3.13 Athletic Financial Aid
To provide financial aid rules and guidelines for student-athletes who receive athletically related financial aid.
Section 1. Statement of Principle
- The university believes in the principle of amateurism, that is, that an amateur athlete is one who engages in athletics for the physical, mental, social and educational benefits derived therefrom, and to whom the sport is an avocation.
- The university recognizes that there is a legitimate need for institutional grants-in-aid programs to include students of athletic ability, as well as students possessing other abilities, so long as normal progress is one of the basic principles of selection.
- It is the assumption of the university that athletic financial assistance is awarded the student-athlete because the athlete has demonstrated that he or she has an athletic quality that will enhance the development of the athletic program and the athlete.
Section 2. NCAA Rules and Regulations Regarding Financial Aid
- When a student's athletic ability is taken into consideration in any degree in the awarding of unearned financial aid, such aid shall not be awarded for a period longer than five academic years and such aid combined with that received from other sources may not exceed the limitations prescribed by the NCAA.
- The university is subject to all rules and regulations of the NCAA as they pertain to financial aid to student-athletes and to the interpretations issued by the NCAA in regard to such rules except when Missouri Valley Conference (MVC), Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC), and Mid-American Conference (MAC) rules are more restrictive.
- In the administration of financial aid to student-athletes, the university shall follow the Principles Governing Financial Aid as set forth by the NCAA, specifically Bylaw 15.
- All student-athletes are subject to Article 10, Ethical Conduct, of the NCAA Constitution and to all interpretations of this legislation.
- The university shall limit initial scholarship or grants-in-aid awards, for which the recipient's athletic ability is considered in any degree, to entering student-athletes who meet the requirements as set forth in NCAA Bylaw 14.
The NCAA Division I Manual may be accessed here.
Section 3. Institutional Policy Governing Athletic Financial Aid
- All entering freshmen and transfers (fall term) shall receive their award for the academic year.
- NCAA policies and procedures, as specified by NCAA Bylaw 15, will determine the length and term of the award for all student-athletes.
Section 4. Administrative Procedures for Recommendation and Approval of Athletic Financial Assistance
- Financial Aid Renewal Notification. An institution is obligated to send notification to a student-athlete who received financial aid during the previous semester or academic year on or before July 1 whether the financial aid will or will not be renewed for the ensuing academic year. Such notification shall come from the institution's regular financial aid authority.
Financial Aid Administration
The Athletic Compliance Office staff members work closely with the University of Northern Iowa Financial Aid Office to assure adherence to all applicable NCAA, state and federal financial aid regulations. All transactions of financial aid for student-athlete are administered by the Financial Aid Office staff. This includes the calculation and determination, using federal methodology, of each student-athletes’ cost of attendance. These calculations are performed in the same manner as they are for students in general at the University of Northern Iowa. All athletic scholarship award agreements must be approved by the Director of Athletics (or designee) and the Financial Aid Office in order to be awarded. All financial aid awards for student-athletes are imported into the Compliance Assistant (CAi) financial aid module for monitoring purposes.
The determination as to which student- athletes will receive athletic financial aid - and how much - is the responsibility of each sport's head coach. Sport Administrators must approve all scholarship recommendations, including new scholarships, renewals, cancellations, and reductions. In the event of a cancellation or reduction, student-athletes are provided with the mandatory notice of their right to an appeal hearing and the appropriate process for requesting the appeal hearing.
The Compliance Office maintains the Athletics Department’s paper copies of athletic scholarship agreements and team squad lists once they are completed, reviewed, and signed by the required individuals. Financial Aid Office staff members monitor departmental records (via the NCAA software - CAi) on an on-going basis to assure accuracy and conformity with NCAA rules governing individual and team limits, as well as oversight of the countable status of institutional and any outside awards/scholarships. The following is an overview of specific step-by-step financial aid procedures.
Issuing National Letter of Intent/Athletic Scholarships to Prospective Student-Athletes
- Coaches fill out the “National Letter of Intent/Athletic Scholarship Request” form and submit it to the compliance office. The form must be signed by the sport’s head coach.
- The compliance office ensures that the NLI/scholarship requested for the prospective student-athlete can be processed. The prospective student-athlete must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center and placed on the sport’s IRL. Additionally, the compliance office must have reviewed official or unofficial transcripts/test scores and performed an initial-eligibility evaluation for the prospect to determine the likelihood of the prospect meeting NCAA initial-eligibility/transfer standards. If a coach has not provided transcripts or test scores, an initial eligibility/transfer evaluation cannot be performed and the NLI/scholarship request will not be processed until this information is provided.
