Can colleges take away scholarships?

Can colleges take away scholarships

Obtaining a scholarship is often a significant milestone for students pursuing higher education. Scholarships provide financial assistance and recognition for academic achievements, athletic abilities, or other exceptional talents. However, many students wonder if colleges have the power to take away scholarships once they have been awarded. In this article, we will explore the factors that can lead to the revocation of scholarships, the legal implications, and the steps students can take to protect their scholarships.

Understanding scholarship agreements

Before delving into the circumstances under which colleges can revoke scholarships, it is essential to understand the nature of scholarship agreements. Scholarships are typically awarded based on certain conditions, which are outlined in the scholarship agreement. These conditions may include maintaining a specific GPA, participating in extracurricular activities, or meeting other academic or behavioral requirements.

When students accept a scholarship, they enter into a contractual agreement with the college or university. This agreement specifies the terms and conditions that must be met to retain the scholarship. It is crucial for students to carefully review and understand these terms to avoid any misunderstandings or surprises later on.

Common reasons for scholarship revocation

While scholarship agreements vary from institution to institution, there are several common reasons why colleges may choose to revoke scholarships:

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  • Academic performance: Many scholarships require students to maintain a certain GPA. If a student’s grades fall below the specified threshold, the college may revoke the scholarship.
  • Behavioral issues: Some scholarships have behavioral requirements, such as maintaining a good disciplinary record or adhering to a code of conduct. Violating these requirements can result in the loss of the scholarship.
  • Change in circumstances: In some cases, colleges may revoke scholarships if a student’s financial situation changes significantly. For example, if a student receives a substantial external scholarship or their family’s financial circumstances improve, the college may reduce or eliminate the scholarship.
  • Ineligibility: If a student is found to have provided false information or misrepresented themselves during the scholarship application process, the college may revoke the scholarship.

When colleges revoke scholarships, it can have significant financial and emotional consequences for students. However, it is important to note that colleges have the right to revoke scholarships if the terms and conditions outlined in the scholarship agreement are not met. This is why it is crucial for students to thoroughly understand the requirements and obligations associated with their scholarships.

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That being said, there are legal protections in place to ensure fairness in the scholarship revocation process. Colleges must adhere to their own policies and procedures when revoking scholarships, and they must provide students with a reasonable opportunity to address any issues or concerns before taking such action.

In some cases, students may have the option to appeal the revocation of their scholarships. This typically involves submitting a written appeal explaining the circumstances and providing any supporting documentation. The appeals process varies from institution to institution, so it is important for students to familiarize themselves with their college’s specific procedures.

Case studies and statistics

Examining real-life examples and statistics can provide valuable insights into the prevalence and impact of scholarship revocation:

Case study 1: In 2019, a college in the United States revoked the scholarships of several student-athletes due to academic performance issues. This decision sparked controversy and led to a public debate about the responsibilities of colleges in supporting student-athletes academically.

Case study 2: A study conducted by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) found that approximately 2% of scholarships are revoked each year. The most common reasons for revocation were academic performance and behavioral issues.

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  • According to a survey conducted by Scholarship America, 45% of students who lost their scholarships did so due to academic performance issues.
  • A study published in the Journal of College Student Retention found that students who lost their scholarships were more likely to drop out of college compared to those who retained their scholarships.

Protecting your scholarship

While colleges have the authority to revoke scholarships, there are steps students can take to protect their scholarships:

  • Stay informed: Read and understand the terms and conditions of your scholarship agreement. Be aware of the requirements and obligations you must meet to retain your scholarship.
  • Communicate with your college: If you are facing challenges that may impact your ability to meet the scholarship requirements, reach out to your college’s scholarship office. They may be able to provide guidance or support to help you overcome these challenges.
  • Seek academic support: If you are struggling academically, seek assistance from tutors, professors, or academic advisors. Taking proactive steps to improve your performance can help you maintain your scholarship.
  • Document changes in circumstances: If your financial situation changes significantly, such as the loss of a job or a family emergency, inform your college’s scholarship office and provide any necessary documentation. They may be able to reassess your eligibility or provide additional support.
  • Appeal if necessary: If your scholarship is revoked and you believe there are extenuating circumstances, consider appealing the decision. Follow your college’s appeals process and provide a compelling case supported by evidence.


While colleges have the authority to revoke scholarships, it is essential for students to understand the terms and conditions of their scholarship agreements. Common reasons for scholarship revocation include academic performance issues, behavioral violations, changes in circumstances, and ineligibility. Colleges must adhere to their own policies and procedures when revoking scholarships, and students have the right to appeal such decisions. By staying informed, communicating with their colleges, seeking support when needed, and documenting changes in circumstances, students can take proactive steps to protect their scholarships. Ultimately, maintaining eligibility and meeting the requirements outlined in the scholarship agreement is crucial to retaining scholarships and ensuring continued financial support throughout their college journey.

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