How to Survive College without a Scholarship

by Oscar Soria

            One of the most common student questions when they are in college is how they will successfully manage their economic finances and a lot of online guides or even academic counselors will help them, however little is said about how to manage them when they suddenly lose their scholarships.

            Each year lots of students lose their primary form of income, the Pell Grant, and frustrated end up having to pay their own courses or even leave school because of this. The main reasons why students lose the grant is because they do not approve the 70% of the credits enrolled at the start of the semester or their GPA drops below 2.00 both of these as written in the online page of the Financial Aid Department of the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez are enough to get the Pell Grant cancelled.

            Given this information and a few suggestions in an interview on Dec. 7, 2013 with two UPRM students, Angel Robles and David Repollet, who lost their grants this year, a list containing helpful information for students with the same problem is created.

Appeal your Case

Most people that get their grants cancelled don’t know this, but you can appeal your case if you have a valid explanation. “My aunt was really sick last year, she was going through a surgical process because of cancer, so I could not focus on my studies it was a grim year” said Robles on why he lost his Pell Grant.

These kinds of explanations are the kind of reasons you can give to the appealing committee so that they may consider your case worthy and give your scholarship back again. “Given this option it is noteworthy to say that it takes time for the committee to answer so you should prepare for paying the tuition fee until it arrives” advised Repollet.


Waiting can be hard, but it is often rewarding

Take fewer credits per semester

This is one of those suggestions some people are reluctant to follow through, fewer credits means more years studying and longer to graduate, but it also means less tuition fee per semester. It might be a little longer but the weight is not that heavy when you need to pay.

            Create a Budget

Most people with or without grants already do this, but it is really important to plan out how money is going to be directed, be it monthly or weekly. Robles with a smile said “this was the hardest part, I used to go out and buy something at McDonalds, but the abrupt change made me reevaluate what was truly important and $10.00 three times a week is a real pain.”

Stop wasting money unnecessarily

It is no secret that Puerto Ricans are big consumers and when given the opportunity (or money) a person tends to waste it in things that they don’t actually need. “I’m a big gamer and things like new video game specials get to me and I end up buying lots of them, I learned that if you can manage without it, then you don’t need it.” Both Repollet and Robles laughed and agreed.

            It is highly recommended that you stick to your budget plan, wasting 5 dollars here and there can hurt in the long run.

            Look for a part time job

                        This might be the first idea you think of when faced with this trouble and it can help you get on track with tuition payments and help you on tight budget situations. Many restaurants or super markets are hiring every now and then should you come in agreement to an agreement even  a flexible work schedule might be arranged.

                        Something really good about some colleges is their study-work programs where you help out in the library or filing papers in one of the many administrative branches of the institution with a work schedule modified by your registered classes.

            Get a roommate

                        This one might bother some people because they value their privacy, but this is a really cost-effective idea that anyone might be able to pull off. “Just on apartment fees I used to let go $300.00 a month, but a friend of mine was interested in moving and I suggested he come live with me. Now we just pay half and I have room to breathe economically” described Repollet.

                        Although some places require their landlord permission this is usually what some people do. Ask close friends and if they agree you can divide the fees.


Some apartments come with everything included for a cheap price

Save on transportation

Some people live close to college, if you’re one of these people you can save a few bucks by walking or riding a bike, some people even travel using skateboards. If you’re someone who lives far away you might consider carpooling, this saves money on gas and helps the environment.

Look for other scholarships

If the reason your Pell Grant was cancelled was due to not completing the amount of credits required and you have the GPA you can apply to other scholarships. Some don’t even need a GPA, but instead requires you to belong to a certain ethnicity group or just write an essay.

            Use your student status to your advantage

The student discount can be used to your advantage almost anywhere from the local bookstore to some clothing stores. Take your student ID everywhere and ask if they have any special deals for students. This option can be a lifesaver sometimes.

            Take a student loan

A student loan can be very helpful if you can’t manage the tuition fee yourself and should be used as a last resource. These are not very popular because having debt since being a student is going to be a tough time later on, but student loans get less charges later on so it is wise to keep them in mind.

            Students following these guidelines might find themselves surviving college economically more prepared “It was something I never expected and a plan and some lifestyle changes made it possible for me to pay college until the appeal process was over” said Robles with a calm face. “Planning ahead can keep people steady if done correctly.”





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