There are many different ways that you can receive extra money to help defer the costs of college. Most students will apply for merit based scholarships and student loans with the hope of being awarded some extra cash to help pay for their tuition. While these are certainly viable options, I do not consider them to be the best ways to receive extra money to pay for a college education. The best option would be college grants.
The reason that college grants are the best way for students to pay for college is that you do not need to meet specific academic requirements as you would with a merit based scholarships. This makes college grants easier to obtain for students. Also, with college grants you do not need to pay any of the money back as you would with a student loan. Since you do not have to repay anything these grants essentially become free money.
Two of the better college grants for students are the Academic Competitiveness Grant and the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant, or SMART Grant. The Academic Competitiveness Grant is only available for freshmen and sophomores with outstanding academic records and have demonstrated aptitudes for leadership and service. The SMART Grant is for undergraduates with a junior or senior standing and are studying computer science, engineering, mathematics or sciences. With the added requirements associated with these two college grants your chances of receiving them will be increased since less people are eligible to apply.
While seeking out different merit based scholarships and students loans are good ways to receive money to help pay for college they are certainly not the only way. College grants for students offer the same end goal with better perks. Because the money associated with a college grant does not need to be repaid this option appears to be the best among the three.