High Academic Performance = More Financial Aid

In Paying for College on Jul 07, 2016

Scholarship and financial aid providers take multiple considerations into account before presenting students with financial awards. Some considerations include students’ GPA and/or test scores. Academic performance can either negatively or positively impact a student’s financial aid.

It’s no secret that high test scores and a GPA can score you more scholarships and financial aid. According to Cappex’s Mark Kantrowitz, students with at least a 3.5 GPA are twice as likely to win private scholarships as students with lower grades. And nearly 80 percent of colleges and universities will award merit-based grants to students with outstanding test scores. There are some merit-based programs, such as the National Merit Scholarship, which uses academic performance as a main selection criterion.

On the flip side, poor grades or test scores may cost you financial aid – even that which has already been awarded to you. Most renewable scholarships will require that scholarship recipients maintain a minimum GPA in order to keep the scholarship. Students may lose out on their financial due to low academic performance as well.

Kantrowitz says: “The student must be making “Satisfactory Academic Progress” or SAP, or the financial aid can be suspended or revoked. SAP involves maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA (C average) on a 4.0 scale, as well as taking and passing courses in a manner that is consistent with graduating within 150 percent of the normal timeframe.”

But if financial aid becomes suspended due to low grades, students have two routes they may take. They may work to improve their grades and wait for financial aid to be reinstated. Some institutions may require students maintain their newly improved GPA before reinstating financial aid. If grades are slipping due to outside circumstances such as illness or death in the family, a student may appeal for a temporary waiver of the satisfactory academic progress roles. Students with these extenuating circumstances must submit an appeal that outlines these circumstances, and what they will be changing to allow their grades to improve. Colleges may waive the rules if they accept these circumstances.

Whether grades are an issue or not, it is always a good idea to familiarize yourself with your school’s satisfactory academic progress policy – every school is required to have one. And if slipping grades or poor test scores ever threaten your financial aid, be sure to reach out to a professor or tutor for help!

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