There are many types of financial aid available in helping you pay for college. They share one basic thing: money to help students fund school. However, there are some subtle differences that can be potentially confusing.
Scholarships: Usually have few requirements other than the student stay enrolled, get good grades, and stay out of trouble. Eligibility could be determined by almost any number of factors, so this is usually the most open-ended financial aid.
Contests: Are centered around some sort of research, competition, or presentation. Some athletic contests include financial aid, and some science fair contests can result in cash prizes, too. If you search online, it will be easy to find writing contests, blogging contests, and contests related to almost any hobby or skill you can think of.
Grants: Are sums of money donated to further a particular cause. With state grants, the cause is to get more students in the state going to school, or getting more students studying the majors and careers that are highest in demand. Federal grants are designed to help students with a lot of financial need, and private grants are usually offered to advance the objectives of a private professional organization or specific subject of academic study.
Fellowships: Pay students to represent a group or an idea. Many fellows will be required to dedicate some time and effort to helping the public relations and academic contributions of the group providing the funding. Fellowships are extremely prestigious and can help fund your education and even help you find a good job afterward.
Loans: Have to be paid back! They aren’t really financial aid at all (unless they are subsidized) but they can sometimes be necessary to make ends meet.