Though each specific program may have different requirements, there are many similarities between a fellowship and a scholarship. One of the primary similarities between the two awards is that they are both grants, meaning that the funding provided does not need to be repaid. In many cases, both types of grant also permit the use of excess funds for living expenses, after tuition terms are met. Other qualities that a fellowship and a scholarship may have in common are merit-based qualifications and availability to graduate and post-graduate students.
Possibly the most important similarity between a fellowship and a scholarship are that they are both grants. Grants do not need to be repaid, and can be used to offset school tuition and reduce the amount of financial aid taken out in loan form. Students are often encouraged to pursue both scholarship and fellowship opportunities as a means of reducing their loan burden. In most cases, financial aid received from grant programs is also exempt from income tax.
Another significant similarity between a fellowship and a scholarship is their method of distribution. Fellowships and scholarships are usually given directly to the school of the recipient, so that the amount is directed primarily toward tuition. If the award is greater than the amount of tuition and other fees, the student may receive the extra as a refund, which can be used toward books or living expenses. The availability of this refund can be greatly beneficial to many students, who may be unable to work regular jobs while attending school.
Though some scholarships are awarded based on financial need, a great many fellowships and scholarships are based on merit. Different foundations and institutions may award either fellowships or scholarships for superior academic performance, athletic ability, volunteer or community work, or merit in a particular area, such as research or essay writing. Merit-based fellowships and scholarships are often intensely competitive, as the best minds in each field may be fighting for a limited pool of awards.
Scholarships are frequently awarded to undergraduate university students, but graduate, post-graduate, and doctoral students may be eligible for both a fellowship and a scholarship, or sometimes several awards in either category. Since the costs of graduate and professional schools are often much higher than undergraduate courses, there may be more fellowships and scholarships available to graduate students. Whether a graduate award is called a scholarship or a fellowship may depend on the granting organizations choice, or the specific terms of the award.