The Tuition Rewards Program Frequently Asked Questions

What are Tuition Rewards?

Tuition Rewards is a unique customer Reward program! You earn Tuition Rewards Points (similar to frequent flyer miles) that can reduce tuition obligations at over 440 participating four-year private colleges & universities in 46 states.

One Tuition Rewards Point equals one dollar ($1.00) in discounts off the “list price” of tuition at participating colleges for undergraduate study beginning with the freshman year. The maximum possible reward per student for the 2021 freshman class over $61,000 — a guaranteed minimum scholarship spread equally over four years of undergraduate education. As with frequent flyer miles, Tuition Rewards Points are not redeemable in cash.

How do I earn Tuition Rewards Points?

You earn Tuition Reward Points through our participating affiliates. Account-holders (“sponsors”) and students typically receive an enrollment bonus just for signing up! Most financial affiliates provide Tuition Rewards Points to account holders using specific calculation or reporting methods (this can be the same amount of points every year or one-time application of rewards based on criteria specific to the financial affiliates). After you have created your account, reporting information specific to your financial affiliate(s) is shown on your account home page in the section titled “Tuition Rewards Reporting Information”.

With the some of our financial affiliates, each year, you receive Tuition Reward Points equal to 5% or 10% of the asset values of your eligible investments. If you save with a participating 529 college savings program, students receive an annual 10% rate on the investment account balance. Rewards are issued quarterly at a rate of 2.5% of account value. If the investment is a 401(k) or a 403(b) retirement plan, rewards to sponsors are an annual 5% of end-of-year account value. With other investments (CDs, stocks, etc.), rewards to sponsors are issued at a rate of 2.5% of account value twice per year.

Typically, Tuition Rewards Points are earned by the sponsor (the parent, grandparent, etc.) and accrued in the sponsor’s account. The sponsor must, by August 31st of the year that 12th grade begins, transfer some or all Tuition Rewards Points to an enrolled student beneficiary for those points to be available to submit to a member college or university. With some of our financial partners, however, Rewards Points are issued directly to participating students.

How do I use Tuition Rewards?

You can use Tuition Rewards Points when and if the students whom you sponsor attend one of the participating colleges or universities. A Tuition Rewards Statement must be submitted electronically to a member school within ten (10) days of a student’s application. Tuition Rewards Points represent a guaranteed minimum scholarship that a student will receive from a member school.

How do I use Tuition Rewards?

Historically, colleges began offering financial aid on a need-only basis (as determined by the FAFSA form). But lately, as college costs have soared, a majority of private colleges now use “non- need” financial aid (scholarships, merit aid) as a method to attract quality students. This aid is being offered as tuition reductions -- that is, discounts off the “list price” of tuition. Knowing this, SAGE Scholars has negotiated with member colleges and universities to automatically present a financial reward to families who save for college.

Colleges know that the direct costs (professors, teaching materials, etc.) for additional students are less than the full tuition. So, by guaranteeing you a discount off the full price of tuition, as long as colleges cover their direct costs, they come out ahead. Our colleges understand that they need to remain affordable, and they’re eager to reward families who are truly planning for college.

How much can I save off a participating colleges tuition?

The maximum that schools are obligated to accept is 25% of the cost of tuition (based on freshman year tuition), spread equally over four years of undergraduate education. For example, if the “list price” of tuition for a school is $30,000 per year when your child matriculates, this means that your guaranteed minimum discount would be up to $7,500 per year (providing that you submitted at least 30,000 points to the school). These amounts are taken from the published list prices as shown in the Higher Education Directory each year. One point equals one dollar in tuition discounts.

Do all schools accept up to 25% off the cost of tuition?

Most do, but not all. Colleges that joined our consortium prior to mid-2004 may have a fixed maximum amount they are required to accept. This amount was based on national averages of tuition at the time and is typically $13,800 or $15,600.

This sounds great. What does it cost to participate?

The Tuition Rewards program is free to families & employees. There is no membership cost for participating colleges or universities. All supporting fees are paid by the financial affiliates of SAGE Scholars, who are seeking to provide investors, clientsor employees with an added benefit that differentiates the company from competitors.

I’m a suspicious person. Is this for real?

Tuition Rewards has passed legal scrutiny from two state treasury departments, banks, credit unions, mutual fund companies and multiple insurance carriers. The insurance industry is heavily regulated by state authorities; each participating carrier has a compliance department that has carefully scrutinized our program. Member colleges sign contracts with SAGE Scholars agreeing to provide tuition discounts to participating students.

What deadlines do I need to be aware of?

For most account holders, there are three important deadlines: (1) adding students to Tuition Rewards, (2) allocating rewards to students, and (3) submitting Tuition Rewards statements to member schools.

