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Scholarship Management

  • Responsible Office: Office of Financial Aid, Division of Strategic Enrollment Management, Office of the Provost
  • Current Approved Version: 03/09/2020
  • Policy Type: Administrative

Policy Statement and Purpose

This policy provides requirements for the awarding and administering of scholarships held or controlled by VCU. VCU will award all scholarships in a timely fashion and in accordance with stated donor intent and/or criteria with the goal of maximizing the utilization of scholarships to 100 percent of the available funding.  

The Division of Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) stewards the data associated with students, their enrollment, and financial relationships with the university. The Office of Financial Aid (OFA) within SEM has oversight for the accurate and legitimate application of awards to student records and accounts.  OFA also has a shared responsibility for the operational scholarship application process with units that recommend awards.  

Noncompliance with this policy could result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. VCU supports an environment free from retaliation. Retaliation against any employee who brings forth a good faith concern, asks a clarifying question or participates in an investigation is prohibited.

Who Should Know This Policy

Employees of the Office of Financial Aid (OFA), the Division of Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM), the Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR), Division of Student Affairs, and units are responsible for knowing this policy as well as familiarizing themselves with its contents and provisions.

Definitions

Financial need

The difference between the cost of attendance (COA) as defined by the Office of Financial Aid and the expected family contribution (EFC) as calculated from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Gift agreement

A formal document between a donor and a VCU-affiliated foundation. Gift agreements record the specifics of a gift (i.e. amount, pledge period, criteria) and the donor’s intent.  

Responsible employee

Any VCU employee authorized to participate in the scholarship management process on behalf of a unit. 

Scholarship

A grant of financial aid awarded to a student based on the outcome of a formal evaluation process to be used for the purpose of attending VCU.

Current Scholarship

o Created by a gift or allocation of university funds that are not invested in perpetuity.   

Endowed scholarship

o Created by a gift that is permanently restricted by donors for scholarship support, invested in perpetuity, and provides an annual distribution from investment income as the basis for the annual award.

Restricted funds

o Monies given, collected or donated for a specific purpose and used only for that purpose.

o Funds may be designated for a school/major and then further restricted by defining criteria.

Third-party scholarships

o Scholarships fully controlled and administered by an entity other than the university or its affiliated foundations and not controlled, administered, or held by the university or its affiliated foundations as investments or operating funds.

Unrestricted scholarship

o Monies given, collected or donated for any scholarship purpose.

Units

o Includes colleges, schools, departments, programs and other offices that administer scholarships to students outside of the OFA.

Contacts

The OFA is responsible for the interpretation and implementation of this policy. The OFA is responsible for obtaining approval for any revisions as required by the policy Creating and Maintaining Policies and Procedures through the appropriate governance structures. Please direct questions regarding this policy to the executive director of the OFA.

Policy Specifics and Procedures

The OFA manages the financial resources of VCU scholarship aid for the benefit of students and to promote university priorities. All existing and new scholarships are administered through the universitywide scholarship management system maintained or approved by the OFA. All responsible employees and units must make every effort to maximize the utilization of scholarship funding to 100 percent of available funding. Responsible units utilizing less than 95 percent of available funding in a prior fiscal year shall submit a report to the vice provost for Strategic Enrollment Management and vice president for Development and Alumni Relations within 90 days of being notified identifying strategies for full utilization for the next scholarship cycle.  

DAR supports the university’s mission by soliciting and stewarding gifts to the university. VCU-affiliated foundations receive, manage, and make distribution of privately invested funds donated in support of student aid which may cover any cost of attendance category (i.e. books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses) unless the scholarship is specifically designated to cover only tuition and fees. 

DAR executes and maintains records of all gift agreements and communicates requirements to the appropriate responsible parties, units and the OFA. Scholarship criteria are recorded in gift agreements or, in the absence of a gift agreement, other supporting documentation. 

In partnership with units and DAR, the OFA is responsible for verifying donor intent and/or stated criteria and determining student financial need. Units will collaborate with the OFA if applicant financial need is to be considered in the recommendation of recipients. Once the responsible employee(s) select award candidates, they must submit the recommendation to the OFA in a timely fashion. The OFA is responsible for the final review of all recommendations made by units to ensure recipients meet the stated criteria of the scholarship and, after review, disbursing the awards to the student account. The OFA is further responsible for notifying DAR of award recipients and amounts. 

