FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

We receive a number of inquiries about the availability of scholarships and the process for consideration and selection. Almost all of these questions are answered in the information provided throughout our site. Some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as some of the more unusual questions, may be found here.
For additional information or assistance, please contact our staff anytime. 

▼   What exactly is a scholarship?
A scholarship is a financial award given to a student to further his or her education. They are based on various criteria, which usually reflects the values and purpose designed by a donor. These are usually determined on the basis of academic achievement or merit, and occasionally may be based on financial need. And the great thing is, most scholarships do not need to be repaid!
▼   Where can I look for scholarship opportunities?
A great place to start is right here at USA! The university provides students with a comprehensive listing of all scholarship opportunities available, via the Office of Scholarship Services' website. When you are ready, there is a link directly to the scholarship application system, Jag$POT.
▼   How should I prioritize my search?
Focus on the scholarships you have the best shot at winning. Look for programs and organizations you are affiliated with. Additionally filling out the General Application in Jag$POT will ensure you are being matched to scholarships that most closely fit your profile.
Contact the Office of Scholarship Services for additional assistance.
▼   Do I have to be a high school student to apply for a scholarship at USA?
Not at all! While there are quite a few opportunities specific to incoming freshman – there are also a whole host of scholarships available to undergraduate, graduate, transfer, and even returning students. You can search the opportunities available on the Office of Scholarship Services' website, or you can be matched to potential opportunities through Jag$POT simply by filling out your General Application.
▼   Typically, what are the deadlines for scholarships?
The deadlines vary by scholarship. Prime months for most scholarship deadlines are January through April, for awards starting the following fall term. But, keep in mind that many scholarships are only awarded once a year, so missing a deadline can mean missing out until the next cycle. Please refer to the specific information for each scholarship to verify actual application deadlines.
▼   How do I apply for scholarships?
To apply for scholarships here at South you must use Jag$POT, USA's Scholarship Program Opportunity Tracker– found on the Office of Scholarship Services' website. Freshmen students are automatically considered for the Presidential Scholarship, provided they complete the admission process by Dec 1st. But additional opportunities are available!! All current and incoming students should use Jag$POT to fill out their General Application - which in turn will help match them to potential scholarship and award opportunities. However, take note, students desiring to be considered for need-based scholarships must complete the FAFSA by March 1. Additional deadlines vary by scholarship award.
▼   Do I need to be a creative writing major to create essays that will be competitive?
No. Often it is more about what you write than how well it is phrased. Whether you follow the instructions and address the essay question is more crucial to your success than how eloquently you can write.
▼   Can I receive more than one scholarship?
Yes, you can! The University of South Alabama has one of the most comprehensive scholarship programs in Alabama and offers many excellent opportunities. However, depending on the type of scholarship, there may be different maximum amounts you are allowed to receive. The policy and instructions for each will be included in the award terms you receive. You can also contact the Office of Scholarship Services for more information.
▼   How will I know if I am the recipient of a USA Scholarship?
Scholarship recipients may be notified of their award in multiple ways. The Office of Scholarship Services will provide the award recipients with an email- sent to their JagMail -- that will include the instructions to complete the award process including the award terms and conditions, the FERPA form, and any other department or award specific requests. Generally the department will follow-up with additional information directly.
▼   How do I access my scholarship funds?
In most cases, students receiving University scholarships will have the award credited to their outstanding tuition and fees due each semester. For most scholarships, any remaining balance can also be used to pay for associated academic costs - such as textbooks through the USA Bookstore, USA Housing and USA Food Service. If the award is refundable, and greater than your institutional charges, the excess funds will be disbursed through the Office of Student Accounting.
▼   Is it worth my time to apply for scholarships?
You bet! Think about it this way. Say for example you spend five hours preparing an application for a scholarship –filling out the application, writing an essay and collecting references. If you win a $250.00 scholarship that would mean you made $50 for each hour you worked. That's a lot more than my part-time job.
▼   Do you have any tips on applying for scholarships?
Yes. The Office of Scholarship Services provides information, as well as tips and resources, on successful scholarship applications. The site also provides opportunity lists and external scholarship resources. But the most important tip is to complete your general application – which you can access through Jag$POT. You won't know what opportunities are available until you do.
▼   How do I receive scholarship consideration?
Students can apply for all institutional scholarships, including freshman scholarships, general scholarships, and departmental scholarships, by completing their student profile within Jag$POT. Students are only required to complete the application once each academic year. By completing your general application, you will be matched with additional scholarship opportunities. Some scholarships will provide an auto-apply option, using your general scholarship application, but most will require supplemental application information. Be sure to review these requirements closely, as well as any applicable deadline dates.
Please contact the Office of Scholarship Services with any additional questions or concerns.
▼   Do I have to be admitted in order to complete the scholarship application?
Yes. Once admitted to the University, you will be provided with your Jag Number (student ID) and your JagMail information. You will use your Jag Number and JagMail password to access Jag$POT and your general scholarship application.
▼   How do I log into JagSPOT?
The Jag$POT Login can be found on the Office of Scholarship Services' website. Students should use their Jag Number and their JagMail password to login.
▼   Which questions should I complete?
In addition to completing the General Application required fields, students are encouraged to also complete the supplemental questions associated with additional scholarship opportunities they are eligible for.
▼   Can I update my scholarship application once I have completed it?
Yes, you can log back into your applicant portal at any time, prior to the scholarship deadline date, to make adjustments. Remember if you are changing a Reference, make those changes early enough to allow them time to complete your letter of recommendation prior to the deadline.
▼   What are 'Recommended Opportunities'?
Once accepted to USA, students are matched to various scholarship opportunities based upon their General Application and the specific criteria of the scholarships themselves. 'Recommended Opportunities' are scholarships that closely match the students profile and may require supplemental information from the student. Students are encouraged to review the suggested list of 'Recommended Opportunities' within their Jag$POT applicant portal and provide any information requested to receive further consideration.
▼   What is the difference between merit-based scholarships and need-based scholarships?
Merit-based scholarships do not require a student to submit the FAFSA or other documentation demonstrating financial need. Need-based scholarships typically require that a student has financial need as determined by the FAFSA application.
▼   How do I receive confirmation of my application submissions?
Jag$POT will help track and manage your pending and completed applications. Complete submitted applications will appear on your applicant portal in an Active status.
▼   When do I have to accept or decline my scholarship offer?
For departmental scholarship opportunities the acceptance date is based on the application close date. This will vary by department and you will be given that final date within your notification email.
For incoming freshman and transfer students you will have 30 days from the date of your notification to accept a scholarship offer.
▼   How do I accept a scholarship?
If chosen as the recipient of a scholarship opportunity, you will receive an email from Jag$POT with instructions on how to complete your award terms and conditions. Use the link contained in the email to access your Jag$POT applicant portal, and your scholarship award opportunities. Follow the steps to complete the award terms and conditions, as well as any additional financial aid information, departmental requirements, and your FERPA release form.
▼   How does my enrollment status effect my institutional aid and scholarships?

