"Keeping The Scholarship Dollars That You Win"
It would be nice if once the scholarship checks were written you could run off for that well-deserved trip to the Bahamas, but alas there are restrictions on how you can spend the cash and how to maintain your scholarship. Besides, everyone knows that Hawaii is the place to go.
Here are some tips to insure that you keep the money you win year after year:
Get to know your scholarship and financial aid administrators. This duo will be able to answer questions about your award, make sure that you are spending it the way you should, and offer advice on how to maximize the benefits of it.
Give them proof if they want it. Some awards require that you provide proof of enrollment or transcripts. Send it to them.
Be aware of your award’s requirements and what happens if something changes. How long does the award last? What happens if you take a leave of absence, study part-time, study abroad, transfer schools, or quit your studies? College is full of possibilities! Do you have to maintain a minimum grade point average or take courses in a certain field?
Know if there are special requirements for athletic scholarships. If you’ve won an athletic scholarship, you are most likely required to play. (You didn’t get that full ride scholarship for nothing!) Understand the implications of what would happen if you were not able to play because of circumstances such as an injury or not meeting academic requirements.
Find out if the award is a cash cow (renewable). If an award is renewable, you are eligible to extend it. Some renewable awards can be extended to cover the length of your entire education. If the award is renewable, find out what you need to do and when you need to do it to renew. Some awards just require a copy of your transcript while others require you to submit an entirely new application.
Understand restrictions for spending the dough. Some awards are limited to tuition only. Others can be used for books, travel, or even living expenses. Some provide the money directly to your school while others provide a check made out to you. Make sure you understand what you can spend it on and what records you need to keep.
Learn the tax implications of your award. Speak with the award administrator or your pals at the IRS (www.irs.gov or 800-829-1040).
Be aware of requirements after you graduate. Some awards such as ROTC scholarships require employment after graduation. Because these arrangements can drastically affect your future, learn about the requirements now.
Keep the awarding organization up to date on your progress. Write the organization a thank you note, and keep them updated on your progress at the end of the year. This is not only good manners, but it will help insure that the award is around in the future.
By doing a few simple things you can make sure that you get to keep the money you’ve worked so hard to win.
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