Your student worked hard in high school to earn a merit scholarship in college, but sometimes keeping up the grades once in college, isn’t as easy.
Is your college student on the verge of losing their academic merit scholarships due to their GPA not meeting the threshold?
Or do you have a current high school senior comparing merit scholarship offers? They may want to consider what it takes to maintain the merit scholarship requirements.
Tips to Prevent Losing Merit Scholarships
If your student is about to lose scholarship money that your family can’t afford to lose, take heart. Don’t despair (yet.)
Thankfully there are some little-known methods that students on scholarship can do to remain eligible when they’re in jeopardy. None are ideal. But they’ve saved many a Scholarship.
Withdraw From Classes With Low Grades
By early December, understand that it’s almost certainly after the deadline – so you will need a Dean’s approval for this.
If your grades have been low (or even failing) due to a medical condition (including depression or anxiety) go to student health ASAP to find out the procedure for qualifying for a medical withdrawal. Understand that you will lose credits for the semester, but if it preserves a scholarship you need just to afford college, it’s probably worth it.
Ask for a Course Incomplete
If you can’t get approval to withdraw from the classes that are bringing down your GPA, there’s still something you can do. Ask each Professor in your courses with low grades to give you an incomplete.
This will buy you time to possibly pull up your GPA before your scholarship is lost.
Convert to a Pass/Fail Class
If none of the above are possible, see your academic advisor or the head of the department about converting any low-grade (but still passing) courses to “Pass/Fail” courses instead of a letter grades. At this point, you will need departmental and/or a Dean’s approval for this.
Retake Failing Courses
For winter or summer break your student should enroll to retake (as online classes) every available class they have ever previously gotten a low grade in. From the comfort of your home help them commit to buckling down to ace those courses.
Although their initial, first-time lower grades will still appear on their transcript, when they retake the exact same course, (even if it’s online) the new, higher grade you earn will be the one used in their GPA calculation. This can radically, significantly transform their GPA – in just a few weeks.
Many (if not most) colleges offer their own online courses during break. Retaking the exact same course offered by your actual college during break is the only surefire way I know of to get the low grade actually removed from their GPA calculation.
Ask for More Aid
If your family doesn’t have the money for additional courses during winter or summer break, have your student go to the financial aid office (in person) and speak to the director to ask for any available funds that you might qualify for.
If they haven’t taken their full federal Direct loans yet, this may be the time to take them.
Ask for Eligibility to Be Reassessed
After trying any or several of the above suggestions, have your student ask to have their scholarship eligibility be reassessed.
I’ve seen students successfully implement these tactics to maintain scholarship eligibility.
After freshman year, one of my own children came within 0.01 GPA points of losing their merit scholarship. This was a scholarship with no-probationary grace period. It was “be eligible by the assessment date – or lose it.” (And we found out later that most students do indeed lose it.)
Out of the four students I know who started with that scholarship, by their Senior year of college, my son is the only one who still has it. (And even he came dangerously close to losing it once.) Which leads to the heads up for current high school seniors.
Advice for High School Seniors Comparing Merit Scholarships
Students need to consider the possibility of losing a scholarship when choosing colleges that are out of reach financially. A slip in grades can make an affordable out of state or private scholarship school no longer feasible.
As you’re about to begin comparing college offers – please consider these lessons most students had to learn in the school of hard knocks:
• Pay attention to (and put on your spreadsheet) things like the GPA requirement to keep any offered merit scholarships. If it’s nearly as high as your high school GPA, expect to be in constant jeopardy of losing it.
• Ask admissions what percentage of Seniors still have their initial academic merit scholarship. If it’s a low percentage, consider it a red flag.
• Find out exactly when the college reevaluates continued scholarship eligibility. You need to know this – just in case your own scholarship is ever at risk.
• Be sure you know the college’s procedure if a scholarship recipient goes below the eligibility requirements. Is there a probationary period – or not? For how many semesters?
I sincerely hope your student never needs to use ANY of these methods for keeping scholarships in the first place. But if so, I hope these tips help keep the scholarship money your student worked so hard to get in the first place.
Use College Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
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