In the world of scholarships, ‘renewable’ is the golden key. Why? It's simple -- a renewable scholarship is money in the bank. Unlike a non-renewable scholarship, these awards provide funding over multiple years; that’s music to any student’s ears. Unfortunately, many students fail to read the ‘fine print’ on their scholarship award packages and find themselves in a quandary when their financial aid is stripped away. Most renewable scholarships come with stipulations and guidelines that must be followed to continue to receive funding; one simple mistake can lead to a zero balance in your student account. To ensure you receive the full amount of your financial aid award, be sure to follow these simple rules.
Adhere to Deadlines
Most scholarships will require you to submit additional documentation once you have been selected as a recipient. Requested items may include, but are not limited to, a copy of your transcript, financial records and your proof of admission or acceptance. Be sure to provide all documents by the dates indicated in your award letters. Also, make note of any future deadlines when submitting the documentation required for renewing or maintaining awards. Failure to meet any of the deadline dates could result in loss of funding.
Be Aware of Requirements
Most renewable scholarships require students to maintain a certain grade point average, course load and/or enrollment status. Be sure you know what is expected of you. If a scholarship requires you to maintain full-time status, verify the credit hours or number of courses to meet that status per the awarding entity or scholarship provider/committee; it may be different from the "full-time" definition used at your college. Knowing what academic expectations you must meet to keep your scholarship funding should help keep you on track throughout the year.
If you find you have unforeseen circumstances that may prevent you from meeting the renewability requirements, be sure to contact the scholarship administrator as soon as possible. Some programs will place you on scholarship probation and give you a semester to bring your grades or enrollment status back up to standard. If you fail to communicate with them early on, you place yourself in jeopardy of losing your funding for the following semester or, even worse, you may lose the remainder of your funding completely. Remember, communication is the key!
If you have been lucky enough to land a renewable scholarship, take the time to review the entire scholarship package; it’s easy to get caught up in the monetary award and look past items that won’t require your attention for some time. If anything is unclear, contact the scholarship provider or your financial aid advisor to ensure you know exactly what is expected of you. Ask about the ramifications of withdrawing or dropping classes and what recourse you have should you have an unexpected event that requires you to take a semester off; knowing the expectations and your options will prevent any unforeseen loss of funding. You put in the effort to receive the scholarship, so be sure you do everything in your power to keep it. The future of your scholarship funding is in your hands.
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