Do Scholarships Expire?

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Scholarships are free money gifted to a student to support their educational expenses which are governed by a set of criteria that outline how the money can be used - keeping in mind that they are not by any means permanent prizes. Most scholarships, like many types of financial aid, have an impending expiration date. Every scholarship provider has its own terms and conditions which they expect winners to abide by.

Depending on the rules, scholarship winners often have to use the funds by a certain timeline, or the money will be forfeited. While some scholarships renew their funds for four years, others do not. Most scholarship prizes can only fund college tuition for one year, and expire after that use.

For example, if you receive a scholarship that covers all your finances for your freshman year of college there is no guarantee that it will be rewarded for your consecutive years as well. In these cases, students are encouraged to reapply if eligible. You should speak with your scholarship provider about the circumstances surrounding your scholarship and your potential re-application.

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Even an athletic scholarship will expire after each school year. A common misconception is that athletes are guaranteed their scholarships for the entire duration of their undergraduate program. Sadly, this is not true. Although there is a possibility for the scholarship to be renewed, every student-athlete is still required to reapply every year, and they me even be inclined to find scholarships outside of their athletic one.

Since the money from outside scholarships is sent to the institution instead of the student directly, providers might have an expectation of what the school year should look like.

If the money is intended for a specific school year it is expected to be spent during that time frame. To maintain these college scholarships, it is in a student's best interest to ensure that they can sustain fulfilling the eligibility requirements.

Do scholarships expire

Every scholarship is different, so it is always best to communicate with the organization or donor beforehand to limit any confusion on how a scholarship can be used and if there's a deadline to use the money. It might also be that your scholarship can be used for a longer timeline! Scholarship providers are there to help you succeed, so if you need more time to forge your collegiate path they might be willing to meet you in the middle and extend your deadline!

Finally, there are all different kinds of scholarships available to all different types of students, from community college freshmen to final year grad students. There is no limit to how many scholarships you can apply for, so even though scholarships expire, you can certainly still find scholarships to meet your financial need.

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Can You Lose Your Scholarships?

In order to apply for most scholarships, students must first qualify for them. Students can also be expected to continue to meet these qualifications even after receiving the scholarship or else their money could be at stake.

Providers offering these opportunities want to see that their dollars are contributing to the future of someone who works hard in their pursuit of education. If they feel that certain preset requirements are not met, they have every right to take that prize away.

In your search, you will find that scholarships do not come in uniform. While some scholarships share similarities, most scholarships have their own individual criteria for students to follow. Always read the rules of the scholarship so you know what you must do to remain eligible.

Do scholarships expire

Merit Scholarships

Academic scholarships are evaluated based on a student's performance throughout their classes. This includes student grades, grade point average (GPA), and test scores. Consequently, these scholarships usually require that students sustain a certain GPA and good grades at their institutions to maintain their eligibility while receiving scholarship funding.

Athletic Scholarships

Student-athletes are usually offered athletics-based scholarships by their schools to incentivize playing for their specific college or university. However, losing an athletic scholarship is a devastating truth many student-athletes know all too well. Depending on the school, if a student is injured, not performing well in classes, or is in terrible standing, their scholarship can be revoked.

In this way, a student's performance both academically and athletically is important. Depending on the provider, a student who fails to meet requirements might be given a warning or a grace period to work on becoming eligible again before their funding is revoked.

Private Scholarships

Scholarships offered through a private institution can only be applied for a specific program. When debating between universities, know that should you choose to attend somewhere else that scholarship money will be lost and the offer may not be replicated at another school. However, it is possible to leverage your financial aid package at one school to get your school of preference to improve your offered aid.

Government Awards

Students who apply for financial aid through government organizations such as the FAFSA are also required to renew their applications yearly. This includes a renewal for any Pell Grant that a student may have received. Depending on the information present, their aid amount usually fluctuates every academic year.

Other Scholarships

Other organizations may be limited in their requirements for students to attend certain career programs, complete a certain number of hours of community service, follow a specific timeline, etc. The possibilities are endless as every scholarship is different.

Make sure to be vigilant for this information in the application process to be better prepared for when you enroll in your respective university.

Although there is a capability to lose a scholarship, it does not mean that you necessarily will. Remember that different circumstances happen to everyone and if you feel nervous just communicate with the scholarship provider for clarity or negotiation. Oftentimes, they will be willing to help you!

To ensure that you have sufficient scholarship funds to fuel your entire collegiate career, begin applying today at our scholarship page.

Do scholarships expire

Do You Lose Scholarships If You Take a Year Off?

Many college students will decide to take a year off sometime during their educational journey. Whether that is to travel, work, or because of other external circumstances, students may put their scholarship money at risk when doing so.

Upon winning a scholarship, students agree to use the money in a way that conforms to the organization's policies. In most cases, scholarships are granted annually so students are required to use them for that upcoming academic year or risk losing them completely.

Again, scholarships vary in their expectations. Some scholarships, such as those offered on, can be deferred until your return while others will force you to apply again. If you were awarded the scholarship the first time, there is a strong chance you can win it again!

Regardless, this is not to discourage you from taking a year off if that is what is best for you. Plan ahead and communicate with the organization providing the scholarship to see if there is any way they can help. If not, scholarships are always there and you can always apply again!

In many cases, your provider will be willing to work with you so that you remain eligible, though flexibility isn't guaranteed. Scholarship providers such as are dedicated to helping students access college, meaning that they will often go easy on recipients so that they can use all of their funding.

What Happens to Scholarship Money You Don't Use?

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as having an overflow of scholarship money! As mentioned, scholarship policies differ amongst each provider. It is always best to communicate with your specific organization(s) to see where the funds can be allocated.

Sometimes, the money will be given back to you to pay for school merchandise, textbooks, school travel, or other educational expenses not billed by the university. In this case, the money can be applied to other necessities in addition to tuition. It's important to note that if you receive a scholarship refund directly, you may have to claim it as income when filing your taxes. Depending on the scholarship, students could also have the option to use the leftover money for future semesters or graduate programs.

In other cases, the money may be given to another student who might need additional assistance. These decisions are entirely contingent on the award, so always inquire before assuming!

Do Scholarships Cover All Four Years?

College can be expensive and while some scholarships overlap, each is unique in its timeline, gift aid amount, and required qualifications.

Some scholarships can be renewed every year. They vary in award amount, but total prize money is gifted to students annually instead of all at once which can significantly help lower tuition each year.

Although they are the rarest and most competitive scholarships, there are also full-ride scholarships that cover all four years of college. Students can rely on these or apply for many smaller scholarships to cover their educational expenses.

Here are some exclusive full-tuition scholarships for students to apply to!

How Long Does My Scholarship Last?

The expiration date of a scholarship varies. For some, the money is only awarded once while others can be renewed yearly.

Speak to your financial aid office and see which category your scholarship falls under. Always keep a look out for this information during the application process to help you plan better. Establishing an understanding of how much aid you will need beforehand will make adjusting to college much easier. Regardless of the type of scholarship you receive, communicate with your donor to ensure you're informed of any deadlines that may be associated with your award.

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