Scholarships are definitely a good way to have a more affordable college experience. They can substantially lower annual tuition expenses. If you are fortunate to land a scholarship from your college or university, pay attention to the terms of the award. Eligibility, including ongoing awards, typically have some requirements or stipulations. It’s very important to adhere to the rules or regulations and meet deadlines to keep the scholarship for as long as possible.
Examples of ongoing eligibility include things like enrollment and GPA. Sometimes the recipient of a scholarship must remain a full-time student to be eligible to receive the scholarship amount for four consecutive years.
Generally, a student who takes at least 12 credits per semester is considered a full-time student and those carrying less than 12 credit hours are considered part-time. Other scholarships require recipients to maintain a certain cumulative GPA to be eligible for a year-to-year award. The scholarships are renewed based on satisfactory academic performance. These specifications can vary, but scholarships that are renewed on an annual basis – based on GPA – often state that recipients must maintain a 3.0 GPA.
Additionally, multi-year scholarships could potentially require students to participate in extracurricular activities, complete a number of community service hours or maintain status on a sports team. It all depends on the terms of the scholarship. Sometimes requirements are very clear and multifaceted. Take scholarship example A, for instance.
Scholarship A says that a student must be at least 50% from a specific heritage, enrolled in a four-year accredited university, maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, and pursuing a math-related major.
Scholarship B, on the other hand, requires female students who have displayed strong achievement in high school, have excellent character, and live in a certain geographical area to remain on the girls’ softball team for the duration of college.
The examples show very different parameters for requirements.
Other unique parameters for maintaining a scholarship include living on campus for the first two years of school, being a first-generation college student, or living in a community with historically low college attendance rates.
Another unique situation is a scholarship that is specifically reserved for vocational or technical schools, programs that traditionally last two years. Many times vocational school scholarships are merit based and last the duration of the program, so in this case, the scholarship would last two academic years.
Yet another example of continuing scholarship eligibility includes financial need of a student. Many times, scholarships are renewable for up to four years and awards can be based on need. For instance, students who demonstrate financial need might receive $2,000 in a renewable university-sponsored scholarship, while students who do not demonstrate financial need might receive a $1,000 renewable scholarship from the same university.
Something that can be overlooked is deadlines. If a stipulation of maintaining the scholarship over multiple years of college is simply meeting deadlines, students need to have their ducks in a row so funding isn’t stripped away. Paperwork deadlines can include financial information, proof of acceptance, reapplying for the scholarship from year to year and a copy of grades/transcripts.
Although many scholarships are renewable for up to four years, and vocational scholarships are good for two academic years, some scholarships are only good for one academic year. These are called nonrenewable awards. These awards are only intended to be applied to the first year of college only. Sometimes called first-year scholarships, the money is only allotted for freshman students in their first year. This is to springboard them into college with the hope that they will stay for the duration, further making the college experience an investment in their future.
If students are eligible, any scholarship amount is worth applying for. Not only do scholarships make the college experience more affordable, they can be the difference between making college unattainable to becoming possible for some students.
It’s clear that scholarship length differs based on circumstances, eligibility and terms. It’s also worth noting that the application process doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. If funds are needed for college, a student can try to reapply from year to year and find ongoing opportunities.