losing a scholarship

Losing a Scholarship: Can a Scholarship Be Taken Away?


In a word, yes.

Now, don’t freak out. Most scholarships don’t just appear and disappear from your bank account like some kind of fleeting sense of happiness in a capitalist society. For the most part, there are fair and obvious reasons why you’re losing your money if this happens to you. This article will cover the most common reasons for losing a scholarship and how to keep that from happening.

How Can You Lose Your Money?

The most important thing to do when you get a scholarship is to read and study whatever information you can find. Understand how you could lose it. Don’t just take it and forget about it, or worse—spend it. If you’re not sure how it could be lost, then you’re not working to hold onto it. You should always look at your own scholarships specifically. 

In general, here are the most common reasons for losing a scholarship:

1) Grades

Most academic scholarships come with some kind of grade-average stipulation. As in, if your marks aren’t this high, you can’t ride anymore. Depending on how easy high school was for you, and how difficult the program you’re going into is, this could be no big deal or a real challenge. If your teachers were tough but fair in high school, you might not be surprised by the jump in difficulty in your program. On the other hand, if your teachers went soft on you or if your program is incredibly hard, it might be tough to hold on to your scholarship. Here at SLN, we have lots of content on productivity, stress, and keeping your grades up. We’re here to help.

TL;DR: If your grades slip too low, you’ll probably lose your scholarship. Do what you can to keep them up!

2) Behaviour

We’ve all seen High School, or perhaps for the younger generation, Project X. No matter what movies you’ve seen, Hollywood presents post-secondary education as one long session of sex, drugs, and music. While this can be true for some individuals, they aren’t usually the ones with fantastic grades. At least, not at the level most scholarships demand. Even if you’re sure that you can be a wild one on weekends and a studious star during the week, you have to be careful.

Scholarships either have specific or vague stipulations about the discipline, behaviour, or general social media presence of their students. As in, if they don’t like how you’re behaving on campus or how you’re presenting yourself on social media, they can take your money away. You might be surprised by how easy losing a scholarship can be. Again, it’s on you to read the contract and make sure you understand exactly how and why they could decide to take your money away.

TL;DR: Don’t be a public embarrassment because whoever sponsored you might not want that association. It’s probably best not to document your hedonism on the internet anyways…

3) Changing Your Major or School

Once again, you have to read things carefully. Is your scholarship for students who study History or students who major in History? There’s a big difference. Thankfully, this problem should be pretty easy to avoid. If you received a scholarship for a specific school, program, or major, then stay put to keep the money.

If you end up hating your program or school, it can be tough to see that money disappear, but you have to do what you think is best.

TL;DR: Understand exactly who your scholarship is for and don’t stop being that person unless you want to lose that money.

4) How You Spend the Money

You might think that scholarships are just money given to you to use however you want. You might be right, in which case, awesome for you! However, you might be wrong, so be careful and read the whole contract. You don’t want to lose $9k for spending $1k on booze. Many scholarships want to make sure that the money they give you is going directly to your education. To accomplish this, they can limit your spending to things like books, tuition, etc.

TL;DR: Don’t blow your scholarship money on things that aren’t related to school.

5) What Sort of Student are You?

I don’t mean whether or not you’re a teacher’s pet. Some people go to school “full-time” while others attend “part-time”. Specific programs or schools might have other specific designations as well. The important thing here is to know what your scholarship expects of you. It might make sense for you to be a part-time student in second-year due to a job opportunity, but if that isn’t approved, then you could end up losing a scholarship.

TL;DR: Read the fine print before you make any big decisions.

6) Did You Have it in the First Place?

This one might sound weird, but the easiest way of losing a scholarship is to never actually have it. The money isn’t yours until the contract is offered, signed, and the money is put into your hot little hands. You might have received an email, a verbal offer, a phone call, whatever, but it doesn’t count yet.

This can be especially confusing in the sporting world when a coach or scout approaches you in person and makes a verbal offer. It might be tempting to celebrate, but you should definitely wait for the paperwork. Verbal offers are not legally binding in this case. They are not something to throw around haphazardly, as in, you should take them seriously. However, the money isn’t yours yet. Don’t forget that. Do whatever you need to do to follow up and make sure you get that contract.

TL;DR: If you didn’t sign a contract and receive the money, it isn’t yours yet.

7) How Long is the Scholarship Good For?

For some reason, (probably movies again) people think that “getting a scholarship” means that their entire education is covered. As I mentioned above, there are many reasons for losing a scholarship before you finish your education. More importantly, there’s a very simple reason why you might “lose” your scholarship in second-year: it wasn’t available in the first place. Make sure you know exactly what is being offered, for how long and how frequently. Many scholarships only apply to the first year. So, if you’re counting on that money for the next three years, you need to reevaluate.

Similarly, understand when you’re getting the money. A $10K scholarship could be all $10K at once, or it could be $2.5K each year, or more likely, $2.5K each year if you maintain a certain GPA. Don’t expect it all at once if that’s not what they promised you.

TL;DR: Read the contract to understand when the money will be given to you.