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Scholarship vs. Sponsorship: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on September 17, 2023
Scholarship is financial aid awarded for academic or other merit, often to support education. Sponsorship involves financial or in-kind support for an individual, organization, or event, often for promotional reasons.

Key Differences

Scholarship refers to financial assistance given to students based on academic excellence or other types of merit such as artistic talent. This type of financial aid often covers tuition, books, and sometimes living expenses. Sponsorship, on the other hand, is more about financial support or provision of resources to individuals, organizations, or events in exchange for some sort of public acknowledgment or promotional benefit.
In scholarship, the recipients are primarily students, and the focus is on educational advancement. Eligibility is generally determined through a rigorous selection process involving academic records, interviews, and sometimes talent demonstrations. Sponsorship is broader in scope; the recipients can be athletes, events, or even products. Companies or individuals sponsor them for various reasons such as advertising or social responsibility.
From a grammatical standpoint, both scholarship and sponsorship function as nouns. They can also be used as objects in sentences. For example, "She received a scholarship," and "The company offered sponsorship." The derived forms for these words are "scholarly" and "sponsored," which serve as adjectives.
Scholarship and sponsorship can both have tax implications. Scholarships are generally not taxable if used for educational purposes, while sponsorships might be subject to tax, especially if they serve a business purpose. Both forms of financial support are commonly featured in contracts or agreements outlining the terms and conditions of the support provided.

Comparison Chart


Educational advancement
Promotion or support


Primarily students
Varied (individuals, organizations, events)

Tax Implications

Generally non-taxable
May be taxable

Derived Adjective Form


Contractual Elements

Often involves a scholarship agreement
Usually involves a sponsorship contract

Scholarship and Sponsorship Definitions


An award for artistic or athletic talent.
He won a scholarship for his exceptional violin performance.


Provision of resources or services.
The software company offered sponsorship in the form of free licenses.


Financial aid for students based on merit.
She received a scholarship for her excellent grades.


Financial support for an event or activity.
The company provided sponsorship for the charity event.


A grant for educational purposes.
The scholarship covered his tuition and book expenses.


Promotional support in exchange for advertising.
The concert had multiple corporate sponsorships.


A fellowship awarded to postgraduate students.
He secured a research scholarship at the university.


Backing an individual, typically an athlete.
The brand offered him a sponsorship deal.


The methods, discipline, and attainments of a scholar or scholars.


Endorsement and support for a specific cause.
The organization gained sponsorship from several environmental groups.


Knowledge resulting from study and research in a particular field.


One who assumes responsibility for another person or a group during a period of instruction, apprenticeship, or probation.


A grant of financial aid awarded to a student, as for the purpose of attending a college.


One who vouches for the suitability of a candidate for admission, as to an organization.


A grant-in-aid to a student.


A legislator who proposes and urges adoption of a bill.


The character or qualities of a scholar.


(Christianity) One who presents a candidate for baptism or confirmation; a godparent.


The activity, methods or attainments of a scholar.


One that finances a project, event, or organization directed by another person or group, such as a business enterprise that pays for radio or television programming in return for advertising time.


(uncountable) The sum of knowledge accrued by scholars; the realm of refined learning.


To act as a sponsor for.


The first year of high school, often accompanied by exams that needed to be passed before advancement to the higher grades.


(uncountable) The state or practice of being a sponsor.
I find that for me, my sponsorship of a child via a charitable NGO provides a sense of great satisfaction.


(intransitive) To attend an institution on a scholarship.


The aid or support provided by a sponsor; backing or patronage.
The company provided sponsorship to the research team.
The university awarded five sponsorships to the five most qualified applicants.


(transitive) To grant a scholarship to.


State of being a sponsor.


The character and qualities of a scholar; attainments in science or literature; erudition; learning.
A man of my master's . . . great scholarship.


The act of sponsoring (either officially or financially)


Literary education.
Any other house of scholarship.


Maintenance for a scholar; a foundation for the support of a student.


Financial aid provided to a student on the basis of academic merit


Profound scholarly knowledge


Monetary support for academic achievement.
Her scholarship was renewed each year due to her high GPA.


Is a scholarship a loan?

No, a scholarship is generally a grant that doesn't need to be repaid.

Is sponsorship a form of advertising?

Often yes, sponsorship usually involves some form of promotion.

Can companies offer sponsorships for education?

Yes, companies can offer educational sponsorships.

Is a scholarship only for tuition?

No, scholarships can also cover books, room, and board.

What's a sponsorship package?

It's a set of promotional opportunities offered to sponsors.

Can you get a scholarship for sports?

Yes, athletic scholarships are common.

Are sponsorships tax-deductible?

Sponsorships may be tax-deductible if they are considered charitable contributions.

Who can offer sponsorship?

Companies, individuals, and non-profits can offer sponsorships.

Can scholarships cover living expenses?

Some scholarships also cover living expenses.

Is a scholarship taxable?

Scholarships are generally not taxable if used for educational purposes.

Who usually offers scholarships?

Educational institutions, non-profits, and sometimes companies offer scholarships.

Can an event have multiple sponsorships?

Yes, events can have multiple sponsors.

Do scholarships require repayment?

Generally no, scholarships are usually grants that don't require repayment.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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