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What is the difference between grants and scholarships?

Grants, functionally are the same as Scholarships. Money is given to a person or organization. However, GRANTS can be for an unlimited number of projects needing funding. Where they differ is that Scholarships are for people needing funding for their education needs. GRANTS can come from a private or public organization and can be used for anything (road projects, research, buildings, etc.) including education. Usually if a grant is for educational purposes to one individual, most likely it's a PELL Grant.

The Types of College Grants

While scholarships are often merit-based and can require an extensive application process, grants are often need-based and may not require anything more than filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), if that. In that regard, it could be said that grants find you as opposed to you finding grants.

Federal Grants

Federal grants are free money from the government for college. There are four main types, according to Federal Student Aid (an office of the U.S. Department of Education):

Federal Pell Grant: This is a grant usually awarded to undergraduates who haven’t earned a bachelor’s or professional degree and who demonstrate financial need. The amounts change yearly.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): This grant is for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need. You can receive between $100 and $4,000 a year, depending on the extent of your financial need.

Teacher Education Assistant for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant:According to Federal Student Aid, this grant differs from other federal grants because it “requires you to take certain kinds of classes in order to get the grant, and then do a certain kind of job to keep the grant from turning into a loan.” If you’re in an education program and want to do this, you’ll sign on to teach for four complete academic years within an eight-year period after graduation in a high-need field at an eligible school. Failure to do so turns the grant into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

Iraq and Afganistan Service Grant: This grant, of up to $5,080.50 a year, is awarded to eligible students whose parent/s or guardian/s died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after Sept. 11th. You must have been under 24 or at least a part-time college student at the time of the death/s.

All of these federal grants require you to fill out the FAFSA, with extra instructions (like the contract) with the TEACH Grant. You’ll then see which awards you’re being offered.

Pell Grants

Come inside to Learn More

College-based Grants

College-based grants are grants offered to you by your college directly.

A college can give a student a grant for any reason. Maybe the school wants to award you for having excellent grades (though merit-based is usually in the form of scholarships). Or maybe you’re an exceptional athlete and the school is trying to get you to play there by giving you extra money. However, it’s often the case that colleges will give grants to financially-needy students in an incentive to get the student to enroll there, according to

Often times, the grant will show up on your award letter, along with the rest of them, but sometimes you may have to seek it out. To find college-based grants that require a separate application, contact your college’s financial office to see what’s available and how to apply.

Remember: Colleges have limited funds for scholarships and grants so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t land either directly from the school. Just make sure you search every avenue, from college-based grants to outside scholarships.

Private Grants

Private grants are grants toward college given to you by outside organizations and companies. Some examples of such organizations and companies, according to The College Board, include:

Your parents’ labor unions or employers
Your church or your parent’s church or religious denomination
Various organizations, such as Boy Scouts of America and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

You may have to fill out an application or the organization or company may just give you the grant. Regardless, it’s probably a good idea, if you’re hoping for an outside private grant, to ask the organization or company about it or to at least let them know you’re in the process of applying to colleges and for scholarships. Then they’ll at least know your situation, which could lead to them awarding you a grant for college.

The first step for many federal, college-based and private grants is to fill out the FAFSA. This application often requires you and your parent’s tax information, along with some basic and college information. Each school has its own financial aid deadlines, but filling it out sooner rather than later may higher your chances of getting the highest-possible grants.

Names of Specific Grants

The U.S Department of Education’s Federal grant programs undoubtedly have the highest profile of any of the grants on this list. These grants are the starting point for and college-bound students looking to find financial aid for their post-secondary education.


Federal Pell Grantis available to students who demonstrate the requisite amount of financial need. It is open to all college-bound students, and application is made by filling out and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Merit-Based and Need

The Academic Competitiveness Grant is available to students who have already qualified for the Pell grant. A grant award of $750 is available to freshman students, and a further award of up to $1300 is available to qualifying sophomores. The ACG is open to students majoring in a critical need area, such as math, science, technology, engineering and foreign languages.

