Scholarships can be won but did you know they can be lost? There’s no such thing as a free lunch and this applies to scholarship and grant awards, too. So-called college free money comes with strings attached. When broken, the money either isn’t sent or must be paid back. It’s essential for families to prepare themselves to avoid a nasty financial surprise. Here are four ways to prevent losing scholarships and grants:
Know the strings. Students should carefully read the eligibility requirements for directions when they win. Some awards have strings requiring the winning applicant to do something next like promoting the scholarship or writing a thank you note by a particular deadline before a check is sent. Thanking the sponsor is a good idea even when not required.
Keep the strings intact. Students should know what they must do to keep the grant or scholarship after it’s awarded. The free money may be tied to maintaining a minimum GPA (grade point average), keeping a major, playing an instrument in the band, or being on a sports team. Students must commit to the strings and be sure they have the time and passion to maintain them.
Use the money correctly. The free money may be designated for certain educational expenses only like tuition. Be careful not to spend it on specified non-qualifying costs like food and travel. This may be turn that portion into taxable income according to an article in Huff Post Financial Education.
Buy some time. Things can go south that cut the scholarship and grant strings like injuries and changing interests. The grant or scholarship may have an appeal process or offer a brief extension to give the student a chance to regain compliance.
Don’t bank on free money without knowing and being prepared to follow the strings attached. It’s also a good idea to keep searching and applying. Read the posts under College Costs on my blog for Scholarship Mom Alerts filled with scholarships and important info.
Read Suzanne’s post: Scholarships with Strings Attached
Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!
The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound.
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