By TamaraI bet you thought that applying for scholarships was the hardest part of winning free money for college, right? Guess again. Although it does take some time to complete scholarship applications and craft those amazing essays, keeping them can be an even greater responsibility. Most scholarship providers will expect you to meet specific criteria to receive funding, such as maintaining your grades or enrolling in a certain number of credit hours each semester; if you fail to meet these guidelines, the scholarship may be revoked. Unfortunately, life sometimes gets in the way and stuff happens. If you find yourself in the precarious predicament of losing one or more of your scholarships, don’t give up hope just yet. You may be able to salvage your scholarship through a process known as a scholarship appeal. It’s important to note that the appeal process will not help you if you failed to meet the required number of classes or grade point average due to homesickness, too much partying, or the inability to wake up for your early morning classes. Scholarship providers are not interested in those ‘my dog ate my homework’ excuses, but they may consider an appeal for extenuating circumstances, such as a serious accident/illness, a death in the family, or another incident that may have hindered your academic progress. If you believe you may have grounds for an appeal, follow these five steps to help increase your chances for approval. 1. Contact the Provider If your scholarship is through your college, you will need to contact the financial aid office to determine which forms are required to file an appeal. For private scholarships, contact the provider directly to inquire about the scholarship appeal process and what is required for consideration. It’s important to ask about deadlines for submitting your appeal, as most colleges and organizations will set a time limit for receiving your request. Be sure to get the contact information for who will be handling the appeal, including email, telephone and mailing address (if needed), so you can submit everything on time. 2. Take Responsibility It is important to submit a letter with your scholarship appeal form(s) that outlines why you had your scholarship revoked. Although the scholarship provider and appeals committee will be well aware of the circumstances surrounding your case, it demonstrates that you take responsibility for your actions and understand why you are in this predicament. 3. Explain the Circumstances After you have detailed why your award is being revoked, explain the circumstances that prevented you from maintaining your eligibility. Be clear and concise. State your case with facts and do not embellish. Be sure to include a timeline of the events, providing relevant information that clearly shows why you were unable to meet the requirements for the scholarship. 4. Provide Proof It is important to provide documentation for any claims you make in your scholarship appeal. For example, if you are claiming that a serious illness prevented you from maintaining eligibility, be prepared to submit a physician’s note on letterhead, which details your condition, dates of absences and recommendations for your recovery. You should also expect to submit invoices and/or insurance statements. In cases of a family death, a note from the mortuary, death certificate and/or funeral program may suffice. Other types of documentation include, but are not limited to: police reports and legal/court documentation. 5. Create a Plan of Action Knowing why your scholarship was revoked and explaining the circumstances that led to the loss of your award are not enough. You will need to give the appeals committee evidence that you are taking steps to prevent this from happening again. Include a plan of action for maintaining academic standards, such as working with a tutor, cutting back work hours or reducing your course load. If you are battling a long-term illness, provide information on how you plan to manage your symptoms, including registering with your campus student disability office or another on-campus resource center. Depending on your circumstances, your college financial aid office or scholarship provider may approve your appeal and place you on scholarship probation. Typically, you will have one semester to pull up your grade point average or meet the other requirements for your award. If you are given a second chance, be sure to thank the appeals committee and assure them that you will work hard to maintain your eligibility. You probably worked very hard to win your scholarship, so it’s important that you make the effort to keep it, too.