How Not to Lose a College Scholarship

Keeping your college scholarship is essential in order to help you pay for school. Here are five situations you need to know about to keep your scholarship.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

October 26, 2020

How Not to Lose a College Scholarship
Avoid these five circumstances in order to keep your college scholarship.
Winning a college scholarship takes a lot of hard work. First, you have to find the scholarships, which is made a lot easier by being a Fastweb member. But then you may spend weeks, months, even years applying for scholarships in high school or while in college. When you finally win one, it’s a major victory. Not only do you feel on top of the world, but you have the financial assistance to realize a very real dream – attending college. Contrary to what you may think, though, winning a scholarship is only half the battle. You have to fight to keep it. Don’t learn the hard way that you can sometimes lose a college scholarship. Avoid doing the following, and you’ll remain in good standing.

Renewable Scholarships

The first way to lose a college scholarship is not technically a loss. It’s simply that a scholarship may not be renewable. A renewable scholarship is a scholarship that can be renewed each academic year for the same amount that was initially awarded. For instance, if you win a $10,000 scholarship and it’s renewable, you’ll receive $10,000 in scholarship money every school year. Most scholarships are not renewable, so if you won a $10,000 scholarship, you would need to spread that out over your college career. To find out if your scholarship is renewable, you need to talk with your admissions department, financial aid administrator or outside scholarship provider. It depends on who awarded you the scholarship. By asking whether or not a scholarship is renewable as soon as it's awarded, you’ll be better able to plan to pay for college throughout your entire career.

Eligibility Changes

Scholarships for college students are awarded based on eligibility, so in order not to lose your college scholarship, you need to maintain eligibility. Essentially, there aren’t just requirements to win a scholarship, there are standards to keep the scholarship too. Scholarship eligibility requirements may be the following: • Designated expenditures – This details what the scholarship covers – just tuition or tuition, fees and books. If you spend the scholarship on something other than what the scholarship is for, you could lost it.
GPA – If the scholarship required a minimum grade point average to qualify or to maintain the scholarship and you fall below, you could lose the scholarship.
Satisfactory academic progress – Similar to maintaining the designated GPA, you could lose your college scholarship if you fail to take the required classes or complete your degree within a certain time period.
Full-time status – Oftentimes, scholarships require that you have at least a part-time or full-time status as a student. If you fall below the minimum or fail to enroll, you could lose a college scholarship.
Study within a designated field – Some scholarship programs are for particular fields of study – or majors. If you change you're switching majors, you could lose your scholarship.
College choice – Changing colleges could also affect your scholarships, especially merit scholarships that were distributed by the school you’re leaving.
Community service hours – Your scholarship may require a set amount of community service hours each semester or school year. Failing to meet those hours could result in a loss of scholarship.
Military service – Military scholarships, like ROTC, require training during college as well as service after graduation.
Extracurricular involvement – Finally, some scholarships are awarded on the basis of involvement in a certain extracurricular activity, like athletics. If you quit that particular activity, you could risk losing your scholarship.

Change in Family Finances

Some scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need – that’s why it’s imperative to fill out the FAFSA each year. If your family’s financial circumstances change, it could make you lose a college scholarship. With that, if it’s still difficult for you to make your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward the tuition bill, you can always negotiate that with the financial aid office at your school. Just because you lose a college scholarship doesn’t necessarily mean that college will become unaffordable. Don’t panic; simply talk to someone that can help.

Using the Scholarship for Ineligible Expenses

Many scholarships come with stipulations, such as where the scholarship money can actually be applied. Typically, scholarships are required to cover education related expenses, like tuition, fees or books. Some will even extend to room and board. And a select few will cover anything and everything – even a spring break trip. To know what your scholarship covers and what it doesn’t, you must reach out to the scholarship provider. They will have all of the requirements that you must meet in order to keep your scholarship. Failure to spend your scholarship in the right ways could risk losing it completely.

Change in Your Circumstances

This last point is hard. You could lose a college scholarship for underperforming, getting injured or falling into trouble. While most of these variables apply only to athletes, any student with a scholarship is at risk of losing it for underperforming in the classroom or falling into trouble. If students do not meet academic standards, whether playing for a school team or not, they could lose a college scholarship. Furthermore, if an athlete is injured and can no longer play the sport, they will likely lose their college athletic scholarship. Finally, this applies to scholarships across the board: if a student gets into trouble at the school, the institution has every right to take away the scholarship. If you fall into a situation in which you may lose a college scholarship, the first thing you should do is speak to your financial aid administrator. You can talk through circumstances, and get a better understanding of where your scholarship and financial aid packages stand. If you do lose a college scholarship for whatever reason, remember that you can always apply for more scholarships. There is no time limit to when you must stop looking for scholarships; after all, there are opportunities for college seniors as well as graduate students. So don't let a loss of scholarship keep you from searching and applying to more scholarships.

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Kathryn Knight Randolph

Associate Content Editor

Kathryn Knight Randolph is the Associate Content Editor at Fastweb. She has 17 years of higher education experience, working first as an Admissions Officer at DePauw University before joining Fastweb. In b...

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