Scholarship Success

Great news! You are a finalist and have been invited for an interview.

Remember, the underlying question is almost always, why? Why do 'you' deserve this scholarship? The selection committee has spent a great deal of time deciding that you deserve to be one of a handful of candidates, one of whom will represent them, for that is what the awarding of the scholarship means. This is the time for the applicant to be able to verbally articulate the 'natural' match between the scholarship's aims and his or her own qualities and life direction.

Also, don't assume a scholarship is tax-free money. If a scholarship counts as income, you'll need to pay taxes. For example, if the award is to be put toward travel, room and board and/or equipment, you'll be taxed. If the award pays for full-time tuition, books and supplies needed to fulfill academic requirements, you will not be taxed. Any questions? Call the IRS 1-800-829-1040, or check out their web site.

Finally, once the euphoria has subsided, you should ask some important questions. Is it renewable or a one-time award only? What happens if you deviate from the criteria that was fundamental in securing this scholarship: Being put on academic probation? What if you were awarded a scholarship by a university department in organic chemistry but discover that their true love is quantum physics?

Just like acceptance into a school can be retracted, a scholarship can be retracted if a student fails to live up to the conditions specified at the start of the application process. Among the most common factors: minimum GPA, completion of education requirements in a specified period of time, a requirement that the recipient attend classes "full time," restrictions on vacations/time off, field of study, choice of college, community service, sports and so forth. Be sure that you carefully read over the requirements to gain a better understanding of what the scholarship requires of them.