What Happens if You Get More Scholarship Money than Needed?

Getting too much scholarship and financial aid money sounds like a dream come true -- but it is possible.

Kathryn Knight Randolph

January 10, 2023

What Happens if You Get More Scholarship Money than Needed?
Uncover the facts about what happens when a student gets over-awarded with scholarships.
This is the kind of things dreams are made of: you enter yourself into a large, sweepstakes-esque scholarship and together with your merit aid you get more money for college than needed! Hooray! Woohoo! Time to do ALL of the celebratory dances! Like all things concerning college though, there is more that you should know about what happens if you get more scholarship money than needed.

How You Get More Scholarship Money than Needed

Let’s start at square one. Students pay for college in a variety of ways. Hopefully, by the time the student enters college, they – or their parents – have saved to help fund some of the tuition costs. In October every year, students have the opportunity to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to qualify for financial aid, another means with which they can pay for college. This ranges in form from grants to work study to student loans to help pay for college. Finally, students can pay for college with scholarships. Many students are awarded merit aid from their school when they are admitted into the college. Other students receive scholarships for their athletic abilities, music experience or philanthropic contributions.
In addition to these opportunities, every student should also complete their own scholarship search. This involves filling out a profile on Fastweb with information like your GPA, test scores, colleges of interest and extracurricular involvement. We also ask about current or previous health issues, parents’ place of employment, and affiliations. In asking for these details, we make sure we’re able to match you to any and all scholarships for which you may qualify. By combining these different ways to pay for school, students may find that they get more money than they needed.

Next Steps When You Get More Scholarship Money than Needed

As you apply for scholarships, it’s best to keep track of which opportunities you apply for and which ones you win. By keeping your scholarship search organized, you’ll be able to take the next steps to see what happens if you get more money than needed. Once you have won a scholarship, you are required to report it to the college you plan to attend. The school then reassesses the financial aid package. Basically, when a student wins a scholarship, they become less “needy,” which means they do not need as much financial aid. Usually, a school will first subtract funds from the student loan component of the package, leaving any grant or work study money alone. However, students should always clarify with the school when they report a scholarship that they would like student loans removed from the package first.

What Else To Do If You Get More Scholarship Money than Needed

Sometimes, students receive so many scholarships that they are able to eliminate financial aid as a way to pay for school. Essentially, they get the privilege of going to school for free! In that case, you need a plan for how to use any additional money that is won. After you have covered tuition, fees and room and board, there are other student expenses that can be covered if you get more money than needed. Use the awards toward big purchases like a laptop or printer, flights to and from school if you have a big commute or books. What students may not realize is that there is a lot more cost to attending college than just tuition and living costs. In order to do this, you must contact the scholarship provider directly to discuss their award policy. While some providers will only allow the money to cover tuition costs, others will allow students to pay any college costs with the award amount. There are also a few scholarships out there that don’t care how you spend your winnings! So use the money to pay for a spring break trip or repair your car. The point is that you must contact any and all scholarship providers after you’ve won to get the details on how you can and cannot use the money when it comes to college costs.

Can You Get Paid to Go to College If You Get More Scholarship Money than Needed

At this point, you may be wondering what happens when you get more scholarship money than needed – and it exceeds your financial aid package. Can students really get paid to go to school? There have been multiple cases where students have graduated from their college with thousands of extra dollars because they won so many scholarships while they were in school. However, those scenarios are few and far between. In an article from CNN, one financial aid expert pointed out that only .3% of students are able to cover the entirety of their college costs with scholarships, and the number of students that get paid to go to college is even smaller. So how can you get yourself into this situation? How can you get more money than needed? Apply to scholarships early and often. Start the scholarship search as a high school freshman or sophomore. Continue to apply for opportunities through the senior year of college – or graduate school if you continue your education. Make it a part-time job, taking time each week to find scholarships, fill out applications and write essays. With this strategy, you will set yourself up to hopefully win scholarships to pay for college – and perhaps win more than you need. Find a list of quick-apply scholarships and make it a goal to apply for at least two per month. Featured Scholarships are typically some of the easiest scholarships to apply for, too!

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