FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

For additional information or assistance, please contact our staff anytime.

Scholarship Basics

A scholarship is a financial award given to a student to further their 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!
Not at all! While there are quite a few opportunities specific to incoming freshmen – 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 JagSPOT simply by answering the Matching Questions.
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 scholarship listing in JagSPOT to verify actual application deadlines.
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.
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.

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.

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.

Searching & Applying for Scholarships

A great place to start is right here at USA! The university provides students with a comprehensive listing of all scholarship opportunities available. When you are ready, there is a link directly to the scholarship application system, JagSPOT.
Focus on the scholarships you have the best shot at winning. Look for programs and organizations you are affiliated with. Additionally, answering the Matching Questions in JagSPOT will ensure you are being matched to scholarships that most closely fit your profile. Contact the Office of Scholarship Services for additional assistance.
To apply for scholarships here at South you must use JagSPOT. Freshmen students are automatically considered for the Freshman Admission Scholarship, provided they complete the admission process by Dec 1st. But additional opportunities are available!! All current and incoming students should use JagSPOT to fill out their Matching Questions - 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. Additional deadlines vary by scholarship award.
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 JagSPOT and your general scholarship application.

Using JagSPOT

The JagSPOT Login can be found here. Students should use their Jag Number and their JagMail password to login.
Once logged into JagSPOT, students can answer Matching Questions by clicking on the Questions tab on the navigation bar. After the Matching Questions have been answered, students will be shown a list of scholarships they may be eligible to apply for.
JagSPOT will help track and manage your pending and completed applications. Complete submitted applications will appear on your applicant portal in the Submitted status.
Scholarship recipients will receive 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 awarding department will follow-up with additional information directly.

Accepting and Using Scholarships

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. Awards are evenly split between fall and spring semesters unless otherwise noted by the awarding department.
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.
If awarded a scholarship opportunity, you will receive an email from JagSPOT with instructions on how to complete your award terms and conditions. Use the link contained in the email to access your JagSPOT 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.
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.

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

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.

External Scholarships

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.

All scholarship checks should be mailed to:

University of South Alabama
Office of Scholarship Services
Meisler Hall, Suite 1225
390 Student Center 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).

Once the check is processed you will be able to view the external scholarship in your PAWS account.
First, contact the Office of Scholarship Services. Please note, depending on the information provided from the outside agency and what time of the year the check is sent, once received processing times can vary. 
If an external scholarship check is made payable to the student only then the student must endorse the check before it can be processed. If the check is made payable to USA then the student is not required to endorse the check. If there is something that needs to be signed, our Scholarship Coordinator will contact you directly.
Depending on the type of data your donor requires, the form may need to be completed in a variety of ways. Contact the Office of Scholarship Services and we can help you complete this process. Please Note: Some forms may require a FERPA release, signed by the student, or online verification processing.
To conveniently serve students and external donors who require enrollment information, USA is a participant in the National Student Loan Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a repository for enrollment status information and was established to simplify, standardize and automate the status verification and deferment process. For step-by-step instructions on how to use this service, please visit the Office of the Registrar's Degree & Enrollment Verification webpage.