- The compliance office also checks the admissions status of the prospect which is notated on the form. Finally, if everything is complete and the initial-eligibility evaluation has been performed, the compliance office enters the prospect into the institutional database and signs the request form.
- The compliance office generates the National Letter of Intent (if applicable) documents and the Athletic Grant-In-Aid documents associated with the request form. The forms are attached to the request form and submitted to the appropriate Sport Administrator for approval. The compliance office submits a projected team scholarship budget spreadsheet to the Sport Administrator for review with scholarship requests.
- Once approved by the Sport Administrator, the compliance office takes the Athletic Grant-In-Aid documents to the Financial Aid Office for signatures.
- The National Letter of Intent/Athletic Scholarship packets are sent out by the compliance office to the prospective student-athlete(s). Once returned by the prospective student-athlete, the compliance office maintains a copy of these agreements on file. Copies of the signed Athletics Grant-In-Aid documents are provided to the Financial Aid Office by the compliance office.
Section 5. Appeals Procedure for Reduction or Non-Renewal of Athletic Financial Assistance
Any student-athlete who receives notification that their aid is being reduced or will not be renewed can request and shall have the opportunity for a hearing before the institution's Financial Aid Appeals Committee. The procedure for the appeal is outlined below.
University of Northern Iowa Student - Athlete Financial Aid Appeals
The Financial Aid Office will notify student-athletes in writing (via email and/or hard copy) if the Department of Athletics has recommended a reduction or non-renewal of the student-athlete’s athletic grant-in-aid (GIA) in accordance with Bylaw 15. The written notification will include information regarding the appeal process as required by NCAA rules. Upon written request within the applicable deadline, the student-athlete will be allowed an appeal to be conducted by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee. The process will occur in a timely manner and the committee’s decision is final and binding. Pertinent information must be provided to the committee in writing prior to the appeal hearing date. An in-person interview, in place of a written appeal, is permitted upon request.
- The student-athlete (S-A) is contacted in writing (via email and/or hard copy) by the Financial Aid Office and informed that the Department of Athletics has formally recommended the reduction or cancellation of his/her athletic aid. The S-A is informed that he or she must contact the Financial Aid Office in writing within 10 calendar days from the date of notification should he or she wish to request an appeal hearing. A late notification, or failure to submit a written request for an appeal hearing within this time frame, shall be interpreted as a refusal for a hearing and the Department of Athletics’ recommendation shall become final and binding. Copies of the notification letter are also sent to the Director of Athletic Compliance and Head Coach. A copy is also put in the S-A’s file in the Financial Aid Office. The Faculty Athletic Representative is notified via e-mail of all reductions/cancellations.
- The request must include the following: student name, student ID, year in school, sport, type and amount of previous athletic aid, specific reason for believing the decision to reduce or cancel the athletic scholarship was unjustified including names of UNI personnel with whom the S-A has discussed the situation, and copies of any relevant documentation. The UNI Athletic Department will then be allowed the same amount of time to prepare their position and respond in writing. The S-A may request an in-person appeal hearing or request to have only written information reviewed.
- If an in-person hearing is requested, the Financial Aid Office schedules the appeals hearing and notifies the S-A, Head Coach, and UNI Athletic Department of the appeal hearing date, time, and location. The Coach and Athletic Department are requested to provide written explanation for the reduction/cancellation of the athletic aid and relevant documentation prior to the date. At the appeal hearing, the student-athlete and the Athletics Department shall have the right to present pertinent information and offer testimony of relevant witnesses, if necessary. The Director of Compliance shall be present at the hearing as an ex-officio member of the Appeals Committee to ensure NCAA bylaws are followed regarding the scope of review. The hearing shall involve a disclosure of positions from “both sides” and is not a court of law or legal adjudication. Attorneys are not permitted to be present or involved in the appeal process or hearing.
- The Financial Aid Appeals Committee meets on the designated date, discusses the appeal, and reaches a decision. The decision of the committee will be based on the facts and information provided at the hearing and the written documentation submitted. The committee’s decision is final and binding.
- The Financial Aid Office sends a written decision to each party within five working days. The decision is final and binding, and the parties are expected to abide by the decision.
Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, approved August 2014
President’s Cabinet, approved November 3, 2014
President and Executive Management Team, approved November 10, 2014