Reaping the Reward: How to Keep up With Your Scholarship’s Requirements
By Alyssa Abel
By Alyssa Abel, Syllabusy.com
Have you scored a college scholarship? Congratulations! Earning a scholarship or grant is more than a great way to pay for college — it’s also a reward for your all your hard work. But now what? Most students focus on earning scholarships, but keeping them is just as important. You’re putting in a lot of effort, so don’t let it go to waste.
Many scholarships are renewable, meaning they allow you to reapply or re-qualify for the same money year after year — as long as you maintain the organization’s requirements. Want to make sure you remain in control of your award and make college affordable? If so, follow the tips below to ensure you’re a good steward of your scholarship.
1. Take a Certain Number of Classes
Most scholarships require you to be enrolled in college full time to maintain eligibility. The number of classes needed to fill your schedule will depend on the school. A complete load is typically 12 credit hours.
Did you apply for a scholarship with a particular major in mind? If you want to switch, it could affect your funding. Always check the conditions of your award before you make any major changes to your education. If you decide a major switch is a must, start looking for different scholarships.
2. Don’t Misuse Scholarship Funds
If you win a scholarship, it will come with stipulations on what you can use the money for. Mainly, it will go toward tuition payments. Some organizations allow you to use the funds for books, supplies, housing and more. It’s essential to read the rules before you spend any money.
Use the funds for only what the scholarship explicitly allows, or else you could lose it all. If you’re unsure, don’t be afraid to ask. Some organizations will require you to send along reports with receipts.
3. Keep Your Grades Up
One of the first rules you’re likely to see on a conditional scholarship is a minimum GPA, such as a 3.0 or higher. It’s vital to stay on top of your studies and ensure your grades are satisfactory. If they take a nosedive, consider talking with an on-campus tutor or asking your professor for extra credit assignments.
High grades, especially when combined with a scholarship, can open additional educational opportunities critical to achieving your career goals. After all, a good education allows you to invest in your future and improve your career satisfaction. A proactive person has their future mapped out, even when they’re still knocking out gen-eds.
4. Avoid Breaking the Rules
It’s common sense, but it’s worth saying — don’t break the rules. This applies to both laws and school regulations. If you get caught drinking underage, using illegal substances or driving under the influence, you can face serious consequences. Plus, you’ll likely lose your scholarship and pay more for your college tuition.
Seemingly small infractions can result in lost money. Plagiarism or cheating could cost you. Be careful of what you post online and on social media, as you now represent an organization. If you win a scholarship, don’t risk it. Remember, whoever gave you the money has the power to take it back.
5. Participate in a Specific Activity
Some scholarships are activity- or group-based. Did you get money for being an excellent soccer player? Perhaps you have a knack for pottery or jewelry-making. Often, your scholarship is dependent on your continuing participation. If you decide you no longer want to play on a field or work with clay, you might lose your funding.
If a circumstance occurs where you can no longer participate in your chosen activity, reach out to the scholarship organization. For example, say you’re a soccer player who breaks a leg. You may need to take a semester off school. However, the organization may be willing to reinstate your scholarship once you restart.
6. Learn About Service Requirements
Some scholarships are service-based. In exchange for the funds, the organizations want you to volunteer in community projects. In 2015, nearly 25% of college students contributed their time to community groups. Read through your award’s requirements. You may need to perform a set number of hours or work with a specific project.
Don’t look at volunteering as a requirement — instead, consider it a privilege. Without a scholarship, many students wouldn’t be able to give their time to a good cause — but scholarships open new opportunities and allow you to give back to the community. Volunteer work will help you pay it forward, provide you with real-life experience, enhance your communication skills and add to your resume.
7. Communicate Your Successes
What have you learned from your college experience? Perhaps you worked with a community-based project, volunteered abroad or took your school’s soccer league to nationals. The scholarship organization wants to hear what you’ve done. It also wants to see how you’ve grown and developed.
To show your efforts and successes, think about preparing a presentation or writing a reflective paper. Talk about your college experience, what you’ve learned and how the scholarship was able to help you work toward your dreams. Did you face any challenges in the semester? Include obstacles that appeared and how you overcame them.
8. Send a Progress Report
You might not need to write a paper or give a presentation, but most scholarship organizations want periodic reports on your progress. This report will ensure you’re up-to-date on all requirements, whether it’s a standard GPA or class load.
End-of-year updates are a great way to show your sincere appreciation to donors. A report is your opportunity to offer your heartfelt thanks. Donors want confirmation they selected the right candidate for the reward — give it to them.
Hitting the Mark
If you earned a college scholarship, you’re well on your way to graduating debt-free. To get the most out of your award, ensure you read about conditional and renewable requirements, such as community service hours or regular progress reports. Remember, you’re in control of your scholarship and your education. Stay on top of it, and you’ll see more than money for college — you’ll see success.
About the Author
Alyssa Abel is an education writer interested in student life, college and career prep and other topics. Read more of her work on Syllabusy.