University Policy 18

Scholarships

Formerly Executive Memorandum 78-39
Initially approved March 1, 1978
Revised: February 24, 1998
Revised: August 18, 2014
Revised: October 10, 2016
Policy Topic: Academic Affairs
Administering Office: Financial Aid - University Scholarships

I. POLICY STATEMENT

It is the policy of Western Carolina University ("WCU") to: (i) establish scholarships in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies; (ii) award and administer the disbursement of funds for student scholarships and other types of financial aid in compliance with applicable laws, regulations, policies, and donor intention as reflected in donor/gift agreements; and (iii) disburse student scholarships and other types of financial aid in the most effective and efficient manner for the benefit of eligible students.

II. SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF POLICY

This policy applies to all scholarships, except athletic scholarships, established for the benefit of WCU students or its employees and their families that are administered by WCU, the Board of Trustees of the Endowment Fund of Western Carolina University (the "Endowment Fund") or the Western Carolina University Foundation (the "Foundation").

III. DEFINITIONS

"assistantship" means a type of educational employment opportunity for graduate students based on outstanding academic achievement, performance or accomplishment. Generally, recipients receive monthly stipends for assignments in teaching, research, or professional development duties for no more than twenty (20) hours per week.

"award" or "recognition award" means monetary acknowledgement (e.g., prize) for recognition purposes that is not categorized as financial aid for University education expenses. Awards may be paid from discretionary departmental accounts or endowed funds as defined by donor gift agreements.

"award year" or "aid year" means the time period for which financial aid is available to defray the expenses of university education. The award year follows an academic year beginning with the fall semester.

"awarding authority" means the college, academic department or other awarding unit of the university charged with the responsibility to make recommendations to the university scholarship committee concerning scholarships.

"cost of attendance" or "COA" or "cost of education" or "financial aid budget" means the university's reasonable estimate of the student's educational expenses for one (1) academic year, including tuition, fees, housing, meal plan, transportation, personal expenses, books, supplies, and other related costs (direct or indirect costs).

"degree credible" means courses or credits required for degree completion.

"expected family contribution" or "EFC" means the amount of financial support a student's family is expected to contribute to post-secondary education expenses. The EFC is determined by the federal methodology needs analysis formula utilizing information provided on a student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid ("FAFSA").

"fellowship" means a financial resource typically awarded to graduate students based on outstanding academic achievement, performance or accomplishment. Fellowships generally do not have to be repaid and are intended to defray the expenses of university education.

"financial aid" means monetary support, including grants, scholarships, loans and work study funds, available to students and families to defray the expenses of university education. Financial aid may be provided from federal, state, university, and other sources.

"financial need" or "need" means the difference between the cost of attendance and the expected family contribution (sometime referred to as the "EFC"). Financial need may be synonymous with the term "financial worthiness" as reflected in certain donor agreements.

"financial resource" means any monetary support a student receives related to and as a result of his/her enrollment in the university.

"good academic standing" means that both the qualitative (i.e., GPA) and quantitative (i.e., completion percentage of credit hours) components necessary for degree completion are being met.

"merit" generally means demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, performance, professional attainment or accomplishment, and may be further defined by colleges, academic departments, donor agreements, and regulations.

"outside scholarship" means any scholarship from a source other than WCU, the Endowment Fund or the Foundation.

"satisfactory academic progress" is used to define successful completion of coursework to maintain eligibility for financial aid. WCU must establish, publish, and apply standards to monitor progress toward completion of a degree program, including qualitative and quantitative standards, and maximum timeframe requirements.

"scholarship" means a financial resource awarded to students based on outstanding academic achievement, performance, accomplishment or other factors established in donor/gift agreements with WCU. Scholarships generally do not have to be repaid and are intended to defray the expenses of university education.

IV. ESTABLISHMENT OF SCHOLARSHIPS

A. General Principles

The Office of Development and Alumni Affairs is responsible for receiving gifts to WCU/the Endowment Fund and the Foundation for the establishment of scholarships, and for developing unit-specific procedures and guidelines consistent with and in furtherance of the policy statement in Section I above.

Monetary gifts will be accepted for endowed, annual or one-time scholarships that are awarded through a competitive application process; gifts will not be accepted for direct payments to specific students.

Generally, scholarships are open to every student, but some scholarships may place an emphasis on certain students such as underrepresented, low-income or first-generation college students, as provided in Section IV.B.2 below.

Individuals who wish to establish an endowed or annual scholarship must enter into a donor agreement with WCU/the Endowment Fund or the Foundation, as the case may be. The donor agreement will provide that WCU shall maintain ultimate control over the scholarship application and award process, among other things. Modifications to scholarship criteria or purposes must be made in writing by the donor and an authorized representative of the Foundation or WCU/the Endowment Fund.

Award amounts for endowed scholarships will be determined annually in accordance with the WCU/the Endowment Fund or Foundation spending policies.

