Undergraduate Scholarship & Waiver Policy

These policies apply to funds administered centrally through the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) and the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, as well as those administered by colleges and departments.

Student recruitment, retention, and graduation are key components of the university’s strategic plan. Scholarship and waiver funds must be better coordinated to attract high-ability students, to add to the diversity of the student population, and to remove financial barriers to maintain access for all qualified students. In addition, centralized coordination of scholarships and waivers will assist in meeting in federal, state, institutional, and donor compliance requirements.

Scholarship & Waiver Policies

The following scholarship and waiver policies have been established:

  1. Financial aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance budgets as established by OSFA. Scholarship and waiver awards may be reduced or canceled if it’s determined that the student is over-awarded or over budget. Some outside agencies (NCAA, National Science Foundation, etc.) may allow for an exception to this policy, but any exception must be reviewed and approved by OSFA.
  2. OSFA will be the campus authority on determining the definition of financial need, as well as identifying students with financial need. The current definition is cost of attendance minus expected family contribution (as determined by the current federal methodology formula) equals financial need. (Financial Need is reduced by other financial aid awards the student is receiving.)
  3. Full-time enrollment (a minimum of 12 hours per semester) in a regular degree program is required to receive a scholarship or waiver unless a donor agreement states otherwise. (Exceptions may be requested for graduating seniors or other special situations.)
  4. All donor requirements as stated in fund agreements will be followed.

Scholarship & Waiver Priorities

Scholarship and waiver priorities should be reviewed at least every 5 years to ensure that the priorities are consistent with campus goals, enrollment targets, and the strategic plan. 

The following scholarship and waiver priorities should be considered when making scholarship and waiver decisions:

  1. Address unmet financial need—In recent years, costs have increased at a significantly higher rate than financial aid, resulting in increased levels of unmet need. Individual students may be both academically meritorious and financially needy, so providing more need-based scholarships and waivers can help meet multiple goals.
  2. Serve recruitment goals—Strengthen funding for the highest achieving and most talented students. To the extent possible, provide 4-year recruitment awards. Award amounts should generally be at sufficient levels to be effective recruiting tools. This amount is currently determined to be $6,000, although there is recognition that the majority of current University of Illinois scholarship awards are less than this amount.
  3. Support diversity goals—Strengthen funding for underrepresented populations to ensure a diverse undergraduate population, including students from a range of socioeconomic, geographic, and racial-ethnic backgrounds from the state of Illinois.

Scholarship & Waiver Procedures

The following scholarship and waiver procedures have been established:

  1. All scholarship and waiver funds should be disbursed centrally through established university procedures (i.e., through OSFA or USFSCO). Scholarship and waiver funds should not be paid directly to the student.
  2. Scholarships and waivers should be awarded by March 1 preceding the academic year unless the fund agreement states otherwise.
  3. Scholarship renewal criteria will be evaluated annually at the end of spring semester unless the fund agreement states otherwise.
  4. Students may appeal a scholarship awarding decision to the awarding department or OSFA. The decision of OSFA is final.
  5. Scholarship and waiver award letters and communications should include the following cost of attendance statement: “Please be aware that the combination of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance. If the total amount of financial aid exceeds the cost of attendance, awards (including scholarships) may be reduced so that the total financial aid no longer exceeds the cost of attendance.”
  6. Scholarship award letters and communications may encourage, but not require, students to express their appreciation for the scholarship by writing a thank-you note to the donor.
  7. The University of Illinois Foundation is the university authority on interpreting donor requirements contained in a fund agreement.
  8. OSFA coordinates all financial aid awards, including scholarships, grants, prizes, awards and waivers. This coordination includes monitoring that aid is capped at the cost of attendance.