The National SMART Grant is a continuation of the AC Grant, and is open to undergraduates in their third and fourth year of study. An annual grant award of $4000 is available juniors and seniors continuing their studies in science, mathematics, engineering and technology. [Study Abroad Globe.]

Federal Study Abroad Grants

The Boren Awards for International Study offers assistance to undergraduates traveling to study language and culture. Emphasis is placed on those regions where knowledge of the local language and culture would benefit U.S. national security. The grant is part of the National Security Education Program.

The Benjamin A Gilman Award is open to undergraduate students for study abroad. The program is open to students who have already qualified for the Federal Pell Grant. The Gilman Award is a continuing program of the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

State Sponsored Grants

Every state maintains its own college grant programs, and they are typically only available to student residents. While it would be impossible to list every education grant from each state in the union in the space available here, the following examples will give students an idea of the types of programs that may be available through their own state governments. College-bound students are encouraged to visit their state’s higher education website for detailed information on any and all merit-based and need-based grant programs which may be available.

The Central Alabama Community Foundation is a state based charitable organization. One of their main directives is to provide financial aid to eligible college-bound students from disadvantaged counties throughout Alabama.

The Arizona Private Post-Secondary Education Student Financial Assistance Grant provides financial aid to resident students who have attended a community college, and wish to pursue their baccalaureate degree at a 4 year college or university within the state. The maximum award is $2000 per year.

Colorado’s Department of Higher Education offers financial assistance to qualifying students in the form of undergraduate and graduate education grants, work study programs and various tuition assistance initiatives. These programs are open to resident students attending a participating Colorado college or university.

Kansas Board of Regents sponsors a number of grants and scholarships for resident students, including the Kansas Comprehensive Grant, the Kansas Nursing Service Scholarship and the Kansas teacher service Scholarship. Award amounts vary according to need and availability.

The state of Michigan offers eligible resident students the
Michigan Tuition Grant. The MTG is available to undergraduate students with the requisite financial need. Awards are restricted to the cost of tuition.

Texas offers a large number of financial aid programs for its resident college-bound students through the
College for All Texans initiative. Chief among the many grants and scholarships offered is the Texas Grant. This need-based grant offers awards ranging from $4400 to $7400 depending on need, academic status and type of college being attended.

The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation offers a wide range of grants, scholarships and loan forgiveness programs. The most notable examples include the NYS Tuition Assistance Program, the NYS Educational Opportunity Program  and the NYS Math and Science Teaching Incentive Scholarship.

Delaware’s Department of Higher Education sponsors a number of scholarships and grants for residents students including the Scholarship Incentive Program and the Governor’s Education Grant for Unemployed Adults. Awards are based on need as well as merit, and are open to to all Delaware residents.


Most colleges and universities offer a variety of grants as a way to attract a diverse student body to their campuses. Grants may be need-based or merit-based, and often they will be dedicated to a specific course of study or career goal.

General Grant Resources

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) - This site provides a variety of science related grants available through multiple organizations. The information is sorted by deadline and shows the category and grade levels for the funding.

National Science Foundation (NSF) - This website allows you to put in key words such as STEM, elementary, physical science, etc. to find exactly what you want.

Grants Alert - This site allows you to search for grants by an alphabetic list, grant types (corporate, federal, foundation, and state), state, or date added. There are also sections titled Grant News, Grant Talk, and Fundraising. You can also find information on grant writers and information on writing grants.

NEA Foundation - This site is for NEA members only, and focuses on learning and leadership that comes from student achievement. Grants are available for professional development and their deadlines are February 1, June 1, and October 15.
This site has information on grants, contests and awards, and classroom resources.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)
This site has a variety of grants available for solutions and professional development.
Grant Wrangler
This site has grants and awards sorted by categories such as STEM, Technology, Math, Science, etc.
The Grantsmanship
This site has grants sorted by state and foundations.  They offer a 5-day training for grant funding Grant Consortia
This NASA initiative supports the advancement of science and engineering education, research, and public outreach. Funds are available for both curricular and professional development and are provided annually through grants at the state level. Check your state for grant availability.
Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant Program
Created by the US Department of Education, the program aims to increase student achievement by enhancing the preparation of prospective teachers and the professional development activities for current teachers. TQP grants will support partnerships between institutions of higher education and high-need school districts. Look for the availability of funds in your state.

Course and Career Specific Grants


The American Floral Endowment offers scholarships, internships and grants for students engaged in horticultural studies. The American Floral Grant is administered on select college campuses through the Pi Alpha Xi Honor Society.

The American Rhododendron Society sponsors a number of comprehensive research grants for graduate students engaged in the advanced study of horticultural genetics, pest control, and fertilization techniques.

The Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program sponsors a variety of education grants for graduate students engaged in research into sustainable organic farming techniques.

The Future Farmers of America sponsors scholarships and grants for students pursuing a post-secondary education in farming and agricultural studies. More than $2 million dollars in education grants and scholarships are awarded annually.


The American Anthropological Association sponsors a wide range of education grants and fellowships for students majoring in Anthropology, including the AAA Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program. The grant is open to minority student applicants from ethnic groups that have been historically underrepresented in the fields of science and research.


Archaeological Institute of America offers six annual fellowships to graduate students for the purpose of travel and study in the preparation of their dissertations. Fellowships are open to student members of the AIA only.


The University Film and Video Association sponsors the Carole Fielding Student Grant. Up to $1000 is awarded annually to undergraduate and graduate students pursuing a degree in film and televisual arts.

Academy of Art University offers their annual Portfolio Grant for visual artists. 300 grants are awarded yearly to undergraduate students. Applicants must submit a sample portfolio, and eligibility is determined by academic  merit and artistic achievement.

Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation awards annual grants to student playwrights. Submissions must represent gay and lesbian lifestyles in a positive light, and must be centered on an historical event or person. Awards are in the amount of $1000.

Jacob K. Javits Fellowships Program is administered by the Federal Government. Grants are awarded to graduate students in a variety of fields including fine art, creative writing, music and theater arts. Award amounts vary depending on available funding.

Caroline and Erwin Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon awards an annual grant of $15,000 to post-graduate students pursuing a doctoral degree in art, and working towards the completion of a dissertation or thesis on cartooning history and techniques.

Costume Society of America sponsors the Stella Blum Student Research Grant. This annual $2000 grant is awarded to undergraduate and graduate students engaged in research into North American Costume. The award is only availaable to student members of the CSA.

Handweavers Guild of America offers their annual Convergence Grant for students engaged in the study of weaving and fiber arts. The grant is part of a work study program in which the student gains hands on training while acting as an assistant to a resident professor or instructor.

Athletics and Recreation

National Strength and Conditioning Associations sponsors a variety of grants and scholarships. Programs are open to graduate students engaged in research into nutrition, exercise and body maintenance. Award amounts range from $5000 for Master’s students to $10,000 for Doctoral students.

USTA Serves, the National Charitable Foundation of the United States Tennis Association, provides both scholarship and grant opportunities for tennis playing students from at risk backgrounds. 


American Institute of Certified Public Accountants sponsors a wide variety of grants, scholarships and fellowships for student members. Awards range from $2500 to $5000.

Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation offers scholarships and grants to dependent students of military veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart. Award amounts vary, and applicants must be enrolled in business studies at an accredited university or college.

State Farm Insurance supports a number of grant and scholarship programs for the college-bound dependents of active and retired employees. Applicants must be attending an accredited university or college, and be enrolled in business studies. Award amounts range from $2500 to $8000.


National Science Foundation supports the Computing Education for the 21st Century Grant. The annual award targets undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing a career in computer technology. 30 grants are awarded annually.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers offers a number of grant and scholarship programs, including theIEEE Computational Society Summer Research Grant for graduate students. This grant funds the research of deserving student scholars into the areas of neural networking and evolutionary computation. Award amounts range from $1000 to $4000.


