Paying for college is no picnic! But, thanks to our generous donors, it’s easier. They make it possible for students at every age, income level, academic ability, and athletic aim to receive Community Foundation scholarships. They understand that the gift of education is priceless. Because of their generous donations, we can say, “yes” to Grant County’s most deserving students. All Grant County U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens pursuing higher education at an accredited nonprofit university, college, or trade school, part-time or full-time, who are from Grant County are eligible to apply for scholarships. Of course, funding is limited and highly competitive, not every applicant will receive a scholarship. To improve your chances, however, check out the steps below of how a scholarship becomes a reality.
1. IRS Regulations
IRS publications 525 and 970 define the legal standard for a scholarship as ‘qualified education expenses’. Therefore, scholarship awards can be used for tuition, fees, and books only.
The Pension Protection Act (PPA) requires us to:
(a) Approve the scholarship application questions;
(b) Oversee the selection process; and
(c) Appoint a majority of scholarship reviewers to any family scholarship fund committees.
2. Donor Criteria
Each donor establishes their own scholarship criteria at the time the fund is opened. It is the job of the Community Foundation to ensure that the pre-established criteria is met by each applicant.
The Foundation uses information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) and college choice to determine an applicant’s financial need.
To complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), you will need:
– Your Social Security Number
– Your Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
– Your federal income tax returns,W-2s, and other records of money earned.
– Bank statements and records of investments (if applicable)
– Records of untaxed income (if applicable)
– An FSA ID to sign electronically.
– If you are a dependent student, then you will also need most of the above information for your parent(s).
A small group of volunteers review each scholarship application in an anonymous review process where all applicant names are removed or hidden.
Reviewers are given the scholarship criteria and asked to score applications based on that criteria. Each reviewer signs a recusal form verifying that they are not related to any applicants and that they will score in a fair and unbiased manner. Once scored, applicants are then ranked from highest to lowest score.
5. Board of Directors
Once the top-scored candidates are identified, the Community Foundation Board of Directors approves the scholarship applicants and offer amounts.
Once a student is approved by the board, scholarship offers are officially made. If the applicant is a 21st century scholar, receives a tuition waiver, or tuition exchange, they can only receive up to $1,000 for books.
7. Scholarship Acceptance Agreement
Until we verify college enrollment and major, an official award cannot be made. We do this via the Scholarship Acceptance Agreement completed by the student.
If the student is verified by the Community Foundation, the scholarship offer can then become an award. If the student isn’t verified, we will make an offer to the runner-up. Changes in college choice and major can cause ineligibility.
Awards are mailed directly to the college bursar’s office no later than the first week of August. We request that funds should be used immediately for ‘qualified education expenses’, as defined by the IRS, and placed in the student’s account.
Scholarships are not automatically renewable. But there are some in which the donor wishes to support a student over multiple years. However, students must apply each year and continue to meet the original criteria of the scholarship in order to be considered for an additional year. Bottom line: Complete the Community Foundation application each year you plan to attend college, no matter how old you are.
Full Tuition Concept
Our goal is to help as many students go to college as possible with our scholarship awards. Each year we calculate the average cost of public school tuition/fees/books as a benchmark for award maximums. Although our funds are limited, we hope to help as many students as possible in selecting a college option that is affordable for them, once all financial aid and scholarship awards are calculated.
In order to make a scholarship as beneficial as possible, the minimum scholarship amount the Community Foundation provides is set at $500.This could mean smaller scholarships are paired together to equal or exceed that minimum. With average textbook costs at approximately $1,000 annually, this minimum helps to fund a semester of books.
By the Numbers
~$500,000 Scholarship dollars available annually
$29,927 Average loan debt for college grads*
$10,000 Average tuition/fees at a state university
$4,000 Average awarded scholarship amount
120 Total number of scholarship funds held at the Community Foundation
*U.S. News and World Report