Paying for College – Terms and Definitions


 All this financial aid jargon have you confused?  Here’s a quick vocab lesson:

Grants: A grant is a financial award given to a student for the purposes of paying all or some college expenses.  A grant does not have to be repaid by the student.

Scholarships: An award that does not have to be repaid.
     Campus-based scholarships and grants are awarded from the colleges and universities themselves to admitted students.  These awards vary from $100 per year to full-ride scholarships and grants.  These include Need-based, Merit-based, athletic, and specific attribute scholarships.  Generally, all students must complete a FAFSA in order for the college to consider offering need-based scholarships and grants.
     Private scholarships are from national organizations, local organizations (such as Rotary Club), private foundations, parents’ employers, individuals, religious groups, professional organizations, or companies).  These vary from approximately $100 up to several thousands of dollars per year and include Need-based, Merit-based, and specific attribute scholarships.

Loans: Financial aid awards that the student or parent borrows from a lender, the school or other third party.  Loans must be repaid by the borrower according to the terms of a promissory note, usually with interest.  Can apply for loans with the FAFSA (  The Federal Stafford loans generally have more flexible terms and lower interest rates than applying for a loan through a private lender or bank.

Work-Study: A Work-study program allows a student to earn money by working part time during the school year as a component of their financial aid package, based on the information from their FAFSA.  The jobs are usually on campus and the student must apply and interview for the position.

There are huge numbers of scholarships, grants and other prizes available to all students.  Financial aid and scholarships aren’t just for the valedictorian or varsity quarterback.  By following these tips, you can increase your chances of tapping into the billions of dollars available every year to students just like you!

Step 1: EVERYONE should fill out the FAFSA ( after January 1st, even if you don’t think you’ll demonstrate a financial need.  Schools will use the information to possibly award additional monies.
Step 2: Research and apply for private scholarships (See a list of scholarship sites listed under the “Scholarships” tab on this Virtual CRC website).  Visit the financial aid/scholarship page of the college you’re attending, after you’ve been offered admission, to identify any additional campus-based scholarships that may require an additional application or essay.
Step 3:  Supplement with loans if necessary.  Stafford Loans (through FAFSA) are best.
Step 4: Repeat steps 1-3 each school year!

Beware of scholarship scams!  Always use FREE resources!
Scams can be received via phone, letter in the mail, or email.  You should not have to “pay” for FREE money.  For more information about scholarship scams or to report a scam: Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website at

See Ms. Colon, Career Specialist, in the Career Resource Center, Room 300, for any questions or if you’d like assistance with your scholarships search.