Ocean State University (OSU) administrators are finalizing the scholarship budget for next year. They have committed to providing COA to a few of the teams, and have revised their financial aid agreements accordingly. However, they do not have the budget to pay this increase in expenses. OSU’s conference office, Ocean’s Eleven, has indicated it is okay per conference policy to use Student Assistant Fund (SAF) dollars to cover the COA expenses. Is this permissible per NCAA legislation? Do the SAF expenses covering COA have to be considered countable aid?
Yes it is permissible within NCAA legislation and yes those dollars would be considered countable aid. The Autonomy Legislation Q&A Document (updated 5/22/15) provides further clarification on this matter.
Question: If a financial aid agreement specifies that it will provide “other expenses related to attendance”, can the SAF be used to provide those expenses?
Answer: It is permissible to use SAF to provide other expenses related to attendance at the institution when those expenses are included in a financial aid agreement, provided the SAF funds used in such a manner are counted toward the student’s individual and team financial aid limits. Institutions remain responsible for ensuring that SAF funds, including those disbursed under these circumstances, are not used to provide tuition and fees, room and board or required course-related books during a regular term and are not included when reporting athletics aid for revenue distribution or other NCAA Bylaw 20 purposes. Finally, for purposes of NCAA financial aid legislation it remains permissible, subject to institutional and conference policies and procedures, to use SAF for other expenses related to attendance at the institution that are not included in the student’s financial aid agreement without affecting the student’s individual or team financial aid limits.