Third-party scholarships may not be administered, managed or distributed with university resources or by university units. However, the OFA may choose to post a notice of available third-party scholarships of which the university is aware.

Scholarships restricted to athletics or student-athletes must be managed and awarded in accordance with National Collegiate Athletic Association’s recruiting, eligibility and financial aid bylaws.  Contact the associate athletics director for compliance and student services with any questions about these scholarships

Prior to each new academic year, the OFA will create and distribute written procedures and guidelines for scholarship administration to the university community through the entities outlined in the “Who Should Know This Policy” section above. These procedures and guidelines will address fund utilization and administration, the application processes, advertising opportunities, selection of recipients, award notification and records retention. Responsible parties and units must adhere to all scholarship administration procedures and guidelines communicated by the OFA. 

Fund utilization and administration: The OFA will maintain and distribute a universitywide award disbursement timeline for scholarship awards. The responsible unit will make scholarship opportunities available based on information in the gift agreement or other supporting documentation in accordance with the universitywide timeline established by the OFA. The OFA will report annually on the utilization of scholarship funds to the vice provost for Strategic Enrollment Management and vice president of Development and Alumni Relations. 

Application process: The OFA will author and maintain a central general scholarship application. Units may author and maintain a supplemental application with unit and/or fund-specific criteria that will assist in identifying qualified applicants for individual scholarship opportunities. Deadlines and applications will be authored and advertised by the respective responsible unit using the universitywide scholarship management system maintained or approved by the OFA. Scholarships awarded outside of the traditional disbursement timeline must be approved by the OFA or shall otherwise be marked as unawarded for the purpose of OFA’s annual assessment of the unit’s scholarship funding utilization.

Advertising Opportunities: The responsible unit shall make reasonable attempts to notify potentially eligible students of the availability of its scholarships and selection criteria in time for students to apply and meet the application deadline. Responsible units shall publish and advertise their scholarship applications, awarding calendar, selection criteria, and application deadlines. In addition to using the campus scholarship management system maintained by the OFA, it is recommended that advertisements be shared via email, websites, student newsletter, printed materials and through adviser and faculty networks.    

Selection of Recipients: Responsible units will identify qualified applicants for each scholarship opportunity and may use review committees for this purpose. Recipient candidates’ status will be communicated by the responsible unit to the OFA in order to verify that candidates satisfy the criteria of the scholarship to be awarded, assess the impact of the award upon the candidates’ financial aid, and communicate any issues back to the responsible unit.  Once any outstanding issues are resolved, the OFA will confirm the candidate's eligibility to receive the award.

Review Committee:  It is recommended that responsible units establish a review committee to assist in reviewing scholarship applicants. Review committees will be informed by the responsible unit of the respective scholarship opportunity criteria and will rate applicants in a centralized scholarship system managed or approved by the OFA based on scoring rubrics authored by the responsible unit. The responsible unit will consult with the OFA on financial need of applicant if applicable.

Review committee members are required to be university employees who have completed student record privacy training, including FERPA and applicable state law.  A review committee may not include any individual who has donated to the particular scholarship or any individual who is not a university employee.

Award notification: Following confirmation from the OFA, the responsible unit will notify recipients of their selection and any terms and conditions of accepting the scholarship (including name of scholarship and offer amount) and request recipient acknowledgement of the terms and conditions. Once scholarship recipients have acknowledged the terms and conditions, the responsible unit will communicate the confirmed recipient information and award amounts to the OFA. The OFA will enter scholarship recipient information into Banner in a timely manner.

Records retention: The OFA shall maintain detailed records to show that funds are disbursed in the correct amounts to eligible students. These records shall be retained in accordance with established policies and other requirements and made available to authorized parties in the course of audits, program reviews, or investigations. Personal identifiable information in these records must be safeguarded and may be released only as permitted by applicable federal and state law, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, and its implementing regulations, 34 CFR Part 99, and the Code of Virginia section 23.1-405(C). All application materials, student information, review scoring, award notifications and amounts will be recorded in the centralized scholarship system. This information along with the respective gift agreement or supporting documentation may be referenced for reconciliation or audit purposes as needed and must be retained as specified by established university records retention policy.

Forms

There are no related forms associated with this policy and procedures.

Related Documents

1. Yearly scholarship management cycle plan created by the OFA at the beginning of an award cycle.

Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

Approval/Revision DateTitle
None - New Policy  

FAQ

There are no FAQ associated with this policy.