University scholarships expire at 160 credits

University scholarships expire at 160 credits

Emily Adair | Editor-in-Chief
January 15, 2015; 12:15 p.m.

Audrey Schroeder was prepared to add a graphic design minor, but found a problem. Her scholarship was about to run out.

Schroeder, who was registering for her eighth semester at Lindenwood University in 2014, found out she could take only one more class before she reached the 160-credit limit on her university scholarship.

“Initially, it just blew my mind that they were going to put a limit on how many classes I could take before I had to pay out of pocket,” she said. “There are students who have to stay five or six years, so I didn’t understand how I could have used my scholarship in four.”

Like many Lindenwood students, Schroeder had forgotten about the course-credit limit on scholarships. University scholarships are awarded for five years or 160 credit hours, whichever comes first.

The limit increased from 128 hours to 160 hours during the 2010-2011 academic year to provide support for students.

Students are made aware of this limit when they receive their financial aid awards and, according to Director of Financial Aid Lori Bode, they agree to it when they sign the Statement of Understanding in the admissions office.

Schroeder acknowledged she learned about the policy when she received her financial aid award but said it wasn’t mentioned to her again until she had only one class remaining before the limit.

“I thought it should be more of a thing to have in the portal where you register for classes, how many more credits you can take before your scholarship runs out,” she said. “Or it would have helped to give me a reminder that I was getting close during any of the prior semesters when I was registering.”

Bode said the Financial Aid Office may not be aware of how many credits each student has received, so it is up to the students to keep track of their standing.

“They should always know where they’re at in terms of credits, eligibility and loans,” Bode said, “but sometimes they don’t know about it until there’s a need to.”

Someone going into his sixth year, she said, might only then realize how long he has been at the university. On the other hand, a student who has been at LU for less than five years may not realize how many credits he has received until he reaches the 160-hour limit.

But this is not the case for creative writing student Kristine Wagner, who has been carefully selecting classes and fields of study as a direct result of the credit limit on her Bright Flight scholarship.

“My sister came here with the same scholarship I did, and she double majored, almost triple majored,” Wagner said. “She exceeded the credit limit and had to pay full tuition her whole last semester, I think.”

After seeing her sister go through this, Wagner said she has been cautious considering which fields she wants to pursue.

“Paying full tuition would be very difficult with my income, and obviously I’m trying to keep my debt at a minimum,” she said.

Wagner started out studying biology, and since switching to English, she realized if she changed again, she may have to pay out of pocket.

“Making that decision was a little stressful because I knew that when I changed, I’d be pretty much stuck there,” she said. “So far, thankfully, I have been able to get in all relevant classes. I’m also working with an advisor who is really great about getting me into the classes I need.”

Although she is concerned about whether she can change fields again, Wagner is currently on track to graduate before her scholarship availability ends.

But for Schroeder, there was no cautionary tale for selecting the most relevant classes during her undergraduate career.

Schroeder was double majoring in web design and film, taking 18 or more credits every semester. She also enrolled for every J-term during her college career, as well as one summer class. She was eager to add a graphic design minor, which would have required only 12 additional credits.

Instead, she had to cancel her plans to study in a new field. What’s more, she had to hurry and apply for graduation before the quickly approaching deadline.

“It definitely changed my plans, and now I don’t know when I will have the chance to go back to school,” Schroeder said.

Other important things to know about the five-year/160-credit availability of university scholarships:

  • Having a right to appeal:
    Students have the right to appeal the policy by writing a letter to Vice President for Enrollment Management Joseph Parisi. The letter should inform Parisi and the appeals committee as to why the student needs to extend his or her academic time and ask for consideration. An email address specifically for financial aid appeals is also in the works.
  • Taking summer classes:
    Summer classes, offered at a discounted rate, do not count toward the 5-year availability, but the credits earned do count toward the 160 credits.
  • Withdrawing from classes:
    At no point during a semester if you withdraw from a class do those credits count toward the credit limit, but withdrawing from a whole semester does count toward the five years, because the grant was already awarded for that term.
  • Being aware:
    Students should regularly check the number of credits they have by logging into the student portal, clicking My Transcript, and selecting the Unofficial Transcript drop-down option. The total number of credits earned is listed at the bottom.
  • Other forms of financial aid:
    The five-year/160-credit limit applies to institutional aid, also called the Lindenwood University Scholarship. Pell or Missouri Access Grants, student loans, athletic scholarships and other forms of financial aid are independent of the Lindenwood Grant and have different limitations.

    (Information provided by Lori Bode and Joseph Parisi)