JC asked in Education & ReferenceFinancial Aid · 1 decade ago

financial aid, loans, grants, etc. for college?

Will someone please tell me the difference between FAFSA, loans, private loans, grants, scholarships, financial aid packages, gift aid, merit-based aid, school loans/scholarships, federal loans, federal grants, etc and etc?

There are too many different terms for everything; I am not sure which ones mean the same thing and which ones don't. What I don't understand the most is the difference between a scholarship and grant.

And does the word, "financial aid" mean, anything that will help you pay for college, including loans from like... banks?

Also, it'd be appreciated if you could provide sites/sources for financial aid, etc. Thank you.

9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best answer

    The difference between a scholarship and a grant is that the scholarship is often awarded for excellent grade, athletic achievement etc. but a federal( or other) grant is often "granted" in response to financial need. The FAFSA is the Federal Application for financial adid. Most schools require this paperwork in order to be able to help you pay for school with some form of aid (or a combination of different forms) which is usually referred to as a "financial aid package".

    Financial aid may come in any combination of "forms", such as: grants (free money you don't have to pay back); scholarships (same); government /federal loans (often lower interest rates than private loans); private loans (banks or other lending institutions often with higher interest rates); gift aid sounds like money from a fund or other endowment- type vehicle that someone has bequeathed to a school to help students; merit-based aid is financial assistance based on some determining index such as your GPA while you are in school (if you keep your GPA above a certain figure you may get half of your tuition paid for by the school, for example). THere is also work-study, which is low-paying work usually within the school, offered as part of a financial aid package. This work might offer contacts and other benefits (such as time sitting at a desk when you can study) in addition to the low pay.

    The starting point is to make an appointment with a financial aid counselor at a school you might like to attend, and get started filling out the FAFSA, which can be picked up at any financial aid office or downloaded from the FAFSA website. I hope this was helpful.

    Source(s): paying for my education.
  • 1 decade ago

    You are absolutely correct.....the world of financial aid is very confusing. Without going into it all too deeply.....grants and scholarships are generally money that does not need to be paid back. If you can get these, you are in luck. Two of the best sites for grants and scholarships are:



    Pretty much unless your parents are rich, you will need a loan of some kind. Absolutely, positively, the first thing you should do is go fill out the FAFSA which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid which can be done at:


    They will send your school a package which will include Stafford Loans which are the best, because they are subsidized by the federal government. Once your school receives the package, make an appointment and go in to speak with a financial aid advisor.

    Private loans are not nearly as good of a deal as federal loans are, but for many, they are the only way to make up the difference as federal loans have limits. If you decide that you need a private loan, check out all the ones out there at:


    I would personally suggest a Think Student Loan which can be applied for at: http://www.thinkfinancial.com

    Good Luck and most of all, choose a school that isn't going to break your bank. For most people, a degree from a cheap school is just as effective as one from Harvard so find the most inexpensive school that has the degree you want.

    Hope this has helped and Good Luck.....college is expensive but worth every penny if done correctly.

  • 1 decade ago

    When you apply for FAFSA, you are applying for any govenrment aid that is available. This is for both subsidized as well as unsubsidized loans, grants, etc. FAFSA is income based, therefore all money granted is based on your income. Any FAFSA money granted does not have to be repaid and is not considered a loan. However, most colleges use your FAFSA to go ahead and apply you for student loans from private lenders, these incure interest and must be paid back.

  • 1 decade ago

    Scholarship Program


    Online applications available Dec. 15 for USA Funds Access to Education Scholarships


    Scholarships.com is Fast, Free & Easy


    The Princeton Review


    FREE Scholarship Searches


    All the best!

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  • 1 decade ago

    FAFSA is the free application for federal student aid. Qualifying for it is based on previous years taxes. Any monies you could qualify for typically do not have to be repaid, so essentially, it is not a loan.

    Grants are monies that typically do not have to be repaid.

    Scholarships are monies that typically do not have to be repaid.

    Loans must be repaid. Terms of repayment may differ with lenders.

    Financial Aid is basically 'help in paying for school'.


    Don't bother lying on your FAFSA because any school worth their salt will request verification of taxes, income, etc. The FAFSA website will link to the IRS.

    I hope this gives you a starting point.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    There are many scholarship opportunities out there that you may be eligible for you will be surprised. My advice to you is to apply for more than one scholarship, and use more than one scholarship search. Good Luck. I went to college for free, so can you.

    A lot of people have found success with this site.


  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
  • 1 decade ago
    Source(s): FFEL Program
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