  1. Adding students to Tuition Rewards - August 31st of the year that the student begins 12th grade is the last day that a student can be added to the program.
  2. Transferring your earned Tuition Rewards to a student - August 31st of the year that the student begins 12th grade is the last day that a student can receive (or earn directly) Tuition Rewards.
  3. Submitting Tuition Rewards statements to member schools - A student’s Tuition Rewards must be submitted, by either a sponsor or the student themself, to any member college that the student has applied to within ten (10) days of the student’s application to that college.

Whom can I “sponsor” in the Tuition Rewards Program to use my Points?

You can add children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other family members (including stepchildren and godchildren) to use your Tuition Rewards Points. You cannot sponsor students such as your neighbor’s or co-worker’s children where there is no familial relationship.

Will my Tuition Rewards ever expire?

Unused Tuition Rewards will never expire.

How does this affect my child’s financial aid package?

When a college participates in Tuition Rewards, it’s an indication that this is a college that provides generous financial aid! Our Tuition Rewards Points are a “Tuition Assistance Guarantee.” They represent the minimum scholarship — merit award, grant or discount — that a student will receive from a participating school. Member colleges may “blend” [include] Tuition Rewards into a financial aid package or may elect to “stack” [add] Rewards when creating the aid package. Sometimes, students receive the same total amount of aid but more discount and less loan.

Is participation in SAGE a guarantee of admission into participating colleges?

No. Each school’s normal admission standards apply.

Why are so many colleges signing up?

That’s easy — our colleges want to attract more students, or better students, or both. Our colleges are eager to attract qualified students who might not be familiar with the school. Recently, a member college revealed that, among 28 sources of student leads, Tuition Rewards ranked 5th as a source of inquiries, applications and acceptances — and 3rd in enrolled students.

Many families see published tuition costs and may not even investigate private universities and colleges — believing, mistakenly, that their child can’t afford to attend. Hoping to attract these families, participating schools are reducing tuitions by up to 25% through our scholarship program.

Don’t private colleges cost more than state schools?

Yes. But, the dollar difference is considerably less than you might think. First, “list price” often varies very significantly from the actual price that you pay because of discounts & scholarships (including merit aid) that private colleges offer. Also, you need to factor in the graduation rate

According to a UCLA study, the four-year graduation rate for private universities is 64% — versus 37% for public universities. When you consider the cost of a 5th (or 6th) year of college at a state school — versus a private college graduate working and earning a salary in year five — the costs become very comparable… especially with Tuition Rewards. Private colleges offer more value than you may realize; for example, private colleges spend an average of $21,000 per student on faculty costs; at state colleges, the average is $10,000. At a private college, your child should expect smaller classes, more personalized attention and more career counseling.

Do state schools participate in the program?

No. Participating schools include only private four-year universities and colleges. In general, except for athletic scholarships and a few honors programs, state schools do not provide tuition discounts beyond a “need” determination based on the FAFSA form.

Does the list of participating schools change?

Yes! In the past 5 years, we added 100 new colleges and universities. Our annual college retention rate exceeds 98% per year. If a college withdraws, it’s still responsible for points earned until the withdrawal date. If the private college that interests your family is not participating now, it may join by the time your child is ready to apply to college.

Is there a limit to the number of children I can register?

No. Register ALL of your family members; don’t forget nieces, & nephews! Our colleges want us to enroll as many students a possible. Students must be registered by Aug. 31st of the year that 12th grade begins. Make sure you enroll your students before the enrollment deadline.

Do I have to allocate Tuition Rewards equally to the children that I’m registering?

No, it is up to you to decide how you want to give your Tuition Rewards to the students you sponsor. You simply must allocate Tuition Rewards to a student by August 31st of the year that a student begins 12th grade. We recommend that sponsors allocate Points to the oldest child first; if he or she doesn’t attend a member college, transfer the Points to the next-oldest child in your family.

Is there a maximum of points I can accumulate?

No. But, the maximum Tuition Rewards you can use per student is limited to 25% of a member college’s current tuition (or as contractually agreed). Rewards are spread evenly over a projected four years of attendance (and never issued in cash).

Can you provide an example?

If the participating college’s freshman year tuition fee is now $20,000, and you have earned 20,000 (or more) in Tuition Rewards Points, the maximum that you can use is 20,000 points. Your child’s tuition cost is guaranteed to be reduced by at least $5,000 per year for four years at participating schools.

What if I don’t use the Tuition Rewards? Can I give my points to my church / school / employer / another family?

If you don’t use your Tuition Rewards Points, then you’ve still lost nothing; Tuition Rewards is a free program for families. Tuition Rewards can only be used by the children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews whom you sponsor. If an older beneficiary doesn’t use his or her points, you may transfer the points that are not student-specific (for example, non-bonus points) to a younger enrolled student. You cannot give unused Tuition Rewards to another parent or organization.

Does any of my financial data go to the colleges?

No. Your data is kept strictly confidential. Only the total points accumulated are sent to a member college. The college is not told how the Tuition Rewards were earned (the investment specifics), by whom (parent, grandparent, uncle, etc.) or the asset values.

