Yep. Scholarships can be taken away. And it happens more often than people know. There are several reasons this can happen.:
*. The one you are likely familiar with is when your teen doesn't live up to their end of the bargain. There are always "strings attached" to the merit scholarship offered by the college, especially when it is recurring for 8 semesters, such as maintaining a minimum GPA and passing a minimum number of credit hours each semester. So read the details carefully when that award letter arrives. But also know the "what if" scenario. (I'll save that for another note.)
But THAT is the easy one. You know it. (Or should.) And hopefully, you will see it coming before the hammer falls, maybe even in time to do something about it.
There are other reasons why your teen can lose scholarships, and many come before they step foot in their first college class.
Several possible scenarios can trigger the possible loss of scholarship or financial need-based dollars. (If you've been with me for a while, you already know that "need" doesn't necessarily meet your definition of "low-income".) What are the possibilities?
*. The college your teen chose does not "stack" scholarships. Stacking scholarships is allowing your teen to bring in additional external/private scholarships that "stack" on top of the financial award the college offers.
*. The college your teen chose limits the amount of scholarship dollars your teen can bring in from outside sources. If the college has a limit, any time your teen brings in additional scholarship money that exceeds the limit, the college will either displace the award the college offered with the scholarship or will return the scholarship to the awarding organization. Either way, you didn't get the extra cash.
I have a college client who transferred to College B prior to joining me, without knowing College B limits scholarships to tuition and fees. The teen was awarded a scholarship to take with him upon leaving College A. He was also awarded an additional private scholarship. College B, the "transferred to" college, sent a letter explaining the student had "exceeded his limit". College B allowed "up to the limit" and then returned the remaining scholarship dollars to the awarding organizations. (The student and his family had hoped the additional scholarships would cover room and board. Not at this school.)
*. Your teen was offered need-based awards such as subsidized student loans, work-study, and/or a discount based on your family income and assets. In almost every case, when additional external/private scholarships are earned, the school will "displace" some part of their need-based award with the scholarship the teen earned, dollar for dollar. The reasoning is that the new scholarship adds to the income and assets, thus the teen's need isn't as great.
A parent who had been on my email list for two years wrote to ask, "My son is about to start his first year of college. He was awarded a local scholarship of $3000. But we just received a letter from his college that because of his local scholarship, his work-study was being withdrawn. We were counting on that. Is there any way we can get it back?"
Nope. Not this year.
*. Any of the above may also be the case depending on if the college is considered a "need-aware" college or a "need-blind" college.
Some families will get these notices while their teen is still a high school senior, has accepted their college, and is receiving private scholarships during high school. Others won't know of it until the first semester that the college payment is due, and see the unexpectedly larger amount due. 😳
This is just one of the many "I didn't know that" items that have a tendency to "bite a family in the rear" financially.
I agree that it shouldn't be this complicated. But the fact is that it is. That's why I started Cracking the Code to Free College, to mentor parents through the process from as early as middle school. It takes the stress and anxiety off of the family.
Is every family a good fit for Cracking the Code to Free College? No. I prefer to have a conversation with the family before acceptance. If it's not a good fit, I'll let you know.
Families that win, don't wait. They jump into the program with both feet immediately. It's exciting to see their progress as they go through the program and get things done.
Let's get on a call and see if this is a good fit for your family.