You most probably have come across the phrase “terms and conditions apply,” whether about giveaways, sweepstakes, special offers, the use of a website, app, or software, or even a product you bought. But scholarships are no different. When students are offered scholarships, they are usually required to comply with several terms and conditions set out by the scholarship provider.
However, if not clearly stated, which often is the case, this can lead to confusion and breach of the agreement for both the scholarship provider and the recipient, as what is required can vary greatly. This blog post breaks down what scholarship terms and conditions entail, why it is crucial to clearly outline them, what you should include in your T&Cs agreement, and how to enable the recipients to understand and follow them. Keep reading for more information!
What are scholarship terms and conditions?
In general, a Terms and Conditions Agreement (T&Cs) is an agreement that comprises the criteria, policies, guidelines, and possible restrictions governing the use of a product or service, which the user or receiver must adhere to access and continue having access to the offering. The contract also details the possible consequences of a breach of contract or deviation from the stipulated policies. Typically, these terms and conditions are intended to assure legal compliance and protect the offeror from legal or financial liability.
Scholarship agreements are necessary to protect both parties from any misunderstandings. They should specify the rules that students must meet to qualify for the scholarship. For example, the agreement may require students to maintain a certain GPA or register for at least a specific number of courses per semester. Scholarship contracts ensure that both parties are on the same page and that neither party violates the terms.
A scholarship contract specifies the criteria for a scholarship, including course of study, academic performance, extracurricular activities, and other details. In addition, it includes a spot for signature. Admissions and scholarship management platforms like DreamApply also enable the recipients to accept the offers electronically, which stands as the digital signature. Depending on the circumstances, a scholarship agreement may be as simple as a letter of intent or as complex as a contract of terms.
What should the scholarship terms and conditions agreement include?
1. The purpose of the fund
The scholarship terms and conditions should state the overall sum of the fund and the purpose for which it is to be used. This money will often be used to pay for tuition and other fees associated with the educational institution. The scholarship may also cover the cost of books and other equipment used during the course. However, there are other situations where the award money may be used for incidental or optional expenses. These situations should also be spelt out in the scholarship terms and conditions.
2. How and when the scholarship is to be disbursed
If the scholarship is strictly for tuition, will it be paid directly to the student’s programme, or will the money be sent to the student and the individual told to make the payment? How will it be disbursed if it is for other purposes aside from the tuition? It might be paid to the student’s account every month, semester, session, or some different pattern. Also, will the recipient need to send additional documents to request the fund per time, or it is disbursed automatically after the initial processing? All these need to be covered in the scholarship contract.
3. How long the scholarship will last
The scholarship agreement should inform the recipient of how long the scholarship lasts; the duration of their study it would cover. Is it all years of their programme or just one year or semester? Is it renewable? The agreement should also clearly outline how the students can go about the renewal process if there is a need for one.
4. All requirements for retaining the funding
Most importantly, your scholarship agreement should inform the recipients of all requirements they need to meet to continue accessing the scholarship. It might be maintaining a certain GPA, doing some specified extracurricular activities, registering for specific courses, being en route to graduation within a certain period, taking an internship, etc.
5. Consequences of breach of agreement in various scenarios
To protect the interests of both the awarder and the awardee, all aspects of the scholarship must be noted. This includes, but is not limited to, what happens if the student drops out or transfers schools, exceptions, rooms for adjustments or appeals, and any other specific provisions that may be relevant. By setting out these expectations clearly from the outset, the recipients would be aware of what to do or what happens in the case of a deviation from the agreement.
How to ensure students understand and adhere to the agreements
You should give the recipients enough time to go through and understand the scholarship agreement before expecting them to sign it. If possible, encourage them to share it with their guardians for review before appending their signature to it. Why? Often, students overlook the stipulations and claim ignorance later when they deviate from the guidelines.
Notwithstanding, you also have a significant role to play. You should ensure that the scholarship contract is as detailed and as understandable as possible to avoid miscommunication and ensure that everyone is on the same page. It is good to have a copy of this contract published on a web page where the students can access it and keep the details in mind. Several institutions include scholarship FAQs on their websites to offer recipients further clarification.
Also, after the recipients might have read the policies and procedures for receiving the financial aid, acknowledged their acceptance of the terms, and agreed to abide by them, you should endeavour to send them automated periodic reminders on this. Another way to help the students is by requesting occasional updates to follow their progress in using the funds accordingly and adhering to the policies.