship.
Because scholarships may come from a number of different sources, you are going to have to do the legwork researching, applying for, and maintaining them (most require that you keep meeting minimum requirements - like a certain GPA or level in sports).
Bet on Scholarships If: You want to add to the amount of free money you get, have some standout qualities as a student or athlete, and are willing to do the work to earn and keep them. If you are a student athlete, check out the I’m a Pretty Amazing Athlete Add-on as you Make a Plan with Shmoop.