Approved by Senior Staff on November 29, 2016
This policy does not apply to the following awards, which may also be announced at the Awards Convo but which are covered by different policies: travel awards, May Term awards, graduate school awards, and music lesson awards.
Every spring, Earlham College holds an Awards Convocation to honor specific students for exceptional academic performance as well as for outstanding achievements in areas such as community service and athletics. While the purpose of these awards is to recognize students' excellence, many also include a monetary component through the generosity of our donors. The donors have stipulated in almost all cases that the prizes should be awarded based on merit rather than on financial need. As with all restricted gifts, Earlham is obligated by law to use these funds in accordance with donor requirements. Quite a few donors suggested prizes as low as $50 to $100, but the growth of endowed funds over the years means that more income is now available to be spent.
Determining the Amount Available for the Award
The Institutional Advancement office, working with guidance from the Accounting office, will determine the amount that is available for each monetary spring award. This amount will be based on the current balance in the spendable income fund as well as endowment income expected to be earned. The Institutional Advancement office will exercise judgment, in consultation with the Accounting office, to determine how much of any large spendable balances should be awarded in the current year versus being spread out over several years.
The amount to be awarded will not necessarily equal the amount a student actually receives. Awards may be effectively reduced depending on a student’s financial aid status, their student account standing, or the taxability of the award. (See “Disbursing Monetary Spring Awards” section for details.)
Selecting the Award Recipients
Each spring award has criteria for how the awardees are to be selected. In most cases, members of the teaching faculty select the students. Information is sent to the faculty informing them of the donor criteria and stressing that if an award is to be based on merit, then the financial need of students should not be a consideration in the selection process.
If faculty are told the potential amount of an award, they will also be told that the actual amount the student receives may be lower. Faculty are asked not to tell students about the award before the students receive an official letter from the Academic Dean. Faculty are also expected not to discuss with the student the amount of the award or how it will be disbursed, because those particulars will vary depending on the student’s situation.
Federal Regulations and Impact on Financial Aid
Per Department of Education regulations, Earlham must count monetary spring awards as additional financial aid for those students who receive Federal financial aid. Federal regulations also prohibit granting financial aid to students who receive Federal financial aid in excess of the student’s financial need. To ensure that we are in compliance with the Federal regulations, monetary spring awards for all students will be processed and disbursed by the Financial Aid office as credits to a student’s account. The full amount that is available for the award will be disbursed to each student account in this manner.
For students who receive Federal financial aid, the Financial Aid office must review the impact of any monetary spring award on the student’s financial aid package. If the spring award results in the student receiving aid in excess of their need, then other aid must be reduced accordingly. Preference will be given to reducing non-earned work awards first, then loans, and finally grants. The Financial Aid office is solely responsible for determining the impact of a monetary spring award on the rest of a student’s financial aid package in compliance with Department of Education regulations.
Disbursing Monetary Spring Awards
At Spring Convo, awardees will receive a certificate and, if their award includes a monetary prize, a notice of the amount of the prize with a description of how the prize will be disbursed. This description will state that the full amount of the prize will be disbursed to their student account, but that (1) for students with Federal financial aid, other financial aid they have received may be reduced to be in compliance with Federal regulations, (2) for international students, taxes may be withheld on their award, and (3) for students who have a large balance due the college, some or all of the award may be applied to this balance.
Students will be given a date by which all of the above calculations will be completed and refund checks from their student accounts will be issued by the Accounting office. The Accounting office is solely responsible for determining the amount of refund checks. Every effort will be made to give students as generous a check as possible, but if a student is seriously delinquent on their account, it is possible that the entire award will be kept and no check will be issued. In such a case, the student does receive the award, but does not have the flexibility of how to spend the award because it is automatically applied to the balance they owe the college.