Scholarship policies

Policies and procedures for departmental awards

Departmental awards

“Departments” (including schools, colleges, centers, institutes, programs and other university-affiliated organizations) shall select recipients of departmental awards (as defined in section 8.4) and notify OSFA via the appropriate form.  OSFA shall, subject to section 5.3, authorize disbursement of funds to the recipient.  (Section 8.4,

WSU Administrative Policy 01-10, Administration of Institutional and Departmental Nongovernmental Financial Aid, provides the required procedures that schools/colleges/departments (s/c/d), which includes centers, institutes, programs and other university units, must follow to offer scholarships and similar awards to students.  

Section 1.4 of the policy establishes the central administration and monitoring of all financial aid awards within the Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA). Section 8.1 of the policy defines “financial aid” as “any scholarship, grant, award, prize, fellowship, stipend or loan given to a student (1) by the federal or state governments or on their behalf by the university, or (2) by any nongovernmental agency external to the university, or (3) by the university.”  

Award criteria

The criteria for scholarships paid from endowed programs must comply with donor agreements. The school/college/department (s/c/d) is responsible for developing and documenting the criteria for awards paid from the endowed programs. The s/c/d that offers an award is responsible for ensuring recipients meet the criteria at the time of the offer. In addition to the award criteria, the s/c/d must retain the following information for three years minimum for audit purposes: selection process(es), award recipient(s), and all other related award information.  

Award selection and notification

Each school/college/department must have a written selection process that includes eligibility criteria for each scholarship program administered. Each s/c/d must be able to provide written evidence, which may be subjective in nature, to support the rationale for selecting each recipient. Units that make awards must:

  • Coordinate and maintain records of all applicants and the selection process for three (3) years;
  • Provide written notification to recipients; and
  • Notify OSFA of all awards via the Student Award Authorization process.

Missing supporting documentation increases the risk of non-compliance with donor restrictions and/or internal policies and procedures, inappropriate awards, and the loss of future funding contributions.

Written notification to students must include a statement that scholarship funds may replace other institutional awards and that the sum of all awards cannot exceed the financial aid cost of attendance. 

Award criteria waivers

Departments must maintain written documentation to support waiving scholarship award criteria. At minimum the documentation must include (1) the written authorization of the donor for the department to waive the award criteria, (2) the department’s statement of acceptable waiver rationales and their required evidence, and (3) the approval of the appropriate scholarship committee of the specific waiver.  Records of approved waivers must be maintained for three award years.  Note: Compliance with University policies cannot be waived. 

Scholarship funds monitoring

Each s/c/d is responsible for monitoring scholarship funding levels. The following two reports can be run on demand via the SAMS Portal.

  • Scholarship Funding Availability –The purposes of this report are (1) to identify (a) fund balances and (b) unpaid awards and (2) to project income and funds available to be awarded by School, College or Department.
  • Reconcile Unpaid Awards - The purpose of this report is to identify and reconcile unpaid awards by School, College or Department.  

Award change requests  

After a department approves an award in ScholarshipUniverse or submits an SAA to OSFA, the department may need to make a change for the entire document or for an individual student. Submit all change requests, including complete explanations, to OSFA at Note: Do not submit a new/amended SAA to OSFA. 

Award definitions

Cost of attendance

The estimated cost of attendance is determined by law (Higher Education Act, Sec. 472) and is the basis used for awarding all financial aid. A student’s awards cannot exceed the cost of attendance. The student’s cost of attendance is composed only of reasonable educationally related expenses for their program of study. This set of components is used for calculating cost of attendance for all aid programs:  tuition and fees; room and board; books and supplies; transportation; miscellaneous personal expenses; and student loan fees. Additional expenses may be added with documentation of actual costs: dependent-care expenses; disability-related expenses; studyabroad expenses; and employment expenses related to cooperative education programs. Cost of attendance includes a student’s actual tuition charges and a prorated books and supplies estimate based on enrollment status. Estimated living expenses vary based on whether a student is living on campus, at home with parents or on their own. 

Financial need

Per University Policy 01-10 Administration of Institutional and Departmental Nongovernmental Financial Aid: 8.2

"Financial need" is, for purposes of this university policy, defined by federal regulations, and is calculated, pursuant to those regulations, by OSFA.

Federal financial aid regulations define financial need as the difference between an institution's cost of attendance (COA) and the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or Student Aid Index (SAI), which is determined via the information the student provides on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Cumulative GPA

Award selection must be based on a recipient’s cumulative GPA unless the award Memorandum of Agreement specifies semester GPA for the basis.  

Donor statement reporting period

July 1 – June 30 is the donor statement reporting period unless the award Memorandum of Agreement specifies a different period. Funds must be used within the statement reporting period. Therefore, annual or endowed scholarship funds cannot be used to assist students with a prior year balance.  

Conflict of interest

The circumstance of a university employee’s personal interests potentially benefiting from his or her official actions or influence is considered a conflict of interest. To prevent conflict of interest and the perception of conflict of interest transactions, university staff should not offer scholarships to family members (including current and former in-laws), friends, or the family members and friends of those to whom they report. Such award offers should have independent party initiation and review. 


An “overaward” is the granting of financial aid in excess of “financial need.” (Section 8.3, If a student receives federal or state financial aid, OSFA is required to reduce the awards to prevent an overaward created by the addition of scholarship funds. 

Other financial assistance - reporting requirement

Under federal financial assistance regulations all monetary or non-monetary gifts to a student made by any WSU department or individual representing the university must be considered when awarding the student federal financial aid. This includes funds paid directly to the student or reimbursed on behalf of the student. If you are tracking the receipt of such items on a per-student basis, then the cash amount or value must be communicated promptly to the Office of Student Financial Aid at Include the student’s name, AccessID, gift amount/value, and the date of gift.