How To Avoid Behaviors That Could Lose Your Study Abroad Scholarship

Earning a scholarship to help fund your dream study abroad program is an amazing accomplishment. Scholarships make international study accessible for countless students each year.

However, scholarships come with important responsibilities. Failing to meet scholarship requirements or engaging in prohibited behaviors could result in your scholarship being revoked. Losing funding can jeopardize your ability to study abroad or leave you scrambling to cover thousands in unexpected costs.

In this blog post, we’ll explore mistakes students commonly make that risk their study abroad scholarships and steps you can take to avoid scholarship cancellation. We’ll also provide tips on how to appeal and restore cancelled awards due to extenuating circumstances.

10 Behaviors That Could Lose Your Study Abroad Scholarship & How to Avoid Them

1. Failing to Maintain the Minimum Required GPA

Most scholarships for study abroad require recipients to uphold a minimum GPA, usually between 2.5-3.5. This ensures students remain focused on academics abroad.

Failing to maintain your GPA, even if by a small margin, constitutes grounds for a revoked scholarship in most cases. Some reasons this happens include:

  • Not working hard enough in your classes abroad due to travel and socializing
  • Enrolling in courses significantly harder than your usual workload
  • Underestimating the demands of school in a foreign language

To avoid this outcome:

  • Take a balanced courseload matching your abilities
  • Check in with on-site advisors if struggling in courses
  • Proactively utilize academic support resources like tutoring and writing centers
  • Talk with your home university to explain special circumstances if needed

With some discipline and self-awareness, you can maintain your GPA abroad and not risk scholarship cancellation.

2. Drastic Changes to Study Abroad Plans

Scholarship awards are based on the specific study abroad program, location, and duration outlined in your application. Making drastic changes to those plans can violate your scholarship terms.

For example:

  • Switching countries or cities within a country
  • Shortening your program from a year to a semester
  • Canceling a program entirely to defer study abroad

In some cases, scholarships may allow minor location or date shifts with advance approval. But major unilateral changes often lead to revoked funding.

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Avoid issues by:

  • Only applying for scholarships aligned with your firmly set study abroad plans
  • Giving ample notice and seeking written approval before modifying program details
  • Having backup plans if deferral is truly unavoidable
  • Re-applying for scholarships matched to your new study abroad timeline if needed

With flexibility and proper communication, minor program tweaks can be accommodated.

3. Failing to Submit Required Post-Acceptance Materials

After being selected for a scholarship, recipients must usually provide additional items like:

  • Official pre-departure transcripts
  • Proof of visa/travel documentation
  • Signed agreements about scholarship terms
  • Program acceptance letters
  • Flight itineraries

Failure to submit required documents by specified deadlines often means loss of funding. Missing items adds administrative hassle for funders.

Ensure you:

  • Carefully review award notification for next steps
  • Mark your calendar with post-acceptance deadlines
  • Promptly gather and submit requested items
  • Follow-up if items may be delayed

Meeting post-award requirements demonstrates your commitment to studying abroad.

4. Not Using the Funding for Its Intended Purpose

Scholarship providers entrust recipients to use the monetary awards for approved expenses directly related to study abroad. These include:

  • Tuition and university fees
  • Official program room and board
  • Airfare
  • Required books/supplies
  • Limited daily living costs

Spending funds on unauthorized purposes like vacations, technology, entertainment or unrelated expenses may require repayment or scholarship termination.

Safeguard your award by:

  • Clearly understanding approved and unapproved uses of funds
  • Keeping receipts and documentation of academic expenses
  • Spending wisely and avoiding frivolous purchases
  • Saving award for essential abroad costs first and foremost

With proper budgeting, your scholarship money can sufficiently support your study abroad goals.

5. Failure to Comply with Legal and Academic Standards Abroad

Scholarship providers expect recipients to meet basic legal and ethical requirements during their funded study abroad program. Recipients who engage in prohibited activities risk serious consequences. These may include:

  • Academic misconduct: Cheating, plagiarism or other breaches of academic integrity standards
  • Legal violations: Arrests, offenses or failure to comply with visa regulations
  • Risky behaviors: Drug or alcohol abuse, unauthorized travel, offensive conduct
  • Code of conduct breaches: Violating policies on harassment, discrimination, vandalism or other serious infractions
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Scholarship organizers cannot ignore recipients’ unlawful, unethical or dangerous behaviors just because they occur abroad. Awards may be terminated immediately for significant incidents.

