Congratulations you won a scholarship to help pay for college. Now the scholarship organization is asking for a bunch of documents. Know this is normal. Most give reassurance to the scholarship organization that you are meeting the rules or terms and conditions scholarship requirements. For others, the documents may be meeting tax regulations or creating a legal binding document that you voluntarily, freely, and knowingly agree to the terms of the scholarship agreement.
Every organization is different when it comes to what documentation they require in order to disburse a scholarship. Here are several of the common items requested and why:
Name and address of college’s student accounts or financial aid office
Scholarship organizations want to be able to send the scholarship check to the college and ensure the
Enrollment verification: For some, a letter of admission or your acceptance of admission may suffice. Some may request that you send a copy of the classes you registered for the fall semester. For others, they may require an official certification that you are enrolled at least half time. If this is the case, you may have to wait until you start school to make the request for enrollment verification.
Confirmation of intended major
If a scholarship requires that you are working towards a degree in a specific major, the scholarship organization may require that you demonstrate that you are enrolled in a particular course of study.
Transcript: Many multi-year scholarship awards require that you maintain a specific GPA or be enrolled in at least-half time or even full-time in order to get additional disbursements. In such cases, the scholarship organization may ask for a copy of your latest report card or ask for copy of your official college transcript.
Pro Tip: Since official college transcripts can cost around $50, ask the scholarship organization is you can provide an unofficial copy from the college’s student information system. Most college’s systems allow students to log in to their system and see a summary of enrollment and even grades. As long as you can print the summaries with the college’s information on it, many scholarship organizations will appreciate getting the information they need and you will appreciate only needing to pay for the paper the summary is printed on.
Affidavits of Eligibility, Liability, and/or Publicity Release
In the litigious age that we live in, many organizations want to have a legal agreement with a scholarship recipient to review specific terms in conditions. Some of these agreements focus on that you are having knowingly provided accurate information on your scholarship application. Others want you to acknowledge that the winner is responsible for any taxes, costs and expenses associated with the receipt and/or use of the scholarship. Others are wanting to ensure that you have agreed that organization can use name, location, photograph, likeness, voice, biographical and personal information, statements from your scholarship application, film, video, audio recording or other recording taken with you. This is because the scholarship organizations want to publicize the winner to their community, the other scholarship applicants, and the general public. Often for non-profits, this often helps the organization solicit for more funds for future scholarships. Be aware that if you are not 18 years old yet, you will have to have a parent or legal guardian sign the agreement.
If a scholarship is over $600 and is awarded directly to a student (especially if this is before a student is enrolled in college), then scholarship organization needs to issue a 1099-Misc Income to the recipient and therefore needs a to request IRS W-9 Form.
529 College Savings Account Information
Some scholarship organizations who want to award scholarship funds before a student is enrolled in college may offer to send the payment to a qualified 529 college savings plan account. In this way, the scholarship organization can be assured that the scholarship funds are used for qualified education related expenses.
This is not an exhaustive list. It does represent the documents the most common categories. Ensure that you are comfortable with providing the information requested and ask questions directly to the scholarship organization is you want additional details about the documentation requested.
Colleen MacDonald Krumwiede is a financial aid and paying for college expert with over a decade of financial aid experience at Stanford GSB, Caltech, and Pomona College and another decade at educational finance and technology companies servicing higher education. She guides go-to-market strategy and product development at Quatromoney to transform the way families afford college.