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Financial Aid vs Scholarships

Published on February 9, 2023

blog Harvard Trending

Financial Aid vs Scholarships


Though the terms “scholarship” and “financial aid” very often are used interchangeably the main difference between the two is that “scholarship” as a term and as a phenomenon in the academic and educational industry is considered to be a component of “financial aid”. Thus “scholarship” is only a small portion of “financial aid”.

Other types of financial aid are “fellowships”, “grants”, “travel grants”, “studentships”, “loans”, “tuition fee waivers”, “study allowances”, etc, but the “scholarship” remains the most popular type of “financial aid”.

Financial Aid and Ivy League Colleges

“Our goal is to bring the most promising students to Harvard—period. We’ve created a financial aid program to help ensure that admitted students can afford their Harvard education. Our financial aid officers will work closely with your family to understand your financial situation, then create a comprehensive financial aid package that accounts for the full cost of attendance and determine need based on your family’s income, assets, and overall financial circumstances.”

– Harvard Admissions Office

“Princeton is attainable, accessible, and affordable. Our aid program is designed to encourage all qualified students — regardless of financial circumstances — to consider applying for admission to Princeton. . Princeton admission is need-blind — there is no disadvantage in the admission process for financial aid applicants. If offered admission, Princeton will meet 100% of your demonstrated financial need with grant aid.”

– Princeton Admissions Office

Financial aid to Ivy League schools is only based on financial need, not academics. So if you meet low-income criteria, then most of the Ivy League schools will meet the full financial need if accepted.

To conclude “Financial aid” in the context of education is a term to describe any type of financial assistance to students and researchers to cover necessary costs of education such as the tuition fee, living costs and accommodation costs. Financial aid may be of different types and depending on the type it may be as a gift or as a debt, that should be returned within a certain amount of years.

Scholarship is a division of financial aid and only describes financial assistance as a gift with no obligation to return the received money to the scholarship provider.

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