How to Keep a Scholarship for Online College: What You Need to Know

scholarships for online colleges

Why Scholarship Renewal Requirements Matter

Beyond asking what are the requirements for a scholarship, you should also ask if it’s renewable. Many college students fail to understand what the scholarship entails fully. Some assume that their scholarship is a one-time thing, only to realize later that they could have benefited from continued support if they had met the renewal criteria.

Renewable scholarships provide recipients with a binding contract. It’s a piece of paper where the provider outlines the terms and conditions of the scholarship. It’s important to read and fully understand the content of the contract and not just the scholarships requirements.

Key elements of scholarship contracts include:

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  • the parties involved
  • the awarded amount
  • the scholarship’s purpose, academic or other requirements
  • its duration and renewal terms
  • consequences for failing to meet terms
  • signatures of agreement from both parties

The sole purpose of providers enforcing criteria for renewal is to ensure that the recipient’s educational performance is up to par. This assures the provider that they’re not getting scammed or that their investing money is being utilized effectively.

Criteria for renewal benefit not only the provider but also the recipient.

The top impact of renewable scholarships to students is financial stability. These scholarships spare students the burden of looking for new financing sources every year. Such scholarships also boost students’ confidence as their efforts are continuously recognized and rewarded.

Ultimately, renewable scholarships keep students inspired and motivated to continue their momentum. Students who uphold high academic standards and actively engage in the scholarship program cultivate a feeling of duty and accountability for their academic pursuits.

Another commonly asked question is how many times can you renew a renewable scholarship? Renewal duration varies depending on the scholarship provider’s policies. The answer will be specified when you apply for or receive the scholarship.

Moreover, some renewable scholarships need students to reapply. This is especially common in scholarships from private organizations.

Common Renewal Requirements for Online College Scholarships

Specific renewal criteria will vastly depend on several factors. It’s important to read the contract thoroughly. Here are the most common requirements. 

Maintaining the Minimum GPA

The GPA, or Grade Point Average, is an initial indication of a student’s academic performance. It’s often the first thing admissions officers assess when applying for colleges.

What GPA do you need for a full scholarship? It depends. However, a 3.75 GPA, on average, will significantly increase your chances of acquiring one. Applications for renewable scholarships are very competitive, so you need to have the highest possible GPA to stand out.

Is 3.75 still the common GPA in renewable scholarships? The answer is no. The majority of renewable scholarships require recipients to maintain at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 GPA scale. In some cases, even a 2.5 is enough.

But if the criteria demands a high GPA, here are some strategies you should consider to maintain or improve your academic performance:

  1. Attend classes regularly
  2. Stay organized
  3. Ask your instructor for help
  4. Find a tutor for free through the college’s student success center
  5. Attend campus workshops

Completing the Minimum Number of Credits

The minimum credits for scholarship renewal vary as well. The most common required minimum credits per year to keep scholarships is typically around 12 to 15 credit hours per semester.

College is stressful enough as it is, so imagine the added pressure when you need to adhere to the minimum number of credits for a scholarship. This is where applying course management strategies becomes crucial to keep online education scholarships.

Take the time to plan and stay organized—and we don’t mean just your studies. Being hyper-focused on your studies will only lead to burnout which can hinder your ability to perform well. A balancing act includes time for self-care, socialization, family, and work.

You must prioritize the quality of your work and learning experience over simply completing many tasks or courses. Some students have tendencies to go above and beyond the minimum criteria.

Here are a few tips on how to manage your course load to avoid burnout:

  1. Reading the content before the professor teaches it.
  2. Dedicate a certain amount of time each week to each of your classes.
  3. Create a to-do list.
  4. Schedule at least a one-hour break every four hours of class to rest your brain.
  5. Take time out to implement self-care strategies.

While striving for excellence is important, it’s also essential to recognize your limits and maintain a healthy balance. If you can’t handle your courses effectively, your grades might drop, and you’ll risk losing your chances of applying for other scholarships for online degrees.

Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

Scholarships for online schooling often require recipients to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) to retain their eligibility. SAP monitors the progress of each student receiving financial aid.

The standards include:

  • Minimum GPA: 2.0 (undergrad) and 3.0 (grad)
  • A 66.6% or greater pace of completion of cumulative credit hours attempted each semester
  • Completed degree within 150% of required credits

SAP ensures that students are meeting all of their educational requirements. It also indicates whether the student is on target to graduate on time with either a degree or certificate.

Students who don’t meet SAP standards are ineligible for further financial aid, even online college scholarships, from the institution and the government.

However, they can request an SAP appeal due to extenuating circumstances.

  1. Students should complete the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form online or on paper.
  2. The appeal should outline the reasons for the student’s academic performance issues and detail the changes they’ve made to ensure future academic success.

If a student can restore their cumulative GPA and achieve a cumulative completion rate of 66.6% within one semester of enrollment, an appeal may be approved without requiring an academic plan. However, students who cannot regain financial aid eligibility after one semester on appeal must follow an academic plan to continue receiving aid. Each semester, they must maintain a GPA of 2.5 (undergrad) or 3.2 (grad) and a completion rate of 75% or higher.

Participation in Specific Programs or Activities

Several scholarships for online students focus not only on academic performance but also on involvement in specific programs or activities. These could be taking on leadership responsibilities, volunteering in the community, joining groups or clubs relevant to their subject of study, or working on research initiatives.

These types of scholarships for online college are referred to as scholarships with a special focus.

Tips for Maintaining Your Scholarship

Applying for and securing renewable scholarships is often more complicated than maintaining them. Why? When you’re just applying for a scholarship, you have a lot of competition. But once you’ve secured the scholarship, your only competition is yourself.

Here are effective strategies for maintaining online degree scholarships:

  1. Fulfill the academic requirements stipulated by your funder and university.
  2. Be a part of study groups, social outings, club activities, and other daily engagements.
  3. Help organize events on behalf of your funder.
  4. Seek mentorship to continue improving.
  5. Keep track of deadlines, requirements, and any commitments associated with your scholarship.

What to Do If You Fall Short of Renewal Requirements

There’s no overstating how hard higher learning is. Sleepless nights, competition, self-doubt, and unexpected challenges are all part of the journey. It’s common for an online scholarship to fall short of the renewal requirements.

If you ever find yourself dealing with this situation, here’s a guide on what to do:

  1. Withdraw from low/failing classes. While this method is effective, it may only work for students who have dealt with a medical issue.
  2. If you’re not approved for withdrawal, ask for a course incomplete from your instructor. You can also ask for a Pass/Fail mark.
  3. If your SAP is low, you can appeal.
  4. Contact the financial aid office. Explain your situation and concerns.
  5. Look for supplemental scholarships.


Pursuing and maintaining a scholarship for online college takes commitment and dedication. To ensure you don’t lose the scholarship, you should thoroughly read, understand, and follow the scholarship guidelines.

Although renewal requirements vary greatly, maintaining a high GPA, participating in campus activities, and engaging in community service will greatly enhance your chances of maintaining academic scholarships.