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What happens to unclaimed merit scholarships?

Leigh22Leigh22 Registered User Posts: 379 Member
So say a school gives out 50 scholarships of the same amount each year that is automatically renewed each year. If some potential students who receive this scholarship do not attend the school, do the scholarships get offered to other potential students or not? Just curious.

Replies to: What happens to unclaimed merit scholarships?

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 74,412 Senior Member
    It depends. @Leigh22

    Sometimes that scholarship money goes back into the school scholarship fund account.

    Sometimes it is awarded later to other students.

    Most colleges have a good sense on their yield, and they have a decent sense ofnthe %age of students who will accept their matriculation offer...and the awards.
  • GreymeerGreymeer Registered User Posts: 581 Member
    Some "scholarships" presidents and deans are just tuition discounts for high stats. No money actually changes hands. If they are unclaimed, they are not reoffered to others.
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 1,099 Senior Member
    edited February 3
    Depends on the school. Some schools have a certain number of scholarships to give out (for example many cohort based programs where the students have some classes together), often based on their agreement with donors to fund X per year, and therefore have alternates who are in a waitlist if the original recipients drop out (typically you find out that you got off the waitlist on or close to May 1, but you'd know about being an alternate before that). Usually these are named, interview-based scholarships (Belk, Park, Stamps, etc).

    Other schools don't expect very many to attend because they will typically have better options and allow for that in the number of offers they make (for example the majority of Regents scholars at the lower ranking UCs will also be admitted to UCB/UCLA and choose one of those two instead, IIRC something like 90% turn down Regents at UCSB).
  • lkg4answerslkg4answers Registered User Posts: 1,152 Senior Member
    @Twoin18 that is an interesting stat (about 90% turning down UCSB). UCSB Regents is $6000/year which is 3x the amount of money that UCLA, UCSD and UCB give ($2000/year). You would think that more than 10% would take advantage of that financial incentive.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 20,603 Senior Member
    And they'd get to live in Santa Barbara!
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 1,099 Senior Member
    @lkg4answers UCSB don't publish those stats, but it seems to be in that range (90%+ turning it down) since they say Regents is offered to the top 2% of the 30K admitted freshmen (http://admissions.sa.ucsb.edu/docs/default-source/PDFs/regents-scholars-program-2018.pdf?sfvrsn=52) so that would mean ~600 offers and in 2008 there were only 30 new Regents scholars in the freshman class (https://www.noozhawk.com/article/072108_ucsb_selects_35_regents_scholars). Remember over 80% turn down their UCSB offers, and you'd expect that % to be even higher amongst the best qualified admits. My D18 turned it down and we know some others who did the same, but I've never come across someone who accepted a UCSB Regents scholarship.
  • shuffle1shuffle1 Registered User Posts: 57 Junior Member
    Think of it as your basic endowment vs operations income problem: you have lots of money in your endowment, but you can't spend it on the school's operations by the rules of the endowment. How do you get that money so it can be used to hire teachers, build dorms, and keep the lights on? Give it away in the form of scholarships to students, who then turn around and give it right back to you as income into your operational budget! You're laundering the funds through the students and everyone is happy - you can correctly tell the scholarship funders that they are funding worthy students, tell the worthy students they deserve merit aid, and pay the cafeteria staff. What you need to do, then, is balance your scholarship offers to target the amount of the endowment funds that you need to flow into your operating budget for the year while abiding by the allowed percentage of the endowment fund that can be disbursed in any year. Nondistributed funds due to students going elsewhere stay in the endowment and hopefully grow larger for next year (when tuition will be higher); if time allows and the budget calls for it, those unused scholarship dollars might be offered to others at the discretion of the school. This is a great oversimplification but it's a pretty good outline.
  • one+twoone+two Registered User Posts: 46 Junior Member
    edited February 5
    Anecdotal story -- my son was invited to and attended a scholarship weekend at a small private liberal arts college for a particular large named scholarship. They said they awarded a set number. In mid-March he was notified he wasn't selected to receive one of the scholarships. On April 28th the admissions officer called to say they had "extra money" to fund additional number of the named scholarship and were offering one to him. We had a brief discussion about how someone else probably turned it down and he was second choice before he gratefully accepted it. He would not have been attending the school without it and had already paid deposit at large state university which we forfeited.

    I hesitate to post about this because I think it's probably rare.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 31,201 Senior Member
    It depends on a lot of things, from how kelsmom does it to the wording of any endowment. Today, there's often a line added to donor documents, in effect that, if the college can't award a grant, they have discretion. So I agree there's no universal answer.
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 1,099 Senior Member
    I don't think it's rare to have a waitlist for named full ride scholarships with X per year given out. Sometimes they will even tell you your position on the waitlist, but you don't know how many are going to turn it down. We found out on May 1 last year, fortunately the decision to attend had already been made, so it was just a nice bonus.
  • missbwith2boysmissbwith2boys Registered User Posts: 558 Member
    Another anecdote- my son interviewed for a large scholarship (full tuition plus most of housing costs) and ended up getting a full tuition scholarship only. His letter stated he was a runner up. After May 1, they called him and offered him the larger scholarship. It seemed clear that someone had turned down the opportunity. I agree that it’s probably rare.
  • flatKansasflatKansas Registered User Posts: 570 Member
    My D was initially awarded a modest renewable scholarship from our state school, and we were pretty excited to receive even that much. Sometime in the summer she was switched to a mostly full tuition one. We always assumed that it was a trickle-down situation.
  • WFU#2023WFU#2023 Registered User Posts: 21 Junior Member
    Good to know that's a possibility! Thanks!
  • kelsmomkelsmom Registered User Posts: 15,323 Senior Member
    We actually will have some scholarships this year that WILL get re-awarded if someone turns theirs down. It's the first time we have that sort of award. I really hope that even if someone ends up getting it late enough that they realize they weren't the first choice, they won't care ... it's full tuition, so I am hoping they'll just be glad to have it!
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