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5 ways you can lose a scholarship and how to get it back

Published May 6, 2024| minute read
Hadiya Iqbal

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Scholarships are a great way to help pay for your education. Though it takes a lot of work to apply for them, they can be a beneficial tool to help you complete school without having to take out a mountain of student loans.

    However, the work doesn’t stop at applying for scholarships. After you’re awarded the money, you’re typically held to specific academic and personal standards. Not holding up your end of the agreement could result in the loss of the scholarship.

    Here’s how you could potentially lose a scholarship and what to do if that happens.

    How can you lose a scholarship?

    1. Bad academic performance

    Are you struggling to keep your grades up? A low Grade Point Average (GPA) is one way you could lose a scholarship, especially if it has strict GPA requirements or is merit-based. When you accept money for a scholarship, make sure you fully understand the academic standards you’ll be held to. The last thing you want is to depend on money that doesn’t come through because your GPA dipped a point or two too low.

    2. Not meeting credit requirements

    It happens to the best of us — wanting to drop classes you’re not doing well in or just don’t feel like you can handle in a given semester. Some scholarships, however, come with minimum semester credit requirements that you need to ensure you meet.

    Many scholarships expect you to be a full-time student that exceeds academic expectations. Before dropping any classes, make sure you understand the number of credits you’re expected to be enrolled in a semester to keep your scholarships.

    3. Switching majors

    If you got your scholarship based on your major, there’s a chance you could lose that money if you decide to switch majors.

    There’s nothing wrong with switching majors. It happens more often than you think. But when a scholarship is involved, you might not be able to take that money with you. It’s one aspect of making the switch that you’ll need to consider.

    4. Going to another college

    If you decide to transfer schools and have an institutional-based scholarship, you’ll likely lose that money when you get to your new school.

    While there’s always the option that you could be considered for a scholarship at your new school, you shouldn’t assume that scholarship money from a previous school will transfer with you.

    5. Getting in trouble

    Many organizations and institutions that give out scholarships expect students to behave according to a set of standards. That means not getting in trouble with the law or at school and holding yourself to specific standards. Whether it’s substance abuse or plagiarism, you should know that any bad decision you make while on a scholarship can jeopardize that scholarship.

    When an organization awards you a scholarship, you’re often expected to reflect that organization's standards and ethics. If you don’t live up to those standards, there’s always the chance that they’ll take away your scholarship.

    How can you get a scholarship back if you lose it?

    If you lose your scholarship for any of the reasons above, there are a few things you can try to do to get it reinstated.

    File an appeal with your financial aid office

    If it’s a school-based scholarship, there may be an opportunity to file an appeal. You’ll need to contact the financial aid office and ask them about the process. Be sure to inquire about deadlines, contact information, and documents they might need.

    Apologize and have a plan

    An apology can go a long way if you’ve made a mistake that led you to lose a scholarship. Owning up to what you did, whether it was bad grades or a bad decision, and having a plan for how you'll make it right can help you get back in the good graces of the scholarship organization.

    If you couldn’t keep up academically because of a personal or family issue, you can explain the situation and provide documentation. You may get your scholarship back if you’ve faced certain hardships. It’s worth speaking to the organization to see if they have an appeal process.

    Talk to your financial aid office

    There’s always the possibility that if you lose a scholarship, that it'll not be reinstated. Unfortunately, you’ll need to find other ways to help pay for college. If that’s the case, talk to your financial aid office to see if there’s anything they can do to help you. They may be able to recommend additional scholarships you can investigate or suggest you file an aid appeal to get more federal aid toward your education.

    Final thoughts

    We all know that getting a scholarship typically takes a lot of hard work, but keeping it is just as hard. Once you have the money in hand, that doesn’t mean you can slack off or do whatever you want. If you depend on scholarship money to help you get through school, make sure you’re aware of all the requirements of your scholarships so you don’t lose that money.

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