I am on a "full-ride" scholarship at a public university in Michigan. I signed my agreement/acceptance of the scholarship when I was 17 years old. I will have sufficient credits next year to graduate early by 1 year. However, I just found out that I need an extra 36 credits to fulfill "Honors" requirements for my scholarship, which would push my graduation back a year and create issues, as I am already signed up to leave for the Marine Corps next May. If I choose not to do so, is it likely/possible that I could get sued? Or instead will they just withold my degree? Or neither?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Look at the terms of your contract - it's likely that if you don't comply with the credit/degree requirements specified in the contract, which apparently includes the honors credits, then you aren't entitled to a degree and/or the scholarship, and the school will withhold your degree. try to resolve it amicably. the contract may just encompass the financial terms of your scholarship - is the scholarship even with the school, or with another person or entity?
If the scholarship is not with the school, then the school may not be able to withhold your degree if you have completed sufficient credits according to the school's policy. It is the party who is paying your tuition that would have the beef with you if you violated the contract.
The scholarship contract is likely void because you were a minor when you signed it and you can't enter into a binding contract until you're 18 or legally emancipated. However, claiming the contract is void may not be in your best interests, as that could open up the door to them claiming you owe them all the tuition money. While that is a far reach, they could try to pursue it. whether or not a court would allow them to try to collect against you, and/or ultimately win, is a different story.
If a contract is found void, it's as though it never existed. However, there are other principals of law that come into play when a contract is found void (or where a contract wasn't in writing), called "equitable remedies." You received a substantial benefit as a result of the scholarship contract, which entitles the paying party to something if you violate the contract. How a court would exactly decide this issue can't be opined on - there are certain applicable theories of law that i explained above, but courts apply the law based on the specific facts of your case.
have you asked about a hiatus from school - like a 1 or 2 year break so you can go to the Marine Corps and then come back and finish school, without violating your contract and/or ensuring that you will still have a scholarship to count on? Even if that's not permitted according to the current contract, you could negotiate an amendment. If you do modify the current agreement, ensure that it's in writing and that you understand what you're agreeing to.
You may wish to retain a lawyer to review your contract and/or negotiate with the paying party and the school to ensure that you are fully protected and obtain a good result.