When it comes to finances in college, scholarships can relieve a major burden from student’s shoulders. After all, without scholarships, many students wouldn’t be able to attend college to begin with, and even just a few hundred dollars can make a world of difference. As a result, many students are constantly searching for and applying to scholarships, but can easily become frustrated and confused by the entire process and everything they are required to do.
Because of this, scholarships is a topic that I’ve covered several times in the past. Not only have I discussed where to find scholarships, how to stay organized throughout the application process by using a scholarship binder, and how to streamline the application process by creating a scholarship application portfolio, but I’ve also walked students through how to apply to scholarships the right way.
Everything learned in these posts ultimately culminate into this one: what to do after you win a scholarship.
Believe it or not, accepting a college scholarship can have a process as big as it’s application, and depending on the scholarship there may be a few different things that you need to do after you win. This list will cover some of the common steps you will need to take.
1) Officially Accept the Scholarship
Once you receive the notification informing you that you have been accepted to receive the scholarship, the first and foremost step is to *officially* accept the scholarship.
This step is extremely important, so it’s not one you want to forget about or accidentally look over in the notification, as they could then pass over you and award it to the runner-up.
Oftentimes, officially accepting a scholarship comes with scholarships presented by a specific college. For example, let’s say you apply to 5 colleges and they all offer you a scholarship. You would need to officially accept the scholarship of the college you decide to attend, and then deny the scholarships from the other colleges, as those scholarships were only applicable had you decided to attend their schools. This then allows them to offer the scholarship to another student who may decide to go there.
However, the need to officially accept a scholarship isn’t always associated a particular college; it can also be associated with independent scholarships/scholarship organizations that require you to go to a specific college/state for college.
For example, I was once offered a $6,000 scholarship from an independent organization (not a college). However, in order to receive the scholarship I would need to attend a specific college. Since I had decided not to attend the college I had originally applied to it for, I had to notify them that I would not be accepting the scholarship, which then allowed them to offer it to someone else.
On the flip-side, I have been offered other scholarships that required me to attend school in a specific state. Since I would be attending college in the specified state, I was able to officially accept the scholarship through email.
When it comes to accepting scholarships, there will often be a deadline that you must respond by. There may also be various methods to officially accept the scholarship. It can be as simple as emailing them, or you may have to fill out a form or sign a paper. Additionally, if a scholarship is being offered by a college, you may need to go through their financial aid website to view/accept/decline the award.
2) Confirm College and Disbursement Information
The 2nd step after you win a scholarship is to confirm your college and payment information with the benefactor(s). This step mostly regards external organizations, whom will either write the check directly to you, or to the school.
If the benefactor is writing the check directly to the school, they may ask for information such as which college you have decided to attend, it’s address, your student i.d. number, or a copy of your student bill.
Additionally, they may request proof that you are enrolling in college, especially if they are writing the scholarship check directly to you. Although they may specify their preference of proof of enrollment, common items include an acceptance letter, an enrollment statement (which can be obtained through the bursar’s office), or your class schedule.
3) Follow Additional Scholarship Acceptance Requirements
Besides officially accepting the scholarship and confirming your college and disbursement information, there may be other requirements you must follow after you win a scholarship.
These requirements vary from scholarship to scholarship. Some may ask that you attend a scholarship luncheon, especially if it’s being facilitated by a local group. Others may require that you turn in a copy of your student grades from the current semester to show that you are maintaining a high GPA (if that was one of the scholarship requirements). I’ve also seen some scholarships require their recipients to volunteer at a local non-profit or within the college itself for a set amount of hours during the following semester/year. The additional scholarship acceptance requirements (if any) will vary from scholarship to scholarship, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.
4) Thank The Benefactor for the Scholarship
There’s no doubt that scholarship benefactor worked hard to raise the scholarship funds, organize the competition, and sort through dozens, hundreds, or even thousands(!) of applications to find their scholarship recipient. After all of that hard work, they chose you. The benefactors believe in you and wants to help you succeed. After all, that’s why they offered the scholarship in the first place!
That’s why you should never let them think that their help has gone unappreciated. After being declared the scholarship recipient, write them a thank-you letter telling them how much receiving the scholarship means to you and how it will help you achieve your goals. You can even send them a photo of you on the campus or with your acceptance letter to show your appreciation.
5) Report any External Scholarships to Your College
Once you have officially accepted a scholarship, you will need to report it to your college’s financial aid office, as adjustments to your financial aid package may need to be made.
Although it may vary from college-to-college, some typical ways of reporting a scholarship include a paper form, an online form, etc. How to do it and what information you need to submit can be found on your school’s financial aid office website. If not, just give them a call and they can direct you to the correct place!
These are the 5 steps you’ll need to follow after you win a scholarship, all of which are extremely important. Although it may seem like a lot, it is nothing compared to the benefits that the scholarship will bring you throughout the school year and beyond. As you work on applying for scholarships, be sure to check out my post on Where to Find Scholarships, How to Apply to Scholarships (the right way), How to Organize Your Scholarship Binder, and How to Create a Scholarship Application Portfolio!