Every year thousands of dollars are spent by a family for the college degree of their child. The students spend hours to find scholarships that will help them to lower the cost. But how will anyone feel if he/she comes to know that billions of dollars go unclaimed each year? There are strong rumors that billions of dollars go waste in unclaimed scholarships every year. Well, this information is outdated and outright false. In reality, the majority of college scholarships are claimed as they get more applicants than they have money.
Why do Scholarships go unclaimed?
There is plenty of financial aid out there for the students, and unclaimed scholarships are not so common. But there are certain things which you can do to increase your chances of laying a hand on that unclaimed money. So let us explore the kinds of funds available, the reasons behind the unclaimed scholarships, and how one can benefit from these.
Are there really unclaimed scholarships?
Some scholarships really go unclaimed, but this is pretty uncommon. Some of the local scholarships might go unclaimed, but the bigger ones usually have winners. The winner might lose the award due to some reason or does not cash it. When such a situation arises, the scholarship committee re-issues that scholarship to some other person.
In the rare instance of some scholarships going unclaimed, these are the possible reasons –
He did not complete an important step in the post-application process.
The committee that is issuing the scholarships can set their own rules about what an applicant is expected to do to earn an award. The procedure may conclude with the application process only, or it requires some effort on the part of the applicant after he/she is chosen. Failure to complete the post-application steps can force an applicant to lose the scholarship.
He must have done something to lose his/her scholarship.
It is the selection committee that decides the reasons for the termination of a scholarship. If the winner of the scholarship does something by which the reputation of the organization is damaged, then the committee may exercise its rights to retract the award.
He chose another school.
Many scholarships are school-specific. If the recipient, however, chooses to go to another school, then he/she will lose eligibility for that particular scholarship. For example, if a student does well on the PSAT, then he will become a National Merit Scholar and thereby become eligible for high-value scholarships throughout the country. A student cannot claim all the awards available to them. He will only become eligible for scholarships that are available at the school he/she chooses.
He lied in his application.
Now, this is a serious offense! If the committee ever finds out that you have blatantly lied in your application, then that scholarship award will get reversed in no time.
Did not meet the set standards for a renewable scholarship
There are many scholarships on offer that are renewable. To keep receiving the benefits of this award, the winner must fulfill all the renewal requirements of the scholarship. If the student is unable to do this, then the issuer of the scholarship will not arrange for additional funding in the next year.
He switched his major
The majority of the available scholarships are based on a specific major. If you are a female student wishing to major in a STEM field, then you become eligible for certain types of awards. While you may make a sudden decision to change your major, this can make you lose your scholarship.
He switched his college.
Many scholarships award students to get a chance in a specific school. This scholarship can be awarded by a private organization or the school itself. If you decide to switch your college, then you will lose that scholarship which your college awarded you.
Can someone lose a scholarship after winning it?
As we have already pointed out, a student can lose a scholarship for multiple reasons, and it is excruciating for the student to lose out on a scholarship when he/she has tried so hard to secure it in the first place. So it is essential to understand the terms and conditions of the award that he/she has won. One must be well versed with the terms so that the student can retain the scholarship.
What happens to unclaimed scholarship money?
The unclaimed scholarship money is usually handled in either of the two ways. The scholarship is generally given to another student, or it can be applied to future awards. The term ‘future award’ might mean a different round of applications. If it is a Pell Grant scholarship, then the money is lodged in the federal aid so that students can use it in the future.
How can you take advantage of the unclaimed scholarships?
The first thing that you need to do is to fill out the FAFSA form as soon as possible. Secondly, you will have to apply to as many scholarships as possible in each semester, and, lest you did not know, you can continue to win scholarships even when you have already enrolled in college. As we said earlier, if the winner of a particular scholarship loses the award at a later stage, then the next recipient is chosen from the first round of applicants, and it can be you!
It may also happen that the scholarship organization has ended up with more available funds than what they initially thought, and this could lead to new scholarship money. So, who knows, you may win one of the new awards.
Lastly, it makes sense to apply those select scholarships for which very few people apply. This can include the local awards or the small value scholarships which we tend to ignore. Some of these scholarships have a very high chance of going unclaimed, as very few people apply for them. The trick is to stay diligent always in your search for the scholarship/financial aid so that you can carry on with your studies in college without the extra burden of a student loan debt.
Other posts you may find useful: