Grants and Scholarships

After you've submitted your FAFSA, start looking into grants and scholarships. Sometimes referred to as 'gift-aid', grants and scholarships are types of financial aid that you typically do not have to repay. They are provided by the federal government, state government, colleges, and private organizations.

Helping You Pay for College Series: Scholarships and Grants

While the terms grants and scholarships are often used interchangeably, there is usually a difference between the two. Most grants tend to be need-based and are usually awarded based on you or your family's financial situation. Most scholarships tend to be merit-based and are usually awarded based on academic or athletic abilities. Some organizations will offer scholarships that are need-based, so check the requirements of each scholarship and grant during the application process.

Applying for scholarships is a lot like applying to college. The application process can include many of the same tasks. Make sure to keep essays, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and other important information handy. If you're unsure of your eligibility for a particular scholarship, contact the sponsor with questions.

Federal Grants

Federal grants can be awarded to undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate students. Most are only awarded to students who have a financial need. Check out these federal grant programs to see if you are eligible.

Federal Pell Grants

For undergraduate students with financial need who have not earned a bachelor's, graduate or professional degree. Only under certain circumstances will a Federal Pell Grant need to be repaid.

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

These grants are awarded to undergraduate students who show exceptional financial need. They are administered by the financial aid offices of each participating college. Not all colleges participate so be sure to check with your college's financial aid office. Federal Pell Grant recipients receive priority for this grant.

Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants

These grants are for undergraduate, post-baccalaureate or graduate students who plan to become a teacher in a high-need field or in a low-income area. Participants must be enrolled in a TEACH-Grant-eligible program and meet certain academic achievement requirements (like maintaining a certain GPA). Be sure to contact the financial aid office at your college to find out the requirements of receiving this grant.

Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

For children of parents and guardians that died as a result of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11. Participants must be under 24 or enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of their parent or guardian's death. Participants will need to complete the FAFSA form every year they are in school to remain eligible.

State Grants

State government-funded grants use the FAFSA to help determine your specific financial needs. They are good for helping to fill any gaps that remain after federal assistance aid. Completing your FAFSA will also check for these NC state grants and scholarships.

These state grants are need-based and available to undergraduate students enrolled without a previous bachelor's degree.

NC Scholarship

This scholarship is for North Carolina residents with financial need enrolled in at least 6 credit hours at one of the 16 institutions of The University of North Carolina or at a North Carolina Community College. 

Check My Eligibility

NC Need Based Scholarship for Private College Students

This grant is for North Carolina residents with financial need enrolled at least three-quarter time as undergraduate students at an eligible NC independent non-profit campus.


There are thousands of scholarships out there and the requirements can vary widely, so here is where your special skills or interests can really shine.

A great first place to look is your college's financial aid office. Contact them to see what scholarship options they have that fit your needs. You can also ask your high school counselor. Check your local community as well by contacting local civic groups, businesses, religious groups, non-profit organizations, professional associations, and others.

Start your research early and make sure to meet the deadlines of any scholarships to which you apply. Since a lot of scholarships require essays, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and more, be sure to prepare those early in the process. Some may require an interview so start practicing your interview techniques as well.


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Remember, you should never have to pay to find or receive scholarships. Find and apply for as many as you can!

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