This story was first shared in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow.
When I was overseeing the academic recovery program at a nationally ranked HBCU, one-third of the students in the program were scholarship students. To help future college-bound students, I’d like to share some advice about scholarship renewal.
One-Time vs. Renewable Scholarships
If your child received an institutional freshman scholarship, confirm with the college whether it’s a one-time or renewable scholarship.
Many universities offer a one-time scholarship to incoming freshmen to make the institution more appealing and appear more affordable. It often only covers the first year. If this is the case, consider how you’ll cover the cost of that lost scholarship between sophomore year and graduation.
If your child received a renewable/full-ride scholarship for four years, congratulations! Just remember that the money isn’t guaranteed. Make sure your child understands the renewal requirements. For example, if a university requires that your student maintain a minimum cumulative 3.5 GPA, they will rescind that scholarship if they fall below that. If the renewal requirements say they must have a minimum cumulative 3.5 GPA and at least 30 credits completed by the end of the academic year, that’s also important to note.
I’ve seen firsthand how those renewable/full-ride scholarships can be here today but gone tomorrow. As I also served on the scholarship appeals committee at the HBCU, I know that universities are inclined to deny scholarship appeals. Once a student loses a scholarship, the money is funneled to other programs.
Why Scholarship Renewals Get Rescinded
In my experience, there are two main reasons why students lose their full-ride scholarships:
Students treat their college schedule like a high school schedule, enrolling in classes all day. The rigor and pace of college courses far exceed the high school level, and even if they took AP and IB courses in high school, they just aren’t the same as an entry-level college class.
Students are unfamiliar with the scholarship contract and the renewal requirements. Sometimes they confuse their term GPA with their cumulative GPA, they confuse attempted credits with earned credits, or they change their major not knowing the money was tied to the initial major and doesn’t transfer.
If you have a student with a scholarship who is entering college in the fall, be sure to to review the scholarship details so you can avoid these common pitfalls.
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