Skip to main content

How many scholarships and grants can I receive?

Published November 27, 2023| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    It can be challenging to navigate paying for college. Utilizing scholarships and grant opportunities can help you reduce the cost of attending school. Remember, unlike student loans, scholarships and grants typically don’t need to be paid back, which can help reduce how much debt you accrue to pay for college.

    This begs the question: Is there a limit to the number of grants and scholarships a student can receive?

    We’ll dive into this common question, along with others related to applying for scholarships and grants for college.

    How many scholarships can you get?

    There’s no defined limit to the number of scholarships a student can receive or the number of scholarships a student can apply for. Keep in mind that the total you could be awarded is likely restricted to the cost of attendance at your school (meaning, for the most part, you need to use the scholarship money you receive to pay for tuition and other school-related expenses), but beyond that, there are no limits.

    How to get as many scholarships as possible

    The best way to improve your chances of getting as many scholarships as possible is to apply for as many scholarships as possible.

    Start by looking for any scholarship opportunities offered by your school of choice.

    Next, investigate opportunities your state may offer. Many states have offices dedicated to helping students pay for higher education, which may be a good place to look for scholarships.

    Outside of opportunities offered by states, many merit-based, need-based, and demographic-based scholarships are offered by companies, nonprofits, and even individuals. Merit-based scholarships will generally specify a certain Grade Point Average (GPA) needed to apply or additional academic, athletic, or creative requirements. Demographic-based scholarships typically target underrepresented student populations and have specific eligibility requirements.

    It’s important to note that many scholarships are offered every year, so be on the lookout for any emerging opportunities. Always remember that you can receive multiple scholarships at once, so apply to as many opportunities as you can.

    How many grants can you apply for?

    Along with scholarships, there are grants that you might be eligible for, including several from the federal government.

    There are four major government grant programs per academic year, each with their own award limits and eligibility criteria: the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Students must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to see if they qualify for these grants.

    The Pell Grant

    Generally, for undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, the Pell Grant is one of the most well-known federal grant opportunities. For the 2023-24 academic year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395.

    Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG)

    This grant provides supplemental aid to students who demonstrate financial need. Awards generally range between $100 to $4,000 per year and are distributed at schools’ discretion.

    TEACH Grant

    Students committed to working as educators for at least four years in a high-need field at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves low-income families may be eligible for this award. Recipients receive $4,000 per academic year for up to four years.

    Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant

    This grant may be awarded to students who don’t qualify for a Pell Grant based on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC) but who meet the other Pell Grant eligibility requirements and lost a parent or guardian to military service following the events of 9/11 in Iraq or Afghanistan and were under 24 years old or enrolled in college at least part-time at the time of that loss.

    The award amount is generally the same as what the Pell Grant offers for any given academic year. Of note, this grant is currently reduced by 5.7% due to the Budget Control Act of 2011. For grants disbursed after October 1, 2023, and before October 1, 2024, the maximum amount is $6,973.49 per year.

    How to get as many grants as possible

    There are limits to the number of federal grants a student can receive depending on the award. It’s also important to note that there are limitations regarding what federal grants can be used to pay for.

    There are grants offered by states, nonprofits, and companies worth exploring, too.

    Common FAQs about the number of grants and scholarships you can receive

    Can I receive scholarships and FAFSA® money?

    Many wonder if receiving scholarship money will impact their ability to receive federal financial aid that comes from filing the FAFSA® and vice versa, and the answer is maybe. Students must file the FAFSA® to access federal financial aid, but federal financial aid doesn’t prevent students from receiving scholarship money. In many cases, to receive scholarship funds, students must file the FAFSA®.

    Still, there’s something called scholarship displacement that does happen to a portion of students, which could impact students who receive private scholarship funds and who are also looking to receive other financial aid from their university or college.

    What’s scholarship displacement?

    Scholarship displacement is when a student who receives private scholarship funds finds their financial aid package from their college or university reduced or canceled after reporting the private scholarship funds they received to their college or university.

    When a student’s total aid award package — including all scholarships, federal student loans, and other grants and loans — exceeds their calculated need, the college may reduce the amount of need-based financial aid the student receives.

    It’s hard to know precisely how many students are impacted by this practice, but according to a survey conducted by Student Beans, 50% of U.S. college students who receive private scholarships experience scholarship displacement.

    Of note, California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Washington currently have laws restricting scholarship displacement.

    Can you spend scholarship money on anything?

    While some scholarships don’t come with any strings, other scholarships come with certain terms limiting what students can spend the money on. For instance, some scholarships only allow students to use the money for tuition, while others limit spending to tuition and other school-related expenses. Read the fine print on any scholarships you apply for so you’re fully aware of their limits.

    Final thoughts

    Seeking opportunities to apply for scholarships and grants can ultimately help cut the cost of college. These funds can help reduce the amount of money you need to take out in loans, therefore reducing your future debt. By applying for opportunities early and often, you could set yourself up for a bright financial future.