American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation sponsors a number of grant and scholarship programs for students enrolled in a hospitality management program at a partnering college, university or technical school. The AH & LEF awards as much as $390,000 in grants and scholarships annually.


Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University offers fellowships grants for working journalists who are returning to college to expand their education in various journalistic fields. 

Council for the Advancement of Science Writing supports a variety of grants and fellowships for journalism students pursuing a career in science and technology reporting. Fellowships for graduate students are awarded annually in the amount of $5000.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is dedicated to the preservation of the world’s oceans. The WHOI offers the annual Ocean Science Journalism Fellowship for graduate students pursuing research in oceanographic and ocean engineering-related journalism.

Ohio University administers the
Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism Fellowship. This program is aimed at working journalists who are returning to college to pursue further studies in Public Affairs Reporting. Emphasis is on journalism in the age of digital media.


American Statistical Association administers the Gertrude M. Cox Grant for Women. The purpose of the grant is to encourage women to enter the historically male dominated field of statistics. The grant is open to women pursuing their mathematical studies at the graduate level.

Alpha Mu Theta, the National High School and Two Year College Honor Society, sponsors merit-based grants and scholarships for low-income students. Eligible students must be able to demonstrate a strong proficiency in mathematics.

American Mathematical Society administers the Waldemar J Trijitzinsky Memorial Award. The award is available to undergraduate and graduate students who a majoring in mathematics at an AMS member university. The amount of the annual award is $3000.

National Science Foundation offers the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to select students who are pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics. Graduate level mathematics majors are eligible for three years of financial support, up to a total of $30,000.


The Broadcast Education Association provides an annual full term grant for students enrolled in broadcast media studies at a partnering college or university. The award is available to undergraduate and graduate students with an impressive academic record, and a history of community leadership.

Pomona College administers the
Stonehill Media Studies Research Grant. This grant is open to undergraduate students of Pomona College who are engaged in a media related  research projects. Award amounts range from $500 to $3500.

The American Advertising Federation of Cleveland  sponsors annual grants and scholarships through their dedicated Education Foundation . Awards are open to all eligible Ohio college students pursuing a degree in advertising, marketing and communications. Awards are decided on the basis of merit, as well as financial need.


The University of Hawaii at Manoa administers the
Orvis Vocal Student Grant. The award is available to undergraduate and graduate students studying voice at UHM. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required, and applicants will be required to audition for the music department’s review board.

Edgewood College offers the
Fine Arts Award for freshman music students. Awards are available for students pursuing their studies in all orchestral instruments, as well as piano, voice and guitar. Applicants must submit audition tapes to be considered. The annual award amount is $2000, and is renewable up to four years.

American Brahms Society administers the annual Karl Geiringer Award for music majors working on a doctoral dissertation that relates to the music of Brahms. Awards range from $1000 to $2500. Students are required to submit an outline for the research project in order to be considered for the award.

Frank Huntington Beebe Fund for Musicians sponsors an annual fellowship grant for graduate music students. Emphasis is on composing and performing classical music. Applicants must be prepared to present a solid history of  advanced  musical accomplishment to be considered for the fellowship.


The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund awards annual grants to undergraduate and graduate students studying photography at an accredited college or art institute. The emphasis is on humanistic photography, and awards are decided by portfolio submission. Award amounts range from $5000 to $30,000.

The North American Nature Photography Association administers the The Janie Moore Green Grant. The $1000 grant is open to eligible students enrolled in an accredited art school or college. Awards are decided according to academic merit. Applicant are required to submit a portfolio of their work.

The International Center Of Photography offers a number of fellowships grants  for students pursuing a career as a photographer. The emphasis is on students pursuing the study of photojournalism.


The American Baptist Home Mission Societies offers grants and scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must be an active member of an American Baptist church, and be enrolled at an affiliated Baptist Seminary. Grant awards range from $500 to $3000.