Your initial award is based on full-time enrollment. Census occurs at the end of the day on the last day to drop/add courses for the semester (typically the Friday of the first week of classes). Your aid will not disburse at less than full-time status and your enrollment will be evaluated for aid purposes at that time.  

If eligible, exceptions for Institutional Scholarships can be completed in JagSPOT. For other scholarships and awards, distributed through the colleges, schools, and programs, please contact the Office of Scholarship Services directly.  

Additional courses registered for after the census date will not be taken into consideration with regard to your scholarship and aid eligibility.

▼   What effect will outside scholarships have on my financial aid package?
If you have earned any outside scholarship funds, you are required to notify the Office of Financial Aid so the information can be used in calculating your award package. If your current scholarship opportunities have met 100 percent of your demonstrated need and subsequently you receive an outside scholarship, one or more of your financial aid sources may need to be adjusted. Loan assistance is adjusted first, wherever possible.
Please contact the Office of Financial Aid for more information about aid adjustments.
▼   Where should the private donor of my scholarship send the award check?
All scholarship checks should be mailed to:
University of South Alabama
Office of Scholarship Services
Meisler Hall, Suite 1225
390 Alumni Circle
Mobile, AL 36688
The donor must include the student's name and Jag Number (Student ID) on the check or on attached documentation. Donors should specify what semester(s) and aid year the check should be applied to in addition to minimum enrollment hours for disbursement (full-time, half-time, less than half-time).
▼   I am graduating after the fall semester. Can I receive the full amount of my scholarship in the fall?
No. If you complete your first undergraduate degree prior to your maximum award terms, you are only eligible to receive the one semester award for the term in which you graduate.
▼   If I receive a scholarship, how is the money awarded?
Scholarships are posted to students' accounts and are disbursed at the start of each semester. Awards are evenly split between fall and spring semesters unless otherwise noted by the awarding department.
▼   Where can I find a list of all available scholarships?
Click here to view all scholarship opportunities.
▼   How do I write a thank you letter?

Scholarship donors unselfishly give to support the educational endeavors of students like you. They typically ask for nothing in return, but receiving a well written thank you letter from a student is always special and lets the donor know that his or her scholarship was greatly appreciated. Your letter reminds them why they gave in the first place and often help secure continuing gifts for future students.
Writing a Well Written Letter

Make sure the letter is free of both grammatical and spelling errors.

Thank You Letter Tips:

Write clearly and concisely
Double-check for typos and grammatical errors
Express enthusiasm
Be sincere
Send it typewritten in business format
Use quality paper

You were awarded a scholarship because your personal qualities and academic abilities stood above all other applicants. Sending a typed thank you letter confirms that this scholarship was important enough to you to take the time to present yourself in a professional manner.

▼   Why do the scholarship payments have to run through Financial Aid and/or post through Student Accounting?
Scholarship funds, as defined by IRS Publication 970, must be "qualified educational expenses". These are clearly defined by the IRS as:
Tuition and fees required to be enrolled at an eligible institution
Course-related expenses, such as books, supplies, and equipment for a course
▼   What expenses do not qualify as scholarship eligible expenses?
Per IRS guidelines (Publication 970) the following expenses do not qualify as educational expenses (under scholarship tax defined guidelines):
-Travel
-Research
-Clerical Help
-Equipment and other expenses that are not required for enrollment in or attendance at an eligible educational institution.
▼   What is a "first dollar" scholarship?
A first dollar scholarship is one that is applied only towards tuition, fees, and books- per the guidelines of the 'Qualified Education Expenses' under the IRS Qualified Tuition Program.