One advantage educational grants have over student loans or scholarships is the application process. With student loans, oftentimes the only option you have for loans are through private lenders, who may have high interest rates and be difficult to navigate.
On the other hand, scholarships primarily come from either third parties or nonprofit groups. Because of this, the application process is vastly different. Scholarships often have additional requirements as well, such as completing an essay or other project.
In comparison, most educational grants use the same application process, based on FAFSA.
FAFSA is a universal application for college financial assistance, with a heavy emphasis on educational grants. Nearly every educational grant requires you to complete FAFSA as part of the application.
Because of this shared requirement, it is easier to apply for multiple grants at the same time. FAFSA has multiple sections, with the two most important being your educational history and expected family contribution (EFC).
You can start your FAFSA while you are in high school. It is advised to start early, since you can receive assistance from school counselors.
Completing your FAFSA early is also a good way to get an idea how expensive college will cost, allowing you and your family to plan ahead.
Starting your application early also speeds up the process once you are ready to apply for assistance. Every year, you are required to update your application. These updates go much quicker than the initial application, and typically involves listing what credits you earned over the year.