New Legislation: Financial Aid

New Legislation: Financial Aid

Keywords: Meals, Natural Disasters, Financial Assistance, Acts of God, Scholarships, Emergency.

At the 2018 NAIA National Convention our membership voted on new legislation. Legislative Services is going to break down some of the more substantial changes in our legislative briefs over the next few months. This is the fourth brief in the new legislation line and links to the previous briefs are below. This week we are discussing two new changes that are in the same bylaw, Article II, Section B. There are two new exceptions to our financial aid bylaws that will provide more clarity for schools on what is allowed and not allowed.

New Legislation Briefs:

Below is the bylaw in its entirety with the new exceptions underlined.

Article II, Section B.

Assignment of scholarships, grants in aid, or student loans shall be controlled by the faculty through the regularly constituted committee on student loans and scholarships.

Any financial aid or assistance to prospective or enrolled students in money or in kind, except that which comes from members of their immediate family or from those upon whom they are legally dependent, shall be administered by the institution under policies and procedures established by the institution through its regularly constituted committee on student loans and scholarships. Under no conditions may an individual or organization provide direct financial assistance to a previously enrolled or prospective student.

Scholarships, grants in aid, and student loans shall be awarded on such bases as will not discriminate for or against presumed or recognized athletes. Athletes and non-athletes shall be required to maintain the same minimum academic standing to qualify for such scholarships.

All donations to the general athletics program and/or the athletics scholarship fund by outside organizations shall be deposited in an institutional fund and be administered by appropriate institutional committees under the control of the chief executive officer.


A member institution shall award no more financial aid to a student-athlete than the actual cost of:

  1. Tuition
  2. Mandatory fees, books, and supplies required for courses in which the student-athlete is enrolled; and
  3. Board and room for the student-athlete only, based on the official board and room allowance listes in the official institutional publication. 

Further financial assistance to a student-athlete by a member institution, other than listed above, is prohibited.

EXCEPTION 1: An institution may pay for necessary medical and dental expenses incidental to a student-athlete’s participation in intercollegiate athletics at the member institution. Necessary expenses may include medical, surgical, medication and therapy expenses incurred as a result of an athletic injury; medical examination costs; and athletic related medical insurance. Institutions shall not provide assistance for expenses for treatment of a student-athlete’s illness or injury not resulting from intercollegiate athletics participation.

EXCEPTION 2: An institution, affiliated conference, or the national office may provide actual and necessary expenses associated with attendance at a student-athlete advisory committee or student-athlete leadership meeting or activity, so long as the meeting or activity is sponsored by the institution, affiliated conference or national office. Such costs may be paid directly to the service provider or as reimbursement to the student-athlete, and allowable expenses may include but are not limited to cost of travel, meals, lodging, awards and personal gifts or apparel (in accordance with Bylaws Article VII, Section C).

EXCEPTION 3: An institutional representative or authorized booster, as approved by the institution, may provide an occasional meal for a student-athlete(s), not to exceed twice per month unless approved by the institution’s athletics director. The meal’s cost must not exceed the institution’s standard per diem amount for a student-athlete or $30 in value per person, whichever is higher.

EXCEPTION 4: In cases of a natural disaster or emergency, an institution may provide financial assistance to a prospective or enrolled student-athlete(s) in money or in kind provided the institution’s established financial assistance process or distribution method is followed, and any such assistance is available to the general student body. A third party relief organization (e.g. Red Cross, United Way, local community organization, etc.) or other first responders may also provide assistance in money or in kind provided any such assistance is available to all individuals affected by the disaster or emergency.

This regulation regarding maximum financial aid to a student-athlete is not intended to place pressure on any member institution to increase its program to this level. This regulation is made to protect the NAIA from overly ambitious programs and to help protect the amateur status of student-athletes.


Key points of this legislation:

  • Effective August 1, 2018.
  • An “institutional representative” is any staff member of your institution.
  • The institutions shall make a determination of who will approve these occasional meals. The bylaw does not require a person in a certain position.
  • These new exceptions are student specific, meaning an individual student could receive the disaster assistance or an occasional meal.
  • If your institution does not have a standard policy on student per diem then the max allowed for exception three is $30.00.
  • This bylaw includes prospective or enrolled students, meaning the student does not have to be currently enrolled in your institution.
  • The ability to approve more than two occasional meals a month resides exclusively with the athletic director.
  • It is each NAIA institution’s responsibility to ensure these regulations are followed and monitored.
  • Exception three only allows for occasional meals, thus a booster or institutional representative could not give a student cash, or the equivalent.
  • Third-party relief organizations include any independent organizations not associated with your institution that provide relief in emergency situations.
  • Other first-responders are people in the community that might not be associated with an actual relief organization. This could include restaurants, hotels, neighbors, etc.
  • An individual can receive this relief as long as necessary and, if applicable, as long as others in the community have the same availability to the assistance.
  • The definition of emergency is to be determined on a case-by-case basis by the institution and/or relief organizations.

Case Studies

*Assume all schools are NAIA institutions unless otherwise noted.

Scenario 1:

Mac is a football player at Royal University. Mac is originally from a small Caribbean island that was recently hit by a hurricane. Mac relies on his parents for financial support but because of the hurricane they cannot be reached. Mac has exhausted his funds and needs basic necessities. Royal University has a process of providing assistance in these types of situations to any student on campus. Could Mac utilize this process to receive basic necessities from Royal University?

Answer 1:

If Royal University determines this to be an emergency in which they would help any student, then they could provide assistance to Mac. This assistance may include clothing, food, and shelter and could be provided as long as the school deems necessary.

Scenario 2:

Brookside University’s dorms are destroyed in a fire displacing many students including athletes. Can Brookside University provide these athletes with housing and food?

Answer 2:

Yes, if Brookside University provides this assistance to all of the students.

Scenario 3:

Mesta Park College’s baseball team is on a road trip to Miami, home to one of their biggest boosters. The booster takes the team to a food court and gives every member of the team a $20 bill to be spent on food. Would this meet exception three?

Answer 3:

No. The institutional representative or booster cannot provide the students with cash, or the equivalent. She could purchase all of their meals, but she cannot give the money to the baseball players.

Scenario 4:

Northland University’s soccer team has an alum that is a professional soccer player and wants to take the team to an expensive restaurant before a big game. There is not an item on the menu that costs less than $45. Northland University does not have a standard per diem amount for student-athletes. If the alum takes the team to the restaurant and picks up the tab, would this meet exception three for occasional meals?

Answer 4:

No, because the amount will exceed $30 per player. The exception allows occasional meals as long as they do not exceed $30 or the standard per diem amount for student-athletes, whichever is higher. In this case, since there is not a standard per diem amount, the maximum that could be spent would be $30 a player. 

Scenario 5:

An assistant soccer coach is contacted by a booster who would like to take the team out for a dinner. The soccer team has already had two meals in the current month paid by a booster. The assistant coach attempts to contact the athletic director to get approval for the additional meal, but the AD cannot be reached. Can the assistant coach approve the meal?

Answer 5:

No. Any additional meals must be approved by the athletic director and to have the meal without approval will result in a violation.


Please join us at noon central on Tuesday for Facebook live, where Legislative Services will discuss this topic in more detail.