Lost Your Scholarship? How to Cope
Cancellations and cutbacks to scholarship programs have been making the news a lot lately. Michigan recently ended its state Promise Scholarship in the face of a budget crisis (though the state's governor vows to restore funding) and other states and companies are also having to make some hard cuts. The latest round has left five high-achieving Arizona high school juniors without the four-year full-tuition scholarship they signed a contract to receive in the fifth grade.
Budgetary cutbacks aren't the only way that students can lose scholarship money. Many scholarship funds are only designated for a set amount of time: four years, two years, or just one check. Other awards are contingent on strict eligibility criteria. A dip in your GPA, a semester where you drop below full-time, or a transfer to another college or university could potentially make you ineligible for a renewable scholarship award. All of this can change your college funding picture dramatically from year-to-year.
Students who are transferring will want to see if their new college offers scholarships for transfer students. If your scholarship is from your college, it's unlikely to transfer to your new school unless there's a preexisting special arrangement between the two institutions. However, if you've won an outside scholarship, especially one from a state or national organization, you should contact the provider to see if the award will transfer to your new school. You also will want to do a scholarship search--many national scholarship awards are designated specifically for transfer students, especially students who are moving from community colleges to four-year schools.
Students who have lost their scholarship from not meeting eligibility criteria will often have a chance to appeal the decision to revoke the award. Ask the scholarship provider if there's an appeals process, and follow the instructions exactly in as timely a manner as possible. If there are extenuating circumstances that led to the situation, you may need to document them. Above all, be polite and respectful and try to create a good impression, even if your appeal is denied. Awards that run out can also occasionally be appealed for an extension, or applied for again for a possible second round of funding. Check the rules for the contest or ask the scholarship provider if this is the case. Even if you lose eligibility for one award, it doesn't mean you're ineligible for all scholarship opportunities. Search for scholarships to see what else you may be able to find.
Finally, if your scholarship program has been canceled, there are still things you can do. Some providers, like our Arizona example above, will help students find alternate funding, and may even be able to supplement some of the difference between what they promised and what you can't find on your own. Some colleges are also making up for cuts in high-profile state and local scholarship programs by creating their own scholarship funds for the students affected. Other schools have emergency aid or one-time scholarships available to students who find themselves suddenly without the means to pay their tuition. Check with your financial aid office to see if your school can help.
Students who have already succeeded at winning scholarships are also likely to win more, since so many scholarship providers have similar criteria. If you find yourself caught without scholarship money you had planned to use, try to find some time to apply for additional awards. You may even win more money than what you lost.