What Are Scholarship Terms and Conditions?

The phrase “terms and conditions may apply” often comes up in relation to special offers, giveaways, and coupons. Usually, these terms and conditions are designed to ensure compliance with laws and protect the offeror from legal or financial risk. People also often have to agree to certain terms and conditions to use certain websites, apps, or software, for the same reasons. But what about scholarship terms?

Although the need for terms may not be your first thought when undertaking a charitable endeavor, setting conditions is an important step in creating an impactful scholarship.

What Are Scholarship Terms?

Most scholarships come with criteria regarding who is eligible to receive them. These criteria are part of the scholarship terms, and they can be as broad or specific as the donor chooses. A scholarship might only be intended for female medical students, or it could be available on a first-come, first-serve basis for any student with financial need.

Additional scholarship terms might be found in the scholarship agreement. This agreement functions as a contract between the donor and the recipient. It often states what requirements a student must meet not only to be granted the scholarship but also to continue receiving it.

For instance, the Scholarship agreementagreement might require the student to take at least 12 credit hours per semester or maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. If those requirements are not met, the student might lose the scholarship. The agreement may also specify what a student can use the scholarship funds for or require the student to write a thank-you note to the donor.

By signing the scholarship agreement, the recipient accepts the scholarship funds as well as the terms the donor set. The donor, in return, agrees to provide the specified funds, as long as those conditions are met.

Stating your criteria up front on your application form, and even linking to your full agreement, helps to deter unqualified applicants and streamline your process.

Why Is a Scholarship Agreement Important?

Without a written agreement, there may be confusion regarding what the scholarship covers and what is expected of the student. The student may assume, for instance, that a $500 scholarship is $500 per semester for the rest of his or her college career. The donor, on the other hand, may have only intended to offer a one-time $500 scholarship or $500 divided equally between the fall and spring semester of each academic year.

A strong scholarship agreement helps you, as the donor, ensure your money makes the biggest possible difference and meets your goals. For instance, you might consider it wasteful to spend thousands of dollars on a student who isn’t taking his or her classes seriously. To help avoid that situation, you can set GPA and course load requirements. You might also want to avoid paying for unnecessary classes. To do that, you can require that the student graduate within a certain number of years or stipulate that you won’t pay for study-abroad or summer classes.

What Should Be Included?

The specific terms of a scholarship agreement will vary, depending on the goals of the donor and, in some cases, the policies of the university. However, every scholarship agreement should cover the following:

  • The amount of the scholarship
  • How and when the scholarship is disbursed
  • How long the scholarship will continue
  • What the scholarship can be used for
  • The minimum GPA and course load required
  • Any additional requirements, such as thank-you notes or community service
  • Under what circumstances the scholarship may be canceled or adjusted
  • What happens if the student withdraws or takes a leave of absence
  • What happens if the student changes his or her major or ceases to meet other criteria

Once you have an idea of how you want your scholarship to work, check out the scholarship management system Submittable offers. Create, publish, and organize the forms you need in our specialized software. The platform streamlines your entire process, from collecting applications to choosing a recipient.

Rachel Mindell

Rachel Mindell is a Special Projects Editor at Submittable. She also writes and teaches poetry. Connect with her on LinkedIn.