5 ways you can lose a scholarship and how to get it back

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Scholarships are a great way to pay for your education. Though it takes a lot of work to apply to them, they can be a beneficial tool to help you complete school without having to take out a mountain of student loans. 

However, the work doesn’t stop at applying for scholarships. After you’re awarded the money, you’re typically held to specific academic and personal standards. Not holding up your end of the agreement could result in the loss of the scholarship.

If you think you might be heading down that path, here’s what you need to know. 

Bad academic performance

Are you struggling to keep your grades up? A low GPA is a surefire way to lose your scholarship, especially if it’s one that has strict GPA requirements or was merit-based, to begin with. 

When you accept money for a scholarship, make sure you fully understand the academic stands you’ll be held to. The last thing you want is to depend on money that doesn’t come through because your GPA dipped a point or two too low. 

Not meeting credit requirements

We’ve all been there — wanting to drop classes that we’re not doing well in or just don’t feel like we can handle this semester. Some scholarships, however, come with minimum credit requirements that you need to ensure you meet. 

Most scholarships expect you to be a full-time student that exceeds academic expectations. Before dropping any classes, make sure you understand the number of credits you’re expected to be enrolled in to keep your scholarship.

Switching Majors

If you got your scholarship based on your major, there’s a high chance you could lose that money if you decide to switch majors down the line.

There’s nothing wrong with switching majors. In fact, it happens more often than you think. But when a scholarship is involved, you might not be able to take that money with you. It’s one aspect of making the switch that you’ll need to consider. 

Going to another college

If you decide to transfer schools and have an institutional-based scholarship, you likely lose that money when you get to your new school. 

While there is always the option that you could be considered for a scholarship at your new school, you should assume that extra money will not transfer with you. 

Getting in trouble

Many organizations and institutions that give out scholarships expect students to behave in a certain way. That means not getting in trouble with the law or at school. Whether it’s substance abuse or plagiarism, you should know that any bad decision you make while on the scholarship can revoke access to those funds in the future. 

When an organization awards you a scholarship, you’re a reflection of their standards and ethics. If you don’t live up to those standards, there’s a good chance they’ll take away the scholarship. 

We all know that getting a scholarship typically takes a lot of hard work — keeping it is just as hard. Once you have the money in hand, that doesn’t mean you can slack off or do whatever you want. If you’re dependent on scholarship money to help you get through school, make sure you’re aware of all the requirements, so you don’t lose that money. 


If you do end up losing your scholarship for any of the reasons above, there might be a chance you can get it back.

File an Appeal

If it’s a school-based scholarship, there may be a chance you can file for an appeal. To do so, you’ll need to contact the financial aid office and ask them about the process. Be sure to inquire about any deadlines, contact information, and documents they might need.

Apologize and have a plan

An apology can go a long way when it comes to making a mistake. Owning up to what you did, whether it was bad grades or a bad decision, and having a plan for how you’re going to make it right can help you get back in the good graces of the scholarship organization. 

If you were not able to keep up your academic progress because of a personal or family issue, you can explain the situation and provide documentation. You may be able to get your scholarship back if you can prove you faced certain hardships. It’s worth speaking to the organization to see what their appeal process is. 

Talk to your financial aid office

There’s a chance that your scholarship will not be reinstated. Unfortunately, that means you’ll need to find other means to help you pay for college. If that’s the case, talk to your financial aid office to see if there’s anything they can do to help you. They may be able to recommend additional scholarships you can look into or suggest you file an aid appeal to get more federal aid towards your education. 

A scholarship takes work, even after you already have it. To ensure you don’t risk losing money to help you pay for college, know what is required of you, and do your best to stick to it.