The Geologic Society of America offers the GSA/ExxonMobil Awards for both undergraduate and graduate students. Awards range from $2000 to $10,000, and are designed to financially support students engaged in summer term field research.

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation supports a number of grants including the Gustavus E. Archie Memorial Grant . The Archie Memorial grant is dedicated to providing financial support to graduate students completing their education in geology and applied petrophysics. The grant is administered through the University of Wisconsin.

The Western Society of Malacolgists sponsors an annual Student Research Grant for graduate students engaged in marine biology research at an accredited university or college. The grant is specific to students who are specializing in the study of mollusks.

The Evolving Earth Foundation is dedicated to the research and better understanding of the history of the Earth and its environmental future. The EEF sponsors a Student Grant Program for students pursuing their studies in earth sciences at the graduate level.

Student Types


The American Anthropological Association sponsors a large number of education grants, including the Minority Dissertation Fellowship Program. The program is open to students from historically underrepresented minority groups who are pursuing their doctoral degree in Anthropology.

American Association of Advertising Agencies supports a large number of grants and scholarships. Of particular interest to minority students is the Multicultural Advertising Intern Program which offers a paid 10 week internship to undergraduate and graduate level students pursuing a degree in advertising.

The Hyatt Hotels Fund for Minority Lodging Management Students provides financial aid to minority students enrolled in a hospitality management course at an accredited college or vocational school. The program is open to African-American, Hispanic, Native-American and Asian-American students.The annual award is $2000.

The Asian American Journalists Association is dedicated to the advancement of Asian-Americans in both broadcast, print and digital media journalism. The AAJA sponsors both the Internship Grant for Broadcasting and the Chicago Tribune Print and New Media Internship Grant. Awards amounts range from $1500 to $2000.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants sponsors a variety of grants and scholarships for minority students pursuing a career in accounting. The AICPA Minority Doctoral Fellowship  awards $12,000 to minority students completing their doctoral program in accounting. The fellowship is open to African-American, Native-American and Hispanic students.

The American Society of Criminology offers it’s annual Graduate Fellowship for Ethnic Minorities. The program is designed to encourage students of color to pursue a career in criminology. Applicants are eligible for an annual award of $6000.


The Margaret McNamara Memorial Fund, supported by the World Bank Group, offers an annual grant of $12,000 to female students from developing countries who are studying in the Unites States. Eligible recipients must be planning to return to their home country to use their degrees for the betterment of their homeland.

The American Association of University Women supports a number of Selected Profession Fellowships designed to encourage women to return to college to expand their career opportunities. Grants are available for women pursuing careers in law, engineering, medicine and computer science.

The International Federation of University Women sponsors fellowships and grants for graduate students who wish to study abroad as they complete their doctoral research. Applicants must be student members of the IFUW to be considered for any award. Award amounts vary depending on course of study, and travel costs.

The Jeanette Ranking Foundation awards need-based education grants to women 35 and older. The foundation’s purpose  is to give women the educational power they need to break the cycle of poverty.

Zonta International is dedicated to advancing the status of women worldwide. Zonta sponsors the annual  Amelia Earhart Fellowship, which provides a grant of $10,000  to women pursuing their PhD in Aerospace studies.


The Chair Scholars Foundation provides grant and scholarship opportunities to students with physical disabilities. The foundation is dedicated to helping low-income students with physical disabilities afford college or vocational training.

The Jewish Guild for the Blind is one of the longest established advocacy groups for the visually impaired. JGB  sponsors the annual Guild Scholar Award for college-bound students who are legally blind. Applicants are eligible for up to $15,000 in award money.

The Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation offers an annual scholarship for women with disabilities. Applicants must be currently enrolled in a Masters degree program at an accredited college or university. Award amounts range from $500 to $2000.


Soroptimist International of the Americas funds the Women’s Opportunity Awards, which provide financial aid for women who wish to return to college. Applicants must be the primary financial support for their household, and must be returning to school to improve their career skills.

