After the rush and scramble of the last few weeks of school, summer vacation is probably a welcome break for most students. For those of you who are college-bound, you might be preparing to move on to a brand new phase of your lives, and it’s exciting and a little bit nerve-wracking. Hopefully by this point in the year, you have a solid plan on how to pay for your education. If you won a scholarship, you’re probably feeling pretty excited about that – as you should!
But before you start resting on your laurels, take a few minutes to review the terms of your scholarships. The last thing you want to do is lose eligibility for an award that you thought was in the bag! Here are some things to know about each scholarship you have received.
- Is it renewable? If not, then it’s just a one-time award to help you get started. If so, then you will probably need to file paperwork or meet certain criteria each semester or year to maintain eligibility for your scholarship.
- What kind of criteria do I need to meet? Some typical requirements for maintaining eligibility are: a high GPA for college classes, Satisfactory Academic Progress, filing renewal paperwork with the scholarship provider, or participating in volunteer or community service work. There might be other requirements, depending on the scholarship you received.
- Why do I have to meet all those requirements? Generally speaking, when a person gives you a scholarship they do it because you are exceptional in some way. And they expect you to keep being exceptional and deserving of free money for college.
- What if I don’t meet the requirements for a semester? Many scholarships have a “suspension” or “probation” period, where you get a semester to get your grades back up to scratch. For example, if you get a low GPA during the fall semester, you may be able to have a probationary period for spring semester to improve your grades rather than just losing your scholarship.
Make sure you know exactly what the expectations are for you to keep your eligibility for scholarships! And don’t forget to apply for federal student aid by filing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at fafsa.gov if you haven’t already. Congratulations, and good luck with your higher education!