Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Question Topics

Claiming Your Awards

How long did I have to claim my award? And how long do I have to withdraw it?

You had until the five-year anniversary of the June 30th following the date of the qualifying exam to claim your award. For example, all 2000 unclaimed awards expired on June 30, 2005, all 2001 unclaimed awards expired on June 30, 2006, and all 2002 unclaimed awards expired on June 30, 2007. If you claimed your award, you have until your 30th birthday to withdraw your scholarship(s), plus applicable earnings to pay for qualified higher education expenses. Any portion of an award not withdrawn by your 30th birthday is forfeited to the State of California.

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Your Scholarship Account

Since California is the owner of all scholarship assets until assets are withdrawn for qualified higher education expenses, will the State of California keep or withdraw any of my scholarship award money?

The State of California will not withdraw any money from your Student Scholarship Account (unless forfeited) nor will you be charged a fee. Your funds are maintained in a separate Student Scholarship Account designated for your use only until you reach the age of 30.

How is my scholarship award invested and does it receive any earnings?

All scholarship awards are invested in a Funding Agreement issued to the ScholarShare Trust by TIAA-CREF Life Insurance Company that guarantees to the Trust a return of principal and a minimum return of 1% per year with the opportunity for additional returns as may be periodically declared in advance. Your scholarship award plus earnings will remain invested in the Funding Agreement until you request a withdrawal to pay for your qualified higher education expenses.

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Withdrawing Funds

When can I use my scholarships?

Scholarships can be used once the recipient is enrolled at an eligible educational institution.

I read that scholarships must be used for qualified higher education expenses. What are qualified higher education expenses?

Qualified higher education expenses include:

  • Tuition and fees,
  • Costs of books, supplies and equipment required for the enrollment or attendance of the student at an eligible educational institution, and
  • Certain amounts for room and board.*

*See Using Your Funds for details.

I read that scholarships must be used at eligible higher educational institutions. How can I find out if the college I plan to attend is an eligible educational institution?

The easiest way is to contact the school. The school must be eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Education Federal Title IV financial aid programs. You may also check the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website, which provides a listing of eligible post-secondary institutions participating in federal Title IV student financial aid programs.

To determine if a specific institution is eligible, enter the name and location of the school. If the institution has a Federal School Code, then it is eligible to participate in the U.S Department of Education Federal Title IV financial aid programs.

Can I use the Governorís Scholarship Award to pay for my student loans?

No. The governing legislation for this program requires the scholarship funds to be sent only to an eligible educational institution where the recipient is currently enrolled.

How do I request a distribution of my scholarship money?

Complete a Qualified Withdrawal Form and mail it to the Governor's Scholarship Programs at the address indicated on the form.

When will I receive my scholarship money?

Once the Qualified Withdrawal Form is received in good order, scholarship money will be sent directly to the eligible educational institution designated by you for payment of your qualified higher education expenses within 3-4 weeks.

How will I know my college received the withdrawal amount?

A confirmation statement will be mailed to you within seven business days of processing your Qualified Withdrawal Form as long as it is in good order. You should contact your college directly to ensure that the funds have been received. During the late summer and early fall, withdrawal requests may take up to four weeks to process.

I received a confirmation statement informing me that a check has been sent to my school, so why are the funds not reflected on my student account at school?

Checks are mailed to your school on the date indicated on the confirmation statement. Once the school receives the check, it typically takes 2-3 weeks to process it, so you may need to follow-up with your financial aid office after that time.

I can't use the funds. Can my family member use them?

No. Scholarship awards and earnings can only be used by the award recipient.

I graduated from an eligible educational institution. Can I request a withdrawal from the Governorís Scholarship Programs to be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses I incurred while I attended the institution?

No. The governing legislation for this program requires the scholarship funds to be sent only to an eligible education institution where the recipient is currently enrolled.

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Effect on Financial Aid

What is the effect of receiving these scholarships on financial aid?

The law enacting the Governor's Scholarship Programs states: "Notwithstanding any other provision of California State law, any funds awarded shall augment and not supplant student financial aid from other California public sources, inclusive of calculating eligibility for student financial aid."

"To the extent allowed under federal law, any Governor's Scholarship award will not be included in the federal needs analysis for student financial aid, as they are assets of the State of California until used for payment of qualified higher education expenses (and are not owned by the student)."

Your Governor's Scholarship Programs award is designed to complement other financial aid from the State of California, such as a Cal Grant. Since these awards are assets of the state until withdrawn, they are not reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as either an asset or income. Once the funds have been withdrawn, the funds represent a scholarship subject to IRS rules and may be considered taxable income for federal purposes in the tax year of receipt. If it is deemed taxable income, the student will report it on the appropriate subsequent FAFSA as income.

These awards can be used at any post-secondary institution that is eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Education Federal Title IV financial aid programs; including schools outside the country. See the Student Information Sheet for more detailed information regarding financial aid and the Governor's Scholarship Programs.

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