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    How Do Renewable Scholarships Work?

    By Cait Williams

    Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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    Reviewed by Bill Jack

    Bill Jack has over a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. Since 2008, he has worked at Colby College, Wesleyan University, University of Maine at Farmington, and Bates College.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: June 4th, 2024
    How Do Renewable Scholarships Work?

    Finding enough scholarships to cover one year of college is hard enough, let alone multiple years. Wouldn’t it be great if scholarships could last the whole time you were getting your education? Well luckily for you, they do exist! They’re called “renewable scholarships,” and this article will answer all your questions about them. Let’s go!

    What does “renewable” mean? 

    Renewable scholarships mean just what you think, they’re renewable! For most undergraduate scholarships, they will be renewable for four years. So, a $1,000 renewable scholarship is actually worth $4,000! While every scholarship that you’re eligible for is worth applying for, you should especially prioritize applying to renewable scholarships!

    Tip from a renewable scholarship winner

    Renewable scholarship dollars add up and make a real difference when funding your education. I was awarded both the $10,000 James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship ($2,500 per year) and the $4,000 Elks MVP award ($1,000 per year). I ultimately earned a total of $14,000 to put towards my college education!

    Brian Geiger | Scholarships360 co-founder, Recipient of the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship and ELKs MVP Scholarship

    Below are several questions that should help you better understand how renewable scholarships work. Keep in mind though that because each scholarship will have its own guidelines, the answers to some of these questions might vary. 

    Do you have to reapply for renewable scholarships? 

    This will vary based on the specific guidelines of the scholarship you receive. If you receive a renewable scholarship through your college or university, you will likely not need to worry about reapplying. However, renewable scholarships that are from a private organization may have different guidelines that require you to prove you are still eligible for their scholarship each year. 

    Try today: Scholarships360’s free custom-matched scholarship search tool

    How many times can you renew a renewable scholarship?

    How many times you can renew a scholarship is something typically specified when you apply to or receive the scholarship. As an undergraduate student, you will likely come across scholarships that are renewable for up to four years. Graduate students may be able to renew scholarships for multiple years or until they have completed their graduate degree. Again, there is no standard for every scholarship, it is up to the individual scholarship provider to determine how many years students can renew the scholarship. 

    How do you know if a scholarship is renewable? 

    Most scholarships will specify when you apply for them whether they are renewable or not. However, just because a particular scholarship does not specify whether it’s renewable doesn’t necessarily mean that it is not. It might just mean that you need to read the fine print or inquire with the scholarship sponsor directly. Not all scholarships are renewable, but it’s always worth asking! 

    Also see: Top scholarships for high school seniors

    Can you lose a renewable scholarship?

    The short answer is yes, you can lose renewable scholarships. Renewable scholarships usually require students to maintain a certain GPA and/or be enrolled in a certain major. If a specific organization is providing you with the scholarship, you may be required to attend meetings or be a member of the organization. 

    Are renewable scholarships more competitive? 

    Because renewable scholarships are usually worth more money over time, they can be more competitive. However, all the same rules apply to them as do regular scholarships. Put your best foot forward by submitting all materials that you are asked for. Take time on your application and demonstrate how you will utilize this scholarship to accomplish your goals! 

    Related: The ultimate guide to finding and winning scholarships

    Do you have to pay back renewable scholarships if you no longer qualify for them? 

    Unfortunately, there’s no 100% definitive answer to this question. If you no longer qualify for a renewable scholarship, you will lose that scholarship, but that does not necessarily mean you need to pay it back. Scholarships don’t work like loans as they are grants to and usually do not require repayment. 

    Also see: Do you have to pay back scholarships if you drop out?

    Do colleges and universities offer renewable scholarships? 

    Yes, colleges and universities do offer renewable scholarships! Colleges and universities usually have a page on their website that lays out exactly what scholarships they offer. Often you will be automatically considered for these when you submit an application, however, that does not apply to all schools, so be proactive!

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • Every renewable scholarship that you apply for is unique, which means you should carefully understand what each requires for renewal
    • Remember that renewable scholarships are worth more than what they might look like at face value; for example, a $500 four year renewable scholarship is really worth $2,000!
    • If something about your status changes and makes you ineligible for a scholarship that you are currently receiving, make sure you notify the right people so that they can assess the situation 
    • You likely don’t have all the time in the world to be applying to scholarships, which means you should prioritize applying to renewable scholarships

    Frequently asked questions about renewable scholarships

    What does it mean if a scholarship is not renewable?

    If a scholarship is not renewable, it will be awarded to you only one time. Some scholarships may allow you to reapply the following year but will not automatically consider you as an applicant until you do. Other scholarships though, do not allow you to reapply and will only be awarded to you once.

    What is the lowest GPA to get a scholarship?

    It all depends on the rules of the scholarship you are applying to. There is no one number that you must earn, though having a higher or average GPA will likely open up more opportunities for scholarships. Carefully check the requirements of each scholarship you want to apply to before spending time and energy on an application.

    What is the easiest type of scholarship to get?

    How easy or hard a scholarship is to get is hard to measure. Some scholarships require extensive applications. For others, you’re automatically considered for because you applied to a certain school. Other scholarships may require just a short essay. The idea when you apply for a scholarship should not be how easy it will be to get. When applying for scholarships, you should consider the benefits in relation to the amount of time and energy you would be putting into them. A $5,000 scholarship is certainly worth a more extensive application! That’s especially true if it’s renewable!

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