Although you might have imagined it differently, college life tends to have some rather dramatic ups and downs. Sometimes things go great; sometimes they don't. When you have major, unexpected financial changes during your time in school, for example, the rest of your college experience can be affected. Losing part of your financial aid can, in fact, be a bit of a crisis. Knowing what to do if you lose a scholarship -- and enacting a plan of action -- can be critical in making sure that a bad situation doesn't turn into a devastating one.
Step 1: Make Sure You Lost It for Legitimate Reasons
If your scholarship depending on your being a biology major but you've decided to switch to English, losing your scholarship is probably justified. Not all situations are so clear-cut, however. If your scholarship is contingent on your maintaining a certain GPA, and you believe you have maintained that GPA, make sure that everyone has accurate information before you panic. The people awarding your scholarship may not have received the paperwork they needed in time or your transcript could have an error in it. Losing a scholarship is a big deal. Before you start putting the effort in to remedy your situation, make sure you're really in the situation you think are.
Step 2: Figure out How Much Money You No Longer Have Access To
You may not be completely clear on how much your scholarship was worth. Say you have a $500 scholarship from a non-profit back in your hometown. Is that $500/year? A semester? A quarter? Get the details on what you've lost so that you can know just how much you'll need to replace.
Step 3: Make Sure Your Other Monies Aren't Also in Jeopardy
If you've lost eligibility for one scholarship because of your academic performance or because you're on disciplinary probation, your other scholarships might be in jeopardy, too. It can't hurt to make sure that the rest of your financial aid is secure, especially before talking to someone in the financial aid office (see the next step). You don't want to have to keep going in for appointments every time you realize something you should have known about already. If you've changed majors, had a bad academic performance, or otherwise had something happen (or have done something) that can negatively affect your financial aid and scholarships, make sure you're clear on the entire picture.
Step 4: Make an Appointment With the Financial Aid Office
You won't have a clear picture of how losing your scholarship has an impact on your financial aid package unless you meet with a financial aid staff member and go over the details. It's okay to not know what will happen during the meeting, but you should be prepared to know why you lost the scholarship, how much it was worth, and how much you'll need to replace it. Your financial aid officer can help you identify additional resources as well as possibly revise your overall package. Be ready to explain why you are no longer eligible for the scholarship money and what you plan on doing to try to make the deficit up. And be open to any and all suggestions the financial aid staff has for helping you make that happen.
Step Five: Hustle
Although it can happen, it's unlikely that the money will magically be fully replaced by your financial aid office -- which means that it's up to you to find other sources. Ask your financial aid office about scholarship resources they recommend, and get to work. Look online; look in your hometown community; look on campus; look in your religious, political, and other communities; look anywhere you need to. Although it seems like a lot of work to find a replacement scholarship, whatever effort you put forth now will definitely be less work than it will take for you to drop out of college and try to return at a later date. Prioritize yourself and your education. Put your smart brain to work and do everything and anything you need to in an effort to invest in yourself and your degree. Will it be hard? Yes. But it -- and you -- are worth it.