Executive Women International sponsors the Adult Students in Scholastic Transition Award. ASIST is available to adult students who are facing economic and social challenges, and who want to improve their situation through higher education. The annual award is $2500.

P.E.O. International is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to women. P.E.O. supports a number of grants for women returning to college after a prolonged absence. Emphasis is on career training and advancement in traditionally male dominated fields.

Denny’s Single Parent Scholarship Fund provides need-based grants for single parents of Hispanic background who are returning to college to advance their education. Award amounts range from $500 to $1500.

Students with Severe Medical Conditions/Diseases

The Diabetes Scholars Foundation provides grants and scholarships for college students with Type 1 Diabetes. Awards are decided on a combination of academic merit, community service and financial need.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is one of the best known advocates for the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. The foundation sponsors both grants and scholarships for students who have lost a parent to breast cancer. Awards of up to $10,000 are available, and are decided on a combination of scholastic achievement, community service and financial need.

The Cancer Survivors Fund provides an abundance of financial aid for survivors of cancer, including scholarships and grants to help offset the cost of a college education.

Unique Grant Programs

The Harry S. Truman Library Institute Research Grants Program offers a number of fellowships and scholar awards for graduate students working on research relating to former President Harry Truman. Award amounts vary depending on the program, anywhere from $2500 to $16,000.

The American Association of Cereal Chemists International sponsors a number of  annual fellowship grants for graduate students pursuing research into cereal and grain-based food science. Awards range from $2000 to $3000. Applicants must be student members of the AACC to be considered for the award.

The Massage Therapy Foundation provides grants to students and individuals conducting research in the field of massage therapy. Award amounts are decided by review board, and applicants must submit an outline of their research project for consideration.

Team America Rocket Challenge annually rewards ten high school teams for their excellence in model rocket design. Annual awards include $60,000 in cash and scholarships to be shared amongst the ten finalists.

The National Make It With Wool Contest is open to college students aged 17 – 24. The competition involves the design, manufacture and modeling of an original woolen garment. First prize at the national level is a $1000 education grant.

The American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.) sponsors the Rhoads Research Foundation Grants. These grants are open to graduate students and post-graduate professionals conducting research into clinical nutrition. Award amounts range from $16,000 to $25,000.

The Jewish Vocational Services of Chicago offers grant opportunities to Jewish college students who are residents of Cook County and the Chicago Metropolitan area. Preference is given to those students who are pursuing careers in community service.

The Council on International Education Exchange supports the John Bowman Travel Grant for students who are studying abroad. Emphasis is on non-traditional regions including Africa, Asia and Latin America. All awards are $1000.

Huntingdon College supports a number of grants for both undergraduate and graduate students. These programs include the Scarlet and Grey Grant for members of the college’s marching band and dance team, and the Cross and Flame Grant for active members of the Methodist church. Award amounts range from $4000 to $10,000.

The Endangered Language Fund supports grants for graduate and post-doctoral students who are studying ancient languages. Special emphasis is given to the preservation of Native-American languages.

ED offers three kinds of grants:

Discretionary grants: awarded using a competitive process.
Student loans or grants: to help students attend college.
Formula grants: uses formulas determined by Congress and has no application process.

Discretionary Grants Information
Eligibility and Forecasts

Find Grant Programs by Eligibility: who can apply for what

ED grants forecast: competitions opening soon

Application Information

Federal Register Notices: competitions and other announcements

Apply: Deadlines, amounts, applications, more


Online Applications Application packages for ED programs

G5: Application packages on ED's online grants system

EDPubs: list of downloadable application packages

Pell Grants and Other Information

To get a Pell grant, or other federal aid for college, you must complete the...

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Then explore...

Funding your education, or

Grants and Scholarships

Other grant information

IES funding: funding opportunities from ED's Institute for Education Sciences federal government grant competitions
All formula grants
A-Z list of all programs
Grantmaking at ED: a summary of ED's discretionary grant process
Grants Training Courses
More information about ED programs