Uphold your scholarship by:

  • Knowing and abiding by all laws and policies in your host country
  • Avoiding risky situations and “bad company”
  • Being judicious in your personal conduct
  • Acting as an honorable representative of your scholarship provider and home country

With maturity and personal responsibility, you can avoid turmoil that puts your scholarship and study abroad opportunity at risk.

6. Failing to Complete Post-Program Requirements

Many study abroad scholarships have post-program requirements recipients must fulfill in order to officially “earn” their full award amounts. These often include:

  • Submitting a program summary and photos
  • Writing reflective essays synthesizing the experience
  • Giving presentations to other students
  • Completing language proficiency assessments
  • Providing post-experience transcripts

Overlooking these important wrap-up tasks may mean only receiving partial scholarship funds in the end or total cancellation for non-compliance.

Avoid this misstep by:

  • Before departing, identifying all post-program obligations and deadlines
  • Completing robust photos, essays and presentations demonstrating your growth and knowledge gained
  • Promptly sending final transcripts and other materials upon return
  • Expressing gratitude to funders for enabling your international journey

Fulfilling post-program requirements allows funders to showcase your success and progress thanks to scholarship support.

7. Not Enrolling Full-Time in Your Program

Most scholarships require recipients to maintain full-time student status with a minimum number of credits during their study abroad program (usually 12+ credits per semester). Dropping below full-time enrollment without advance approval can lead to scholarship cancellation. This may happen if you:

  • Struggle with a difficult foreign language and reduce courseload
  • Enroll in fewer classes to allow more time for traveling
  • Drop courses due to failing grades or inability to keep up

To avoid issues:

  • Carefully manage your courseload and don’t overcommit
  • Seek tutoring and academic support if struggling in courses
  • Discuss options with advisors before dropping below required credits

Maintaining full-time status ensures you focus on academics abroad.

8. Employment Abroad Beyond Allowed Limits

Some scholarships prohibit or strictly limit employment and earning income while abroad, as recipients are expected to be focused on full-time study. Exceptions may be made for specific cases with advance permission. If you disregard the rules and limits on working, your scholarship could be at risk.

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To avoid problems:

  • Understand if and how much you may work during your program
  • Refrain from unauthorized employment or working excessive hours
  • Consider alternatives like student loans if you really need added income

Abide by employment terms so funders see studying as your priority.

9. Insufficient Communications with Scholarship Providers

Most scholarships require periodic check-ins while abroad plus prompt responses if contacted by program sponsors. Failure to maintain expected communication demonstrates a lack of commitment. Key tips:

  • Save contacts of all scholarship points of contact
  • Meet interim report and update requirements
  • Reply in a timely manner to any inquiries
  • Provide warning of major changes that arise

Consistent contact reassures funders their investment in you is worthwhile.

Appealing a Revoked Scholarship

If your scholarship is cancelled, appealing the decision promptly and professionally may help get it reinstated in some cases.

Important tips include:

  • Carefully reviewing award terms to understand grounds for termination
  • Drafting a formal appeal letter explaining the circumstances and how you aim to rectify them
  • Providing supporting documents like doctor’s notes if health issues contributed
  • Expressing your commitment to studying abroad and remorse for any errors
  • Working with program staff to demonstrate you are back on track

With a thoughtful appeal communicating maturation and personal accountability, some scholarship providers may overturn the initial cancellation – especially for first-time offenses.


While losing your hard-earned study abroad scholarship is a worst-case scenario, being aware of common pitfalls can help you avoid this outcome through diligent compliance. With focus, integrity and responsibility, your scholarship facilitates an enriching international adventure rather than becoming a source of stress.

By learning from other students’ mistakes, fulfilling all requirements, budgeting wisely, avoiding risky behaviors, and embracing the purpose of your award, you can make the most of your scholarship support to gain life-changing experiences – and a world of growth –through study abroad.

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