What to Do If Your Scholarship is in Jeopardy
Don’t panic and consider finding legal help
on August 20, 2018
Updated on April 21, 2022
Students heading off to college enter bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, diving headlong into every opportunity to learn, grow and change. But like so many challenges in life, college can prove a difficult balance, and after some time that full-ride scholarship may be revoked.
There are six main reasons for financial aid and scholarships to become jeopardized:
- Grades have slipped to disqualify you from the specific aid offered
- The amount of credits taken or completed doesn’t fulfill requirements
- Your institution raised their fees and tuition amounts
- Your parents get a raise that puts them in a new tax bracket and therefore disqualifies you for need-based aid
- The school you’re attending offers less scholarships to second- through fourth-year students than they do for freshmen
- A coach or teacher has deemed your skills or talents insufficient to continue receiving a non-academic scholarship.
A natural first reaction to being blindsided by a revocation would be panic. But shutting down is not the answer. There are a number of things you can do to help yourself out.
What You Can Do
First, find out the nature of your revocation. It is best practice in any situation to have a good understanding of what your aid package contained and the reasons for the loss or modification. You will also want to inquire about the process of any appeal that may be possible.
In your conversations with the financial aid department, be certain to gather any information about possible other scholarships and your options for modifying your federal student loans. You may have to change directions, so bringing all of the pertinent information will be an asset in getting out of this situation.
If your revocation of aid was due to grades not being satisfactory or an insufficient amount of credits, then your first job is to get tutors or academic coaches and show that you are working to remedy this situation. Be proactive in your pursuit of the required grades and credits. Plan for the future semesters so that credit amounts are not overlooked, and document any steps taken to address the problem. All of these things will be useful in the appeal process.
If you have had a change in financial circumstances, it’s possible there were other extenuating circumstances at play, too. Whatever they are, it is likely relevant in your appeal. Many personal issues that could have caused grades to slip or classes to be dropped can be understood and taken into consideration when aid is on the line. If a talent-based scholarship is being revoked, there almost always is a review process posted by the athletic or artistic board that controls them.
When such life-altering circumstances are being faced, all possibilities must be considered. Perhaps seeking out schools that may be suitable to transfer should be examined. It may make the most sense to find a cheaper school if your tuition and fees have been raised to unaffordable levels.
Often federal aid can be increased to meet new needs or missing funding. Aid is offered at lower interest rates than private loans, and should be pursued first. Any shortfall after federal aid can be made up with private loans, but this path must be evaluated carefully.
All of these considerations are substantial choices at a pivotal moment in a student’s life. Making such decisions without experienced and reputable counsel may be a mistake. And certainly if one wants to appeal any decisions, an attorney would also come in handy. For more information on this area of law, see our overview of consumer law.