University of Alberta students fear two major scholarships for undergraduate students have been suspended.

The students' union says academic and leadership awards worth up to half a million dollars have been put on hold.

"The administration has informed me that due to reconfiguring their awards system and weaknesses in their IT system, hundreds of existing student scholarships will not be given out this year," said Dustin Chelen, vice president academic.

"It's a tough year financially for University of Alberta students as well," he said. "So to suspend scholarships this year doesn't make sense to me."

This decision will affect up to 350 undergraduate academic and leadership scholarships, he said.

The university said the money will be awarded, just not this year. It added that changes to scholarships are part of a review of process and timing, and not related to recent budget cuts.

Up to now the scholarships have been handed out early in the winter semester, but the university is reworking the timing, said Perry Thorbourne, assistant registrar, student awards.

Students will now be told in the spring if they've been awarded a scholarship for the following school year, helping returning students decide if they can even afford to come back, he said.

The students' union is upset the scholarships won't be handed out this year, saying some students are counting on that money.

Chelen said he's received many calls from worried students wondering where the money is.

"I moved here specifically for the program and so I rely on funding to live and study," said student Taya Meads. "It's actually really scary."

The university hands out about $25 million, primarily from donations, in scholarship money every year.