The Partnership Scholarship Program provides matching funds for church scholarships. Look over the eligibility requirements carefully to ensure your program qualifies for matching funds from Bethel.
Criteria for student selection can be as general or as specific as the church desires-it's completely up to you. You may restrict your awards based on requirements like a grade point average or plans to enter church vocations. Some churches divide scholarships among all qualifying students or just select a single student based on need or merit.
Formal Church Approval
To qualify for matching funds from Bethel, your church scholarship program must be approved by either the church governing board or by the membership in a business session. This prohibits an individual from simply giving a gift that passes through the church books.
Getting church approval is also a great way to raise the visibility of the program and build prayer support for your college students.
Bethel requires that the church scholarship is a true scholarship, meaning the student recipient must not work for or repay the church scholarship. Ideally, funding for scholarships should be provided by a line item in the church budget or earnings from endowed funds.
A special scholarship fund may be established outside the church budget as long as care is taken to ensure that such a fund is handled properly. To keep the program within government (IRS) regulations and to maintain its integrity, we ask that churches observe three restrictions:
- If a special fund is used, gifts from individuals must be made to the fund and not to specific individual students. This allows the donor to claim the gift for tax purposes. It should be the responsibility of the scholarship committee to select the recipients and determine the amount of the awards within church-approved guidelines.
- Students and their parents should not benefit from their own giving. If a special scholarship fund is established, a student may not receive a scholarship from the fund during a year when that student or his/her parents have given to the fund.
- A church scholarship may not be a redirection of other funds already in the church budget. Specifically, a portion of the pastor's salary may not be designated a scholarship for his/her children in order to gain matching funds. Along the same lines, the scholarship can't be payment to a student for work done through the church.
Establishing a Scholarship at Your Church
All scholarships should be created by official action of the governing board or by the congregation in a business meeting. The motion should be somewhat general, but should specify:
- Source of funds (budget, memorial funds, or special scholarship fund)
- Group that is to administer the program
- General intent of the program
Groups administering scholarships should develop a description of the scholarship requirements and an application form. Here are samples to get you started: