What to Do If Your Scholarship Is in Jeopardy

Six common reasons scholarships are revoked—and two steps to respond

By Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on November 21, 2023

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Students heading off to college enter full of anticipation, diving headlong into every opportunity to learn, grow, and change. But like so many challenges in life, college can prove a difficult balance.

One of the main challenges that comes with going to college is the cost of attendance. If a college scholarship or financial aid package is revoked, college costs can become unmanageable.

Six Reasons Why Scholarships May Be Revoked

As a college student, there are six main reasons for financial aid and scholarship money to become jeopardized:

  1. Academic performance has slipped, violating eligibility requirements for the specific aid offered;
  2. The amount of credits taken or completed in an academic year doesn’t fulfill requirements;
  3. Your institution raised its fees and tuition amounts;
  4. Your parents get a raise that puts them in a new tax bracket and therefore disqualifies you from financial need-based aid;
  5. The school you’re attending offers fewer scholarships to second through fourth-year students than they do for first years;
  6. 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 of scholarship funds would be panic. But shutting down is not the answer. There are a number of things you can do to help yourself out.

1. Speak with Financial Aid to Learn Exactly Why Your Scholarship Was Revoked

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 office, be certain to gather any information about possible other scholarships and your options for modifying your federal student loans through FAFSA. You may have to change directions, so bringing all of the pertinent information will be an asset in getting out of this situation.

2. Once You Know the Underlying Issue, You Can Take Specific Steps to Address It

If your revocation of aid was due to an insufficient grade point average 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 full-time 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 merit scholarship is being revoked, there almost always is a review process posted by the athletic or artistic board that controls it.

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, given by the U.S. Department of Education, 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 student 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 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 and related content on school and education law.

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