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November 2015

Of course, they should return the money!  Draft a nicely worded letter requesting that they return the money.  Be sure to tell them exactly to whom (or what) to make the check payable, the address where it should be mailed, and by what date it should be sent.  After drafting the letter, have it reviewed by another family member or friend to be sure the letter contains no judgement or emotion.  If it is not received by the due date, call to ask when it will be mailed. Do not hassle or harass the person, but be persistent until it is returned.

Doug Harris

Absolutely the recipient  should return the funds! A request should be sent to the family member asking that the funds be returned. The letter/e-mail should be encouraging and note that if they do move forward with enrolling in college that the funds will be made available or that she/he will need to reapply, whatever the procedures regarding your scholarship dictates. The scholarship committee for my family also provides support in addition to funds. This support includes assisting with applying to college, mentoring while in college, etc. Let your family member know that the committee is there to assist her/him and ask how you can help.

The committee should agree upon follow-up actions, such as a phone call and who will make the call, should the funds not be returned within a reasonable time-frame. If there aren’t procedures covering this type of situation, your scholarship committee should develop them to prevent future misunderstandings and include them with the scholarship information that is given to the family.


The Situation:

We provided college scholarship money to a family member who decided they will not be going to college after all.

Shouldn’t they return the money?

 Suzanne Vargus Holloman  

 Bruce Rush



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While the "right" thing to do would be for the family member to return the money, if you did not require the individual to sign any binding memorandum of agreement (in essence a contract) or otherwise stipulate any terms & conditions in writing that the recipient agreed to in writing, there is not much you can do to require them to return the money. In the future, consider creating some type of written agreement stipulating the terms & conditions associated with the scholarship grant. Also, consider not actually paying out the funds in the future until the student has submitted proof of enrollment and/or a transcript documenting satisfactory academic performance if the award covers a prior grading period.


Bruce Rush is President of The Marketing Store, Inc., and former Family Reunion Institute Advisory Board Member. He can be reached at: bruce_rush@verizon.net