Can A Scholarship Expire?


Flickr user Bronte Mazzone

When applying for a scholarship (or after you’ve been awarded one), it’s important to understand how their specific terms and how they work. One question you might be asking yourself is “Can they expire?” Here’s what you need to know about expiration dates and your scholarship:

Can They Expire?

Some students who win scholarships wonder if the award will still be there if they decide to take a year or two off to travel, work, volunteer, or relax before beginning their college career. Sadly, most scholarships will expire during this time frame. They are often considered “use it or lose it” and must be used during that particular award year. Many times if the student has not enrolled in classes during those 12 months, it expires.

In almost all cases, scholarships are put directly towards your college’s tuition and expenses, rather than a check sent to you. If you choose not to go to school, it will not be put in a savings account for later use. However, every scholarship is different, so it’s important to speak to the program or school that is awarding the money first. Your scholarship may be one of the few that can be used at a later date or there may be other options regarding the award available to you.

Maximum Awards

In some cases, scholarships will also reach an expiration date depending on maximum award limitations. These can be based on the maximum monetary amount or credit hours. A good example of limitations regarding credit hours is the Hope Scholarship from the University of Georgia. Once a student has taken 127 credit hours, the scholarship can no longer be used. Some other awards will expire after four years.

Reapply and Renew

If you do decide to take the year off for something other than school, remember you may always have the option of reapplying. This includes the original scholarship and others that may be available to you even if you’re no longer in high school. If you choose to volunteer during your time off, you may qualify for different awards so it’s important to check with your intended college as well as scholarship boards found online.

However, when you do accept a scholarship and use it towards your college tuition, remember that you may have the option to renew it every year. Keep in mind though that an accepted renewal may depend on your academic standing, GPA, and more. Many of these will also expire after four years of use. Read the terms of your scholarship to see if you can renew it every fall.

While you may want to take a year off between high school and college, it may be beneficial to weigh your options if you have received a scholarship for your freshman year. In the end, it might be worth it to enter college right away, rather than waiting. Contact both your intended school and the scholarship program to see what paths are available if you do decide to take the year off.

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