Reports verifying fund value and scholarship recipient names will be provided to donors on an annual basis following the end of the university fiscal year.

B. University Guidelines on Scholarship Preferences

1. Discriminatory Scholarships

WCU is committed to the policy of equal employment and educational opportunities for all persons regardless of race, color, national origin, creed, religion, sex, age, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability or military veteran status. WCU recognizes the educational benefits of diversity, which in addition to the factors and classes listed above includes factors such as geographic diversity, cultural and linguistic diversity, family educational attainment, and social background.

Potential donors who wish to establish a scholarship that is closed to some students based upon the factors and classes listed above will be advised that WCU will not establish that scholarship in compliance with federal laws pertaining to non-discrimination (e.g., Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972). In the event a donor alternatively chooses to establish a private scholarship, neither WCU/the Endowment Fund nor the Foundation may provide resources to or participate in the administration of the scholarship or provide any funds to supplement that scholarship's distributable income (the university may elect, however, to provide scholarship applications to students, return completed applications back to the donor, and apply scholarship awards toward the student's charges).

2. Scholarship Preferences

In some instances, potential donors may wish to establish preferences for certain students based on a variety of factors, including factors and classes listed above. While donors are not encouraged to establish preference scholarships, WCU/the Endowment Fund and the Foundation may accept such gifts and administer the scholarship in accordance with the applicable policies and guidelines developed by the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs.

V. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

A. Director of University Scholarships

The Director of University Scholarships is responsible for overseeing the administration of university scholarships. In discharging these responsibilities, the Director of University Scholarships shall work closely with the groups and individuals listed in this Section V and work within the procedural framework prescribed by this policy. Detailed procedures pertaining to the administration of scholarships shall be developed by the Director of University Scholarships and published in the Western Carolina University Scholarship Manual ("Scholarship Manual"). Procedures shall include, without limitation, application procedures, selection/award procedures, award guidelines for colleges and departments, and financial and student account procedures.

B. Scholarship Advisory Council

The Scholarship Advisory Council (the "SAC") is hereby established as a standing body with policy-making and advisory responsibilities delegated by the Chancellor. The SAC shall have the authority and responsibility for the development of policies and procedures related to the application and selection process for university scholarships. In discharging this responsibility, the SAC shall assist the Director of University Scholarships with the development and oversight of the administration of policies and procedures that: (i) ensure WCU scholarships are awarded consistent with fair and equitable processes open to all eligible students; and (ii) ensure maximum utilization of available scholarship funds necessary to recruit and retain students by aligning the award process with the formation of financial aid packages.

The SAC is comprised of the following members:

Director of University Scholarships, who shall serve as chair;
Provost or designee;
Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Engagement or designee;
Assistant Controller;
Dean of the Graduate School;
Dean of the Honors College;
Director of Financial Aid;
Director of Student Recruitment and Transitions; and
General Counsel

C. Resource Allocation Committee

The Resource Allocation Committee (the "RAC") is established as a standing body with decision-making authority regarding the allocation of resources within the Academic Scholarship Fund (Fund #221000) and any other university supported general scholarship fund. Proceeds from the Foundation, the Endowment Fund, and university auxiliary services and other operations provide primary support for Honors College scholarships and several of the Graduate School assistance programs.

The RAC is comprised of the following members:

Chancellor, who shall serve as chair;
Provost;
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs;
Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Engagement;
Director of Student Recruitment and Transitions;
Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance; and
Director of University Scholarships

D. University Scholarship Committee

The University Scholarship Committee ("USC") is established as a standing body that is responsible for reviewing university scholarship applications and selecting award recipients. This committee shall also review recommendations for scholarship recipients from colleges, academic departments, and external recommendation committees and select those recipients.

The USC is comprised of the following members:

Director of University Scholarships, who shall serve as the chair, without vote;
A representative from Financial Aid appointed by the Director of Financial Aid;
A representative from Undergraduate Admissions appointed by the Staff Coordinator;
A representative from Student Leadership and Involvement appointed by the Director of the University Center;
A representative from Development and Alumni Engagement appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Engagement;
Director of Service Learning or designee;
Director of Cherokee Center;
Director of First Year Experience or designee;
A representative from the Foundation Board of Directors appointed by the Chancellor;
Dean of the Honors College or designee;
Dean of the Graduate School or designee;
A faculty representative from the College of Arts and Sciences appointed by the Dean;
A faculty representative from the College of Business appointed by the Dean;
A faculty representative from the College of Education and Allied Professions appointed by the Dean;
A faculty representative from the College of Fine and Performing Arts appointed by the Dean;
A faculty representative from the College of Health and Human Sciences appointed by the Dean;
A faculty representative from the Kimmel School appointed by the Dean; and
Additional members appointed by the Director of University Scholarships and/or the deans as may be necessary to ensure full and timely review of all applications in any given review cycle.

