Student loans have changed now that new legislation has come into being. Lets call them Obama student loans as he is the one who put through the legislation and then Congress and the House passed it. Several things have changed but most notably student loans are now from controlled by the government instead of private banks and lending companies like it was before. Still, a college loan is still the same in that it has to be paid back.
College grants are usually given out in the form of Pell grants. People are busy trying to find back to school grants for moms and other types of school grants but it all really boils down to Pell grants. Unlike student loans, the good things about a grant is that it doesn't have to be repaid and that is a very important decision.
You can watch an interesting short video where Suze Orman outlines the dangers of student loans and her belief that they are going to be a big drag on the economy as more and more students start defaulting on them. Student loans are becoming too big with the price of college continuing to rise and students who have recently graduated are now finding it almost impossible to pay back.
With student loans you can't declare bankruptcy and in many cases the jobs graduates are getting are not paying enough to live and also repay the loans. And that is if you can even get a job in the first place!
She suggests going to a community college for the first two years (which is much cheaper) and then go to a state or private college for the last two.
So, if you can get a pell grant or college grant of any kind you should take that first as it doesn't have to be repaid. Unfortunately, most grants are just a small portion of the amount you need to attend college and so you will still need to get a loan for the rest and hopefully a good college job to help you start repaying that loan.