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Policies and Procedures for Granting Tuition Waivers

  1. Policy Objectives
  2. The policies described here are intended to ensure that all practices at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that result in the waiver of tuition are characterized by fairness, transparency, and accountability in accord with legal and auditing requirements of the University and the State of Illinois.

  3. The Need for Policies
  4. Each year, the University of Illinois grants tuition waivers valued at more than $250 million (more than $180 million at the Urbana-Champaign campus). The waivers are given for a variety of purposes and under a variety of conditions. Examples include: awards associated with the recruitment of students with unusual talents; parts of financial aid packages for students with need; awards provided to employees of state universities and their children as benefits of employment; and awards to annuitants as retirement benefits. Click here for a table listing programs that generate tuition waivers and the academic or administrative units charged with administering those programs.

    The State and the University have an interest in ensuring that the waiver of tuition serves institutional and state interests, the awards are made in accord with those interests, and the public at large is informed about the availability of waivers. In 1998, the Legislative Audit Commission directed the State Auditor General to examine practices at all state institutions related to tuition waivers. The Auditor General's report identified some gaps in the practices followed at the University of Illinois. A follow-up audit was conducted in Spring-Summer 2000. Twenty-two waiver awards were scrutinized, with the awarding units required to provide documentation specified in the earlier audit. Again, the findings of the follow-up audit identified areas where improvements are needed. Further audits are expected in the near future.

    The fundamental requirements for sound decision making about waivers are: (1) public notice of eligibility and selection criteria for waivers or appointments that produce waivers, (2) oversight of decisions, (3) documenting decisions, and (4) maintaining records. More specific guidance about the types of records that must be kept appears in sections IV and V.

  5. Implications for Academic and Administrative Units
  6. These policies apply to academic and administrative units that

    • grant a full or partial waiver of tuition to a student
    • appoint students to positions (assistantships or fellowships) that provide waivers as a benefit of appointment
    • process a waiver mandated by state law
    • process a waiver required by policy of the Board of Trustees

    The policies require the following practices:

    • CATEGORY A WAIVERS: When eligibility is established in statute or by policy of the Board of Trustees and the University has no role in selecting recipients apart from admitting students, the unit must verify the eligibility of each recipient and retain records of verification and notice.
    • CATEGORY B WAIVERS: When a unit of the University sets the criteria for eligibility and selects the recipients of appointments and/or waivers, the unit must provide public notice of the availability of waivers, eligibility criteria, and selection criteria. Furthermore, recommendations and decisions to award waivers should not be made by the same individual, and the unit must be able to document that the published criteria for eligibility, selection, and oversight criteria were followed.
    Click here to determine which category applies to specific types of waivers.

    These procedures translate into the practices outlined below.

  7. Practices when Eligibility is Established in Statute or by Board Policy (Category A)
  8. The administering unit shall:

    • Secure lists of waiver recipients from authorized outside agencies (e.g., Members of the General Assembly, Department of Children and Family Services, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, etc.).
    • Where recipients are self-nominated (e.g., children of employees of state universities), provide public notice of the application process and forms.
    • Independently verify eligibility.
    • Notify recipients of awards.
    • Maintain all documents involved in the preceding steps.

  9. Practices when Eligibility and Selection are determined by the University (Category B)
  10. The practices when eligibility and selection criteria are determined by university units are outlined in the table below. The administering unit must provide and maintain all documents involved in these practices.

    Published eligibility criteria Minimum criteria to be considered for a waiver or an appointment, including an application procedure. Should be described in unit literature, ideally available on a website. Examples
    Published selection criteria Criteria for selecting among candidates who meet eligibility criteria, ideally available on a website. Examples
    Application forms Completed form or letter of application for each applicant. Examples
    Evaluation document A document showing that each applicant was evaluated against the eligibility and selection criteria. Examples
    Recommendation document The document showing that the recipient was recommended for this award by appropriate evaluators(e.g. a professor or unit leader) Examples
    Decision document A document showing who, other than the individual making the recommendation, made the final decision to appoint or award a waiver to a particular student (e.g., a unit leader or business officer) Examples
    Contract with the waiver recipient or awardee A written contract provided to the recipient, if available. (Contracts generated by appointments processed via electronic human resource systems are the responsibility of the Office of Academic Human Resources, not appointing units.) Examples

  11. Duration of Record Keeping
  12. The records described in sections IV and V must be kept for a minimum of five years beyond the last date of the student's receipt of a waiver. (This is not five years from the date of the appointment or award decision.) Prior to disposing of any records related to tution waivers, departments and units must have filed a Records Disposal Authorization with the the University Archives. See for more information.

  13. Checklist
  14. Units can use the checklist available here to organize and document unit practices. The checklist can be helpful in structuring unit practices and in responding to future audit requests. For CATEGORY B waivers, units must respond to all elements of the checklist. For CATEGORY A waivers, selection and recommendation steps are not required, and, where eligibility is determined by an external source, eligibility and application steps are not required.

  15. More Information
  16. Some useful links about tuition waivers:
    University-wide Waiver Policy
    Assistantship Policies
    Tuition Waiver Policy
    Campus Fellowship and Traineeship Policies
    Office of Business and Financial Services (OBFS)
    IBHE Tuition and Fee Waiver Guidelines