September 17, 2020 - "I will not be turning the items in, (my school) has already helped me." This was a recent email we received from a parent who had applied for aid but did not turn in any of the requested documentation necessary for us to verify her application. This is not the fist time we have heard this sort of reply from a parent and yet it raises serious concerns of which your school should be reminded.
Grant and Scholarship Procedures
The main laws affecting the awarding of scholarships are the laws relating to private foundations and non-profit organizations. For example, section 4945(g)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code 1 specifies that all grants (read scholarships or tuition aid) are awarded on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis using a procedure that has been approved in advance by the board of directors of the sponsoring organization and that has been designed to ensure that all such grants meet the IRS requirements for scholarship programs found in paragraphs (1), (2), or (3) of section 4945(g) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Requirements for Scholarships/Tuition Aid
Accordingly, the following are IRS requirements for the awarding of scholarships or financial aid:
Our advice to private schools offering tuition aid is to have written procedures for awarding such aid. This should include that your school will utilize a third-party vendor such as CFS-BeneFAQ who will provide the same application and verification processes to all applicants BEFORE any award is determined by the school. Once verification is complete, the school may proceed to award aid to the applicant family. To provide assistance without following IRS requirements may mean consequences imposed by the IRS such as fines or disqualification of 501(c)3 standing.
Consider circumventing the proper process not worth the potential penalty should you ever be audited regarding tuition aid you have granted.