E. College and Department Committees

Every college, academic department, and other awarding unit of the university that is responsible for making recommendations pertaining to endowed scholarships and recognition awards shall establish a scholarship committee in accordance with college, department or unit procedures.

VI. ADMINISTRATION OF SCHOLARSHIPS

A. Awarding Scholarships

1. General Principles

WCU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, religion, sex, age, gender identity or expression, genetic information, sexual orientation, disability or military veteran status in the process of awarding scholarships. Scholarships are awarded through a competitive application process. More information pertaining to the application process and a comprehensive list of available scholarships, including specific award criteria, may be found at: http://www.wcu.edu/apply/scholarships/index.asp

Students may not receive scholarship funds in excess of the cost of attendance.

2. Eligibility and Prerequisites

All enrolled students and students who have applied for admission to the university are eligible to apply for scholarships; however, only students who have been offered admission to the university prior to the scholarship application deadline are eligible for consideration. Students must be enrolled in at least three (3) hours of WCU degree credible coursework in order to receive scholarship funds for that period of enrollment.

All admitted freshmen and transfer students will be considered for academic scholarships based on credentials submitted during the admission process, and all admitted graduate students will be considered for fellowships and scholarships in accordance with Graduate School policies.

Students must submit the FAFSA by the priority filing deadline in order to be considered for need-based scholarships. More information may be found at: https://fafsa.ed.gov/index.htm

3. Selection of Recipients

Final decisions regarding scholarship awards are made by the USC in accordance with the procedures detailed in the Scholarship Manual. The USC may receive recommendations from an awarding authority; provided however, in the event that the awarding authority does not recommend awarding all available scholarship funds, the USC or the Director of University Scholarships has the authority, in their sole discretion, to award all available funds.

As student recruitment and retention are key components of the university's strategic plan, all students should be notified of scholarship awards prior to the fall semester billing period.  Unless otherwise specified in the donor gift agreement, awarding authorities should submit recommendations to the USC prior to June 30 for undergraduate student awards and August 1 for graduate student awards.  In the event that recommendations are not received by these dates, the USC or the Director of University Scholarships has the authority, in their sole discretion to select recipients.  In cases where awarding authorities fail to submit recommendations by the specified dates for three consecutive years, future selection for the impacted scholarships will be made by the USC in accordance with their selection process.

B. Disbursement of Scholarship Funds and Recognition Awards

All awarded scholarships must be reported to the Financial Aid Office. Scholarship funds are disbursed in accordance with the Financial Aid Office policies and procedures.

Recognition awards that include a cash prize made by colleges and/or academic departments must be reported to the Financial Aid Office for purposes of compliance with federal financial aid regulations. Any funds received by the student as a result of post-secondary enrollment, including recognition awards, are considered to be a "financial resource" and are required to be accounted for under federal financial aid regulations (funds received as compensation for any type of employment resulting in the generation of a W-2 are excluded).

C. Terminating Scholarships and Appeals

The records of scholarship recipients will be reviewed each semester to confirm that the recipient meets the requirements for enrollment and the qualitative and quantitative components necessary for degree completion. Scholarships may be terminated based upon a recipient's failure to meet any one (1) or more of these requirements.

The Director of University Scholarships shall provide written notice of termination to an affected student, which shall be delivered to the student via his/her official university email address. The notice of termination shall specify the reasons for termination, which may include the cause(s) specified above.

Upon receipt of the notice of termination, the student shall have seven (7) calendar days from the date of the notice within which to request an appeal of the university's decision. All appeals must be in writing, and the written appeal shall include the following information:

1. A personal statement describing the reasons or extenuating circumstances that merit a review of the student's scholarship eligibility. The statement may include information concerning personal problems, events or circumstances that had a negative impact on the student's academic performance.
2. Copies of written letters of support and/or other documents that substantiate the personal statement, if applicable and available. Documentation provided must include the name, signature, and contact information of the person preparing the document.

Written appeals, along with substantiating documentation, must be submitted to the Director of University Scholarships, Office of Financial Aid, Western Carolina University, 118 Killian Annex, Cullowhee, North Carolina 28723; or bholcombe@email.wcu.edu .

The SAC shall promptly review written appeals and decisions shall be communicated to the student in writing by the Director of University Scholarships within three (3) calendar days of receipt of the appeal. The decision of SAC shall be final.

VII. POLICY REVIEW

This Policy shall be reviewed and revised as necessary at least every four (4) years.

VIII. RELATED POLICIES AND RESOURCES

Financial Aid Office: 118 Killian Annex
(828) 227-7290
(828) 227-7042 (fax)
http://www.wcu.edu/current-students/financial-aid-office/index.asp

University Scholarships: 118 Killian Annex
(828) 227-7290
(828) 227-7042 (fax)
http://www.wcu.edu/current-students/scholarships/index.asp

ScholarCat: under construction

WCU Scholarship Manual: under construction

Office of Development and Alumni Affairs: http://www.wcu.edu/giving-to-wcu/index.asp

Office of Web Services