Can my child still apply for financial aid?

Yes. Absolutely! The purpose of the Tuition Rewards Program is to insure that the student(s) you’ve sponsored will receive a scholarship at least equal to the size of his/her Tuition Rewards. And, as Tuition Rewards Points represent a discount, not an asset, your points are not listed on the federal form determining financial need (FAFSA).

Are Tuition Rewards Points similar to a scholarship?

Exactly! Tuition Rewards represent a guaranteed minimum scholarship, provided by the college or university, that a student will receive, spread evenly over four years, if and when he/she attends a participating school. If your student receives another type of scholarship, the member college can choose to “blend” [include] or “stack” [add on top] the Tuition Rewards with other scholarship funds or discounts. Member colleges do reserve the right to impose reasonable academic performance requirements consistent with other scholarship awards.

Are Tuition Rewards taxable?

We are not tax attorneys; however IRS Publication 970, “Tax Benefits for Education”, states clearly, “you do not have to include a qualified tuition reduction in your income.” Tuition Rewards meets the qualified tuition reduction definition.

Are Tuition Rewards applicable to room, board, fees?

No - only to tuition.

Can Tuition Rewards be used for graduate school?

No, Tuition Rewards can only be used for full time, undergraduate education beginning with the freshman year at a participating private college or university

If you are interested in a professional certification, graduate studies, or degree completion our new SAGE Prime program is designed to make continuing education more affordable. SAGE Prime is a guaranteed tuition discount available to every sponsor in the SAGE Scholars network. For more information or to opt into SAGE Prime login to your Tuition Rewards account and click on the SAGE Prime button

Can Tuition Rewards be used if my child transfers to a member college or university?

It’s up to the school to which he or she is transferring. While there is no contractual obligation that would require that the school to honor the rewards, most schools are willing to honor at least a portion.

Must the identified assets (hard dollars) actually be used for my child’s college expenses?

No. Funds used to earn Tuition Rewards do not need to be used to pay for college. It’s always your choice how you finance your child’s (or grandchild’s) education.

What happens if I sell my eligible investments, change employers or no longer participate in employee benefits?

You stop accumulating Tuition Rewards Points, but the points that you’ve already earned are yours to use, unless the financial provider that you earned your Tuition Rewards with stipulates otherwise.

Can I ever “cash out” my Tuition Rewards account?

No. Tuition Rewards are points, not dollars, and are never awarded in cash. (If your student does not attend a participating college, points that are not student-specific can be re-assigned to a younger enrolled beneficiary.

My child is in 9th grade. I don’t see any colleges of interest. Why should I participate?

Did you know that at public universities, according to a UCLA study, only 37% of incoming freshmen graduate in four years - versus 64% of freshmen at private universities? The percentage of students who graduate in four years at a private college is the same as the percentage who graduate in six years at a state college. Private colleges are less expensive than you realize - and our program makes attending a private college even more affordable. Three additional reasons to participate: First, by the time your child is ready to apply to college, additional schools of interest are likely to join. Second, it doesn’t cost you anything to participate in the program, regardless of where your child goes to college. Third, after doing research, you may find that we offer many appealing choices. Or, you may have another child - or niece, nephew or grandchild - who could benefit in the future.

My child is in 9th grade, the college he/she wants to attend doesn’t join SAGE until my child is in 12th grade, will I still receive my total reward, from 9th grade on?

Yes! That’s the beauty of SAGE — as more colleges join, Tuition Reward Points are applied to these schools, too — and, you have more choices!

What happens if a college joins that my student has already applied to, or has matricualted to?

If a student has already matriculated to a college that then joins, the college has no obligation to honor his or her Tuition Rewards. The same applies for an incoming freshman if the financial aid offer has already been made.

Does my child have to choose a school now?

No.

What if my student first attends a community college — and then wants to transfer to a four-year member college?

Our agreements with our member colleges specify that Tuition Rewards Points are to be used for undergraduate education, starting with the freshman year. That said, you can submit points to a member college when a student transfers. Although the college has no obligation to accept the points, many of our colleges will do so (“pro-rating” points over a projected two years of attendance).

This sounds too good to be true. What’s the ‘catch’?

Member colleges participate because they are able to recruit more or better students. Your children may receive some mail or email from participating colleges once they begin high school. In return, you gain the opportunity to pay less tuition at over 440 private colleges in 46 states.

SAGE Scholars News

Ottawa University Kansas Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
Ottawa University Kansas Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
April, 2022
Ottawa University Kansas, which offers a remarkable number of varsity sports teams — 33 — to serve a student body of 650 undergraduates, has become the 11th Kansas private college to join the SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards program. 88% of OU Kansas students are athletes, including numerous unexpected possibilities: beach volleyball, bowling, competitive cheer and dance, Esports,...
Laguna College of Art + Design Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
Laguna College of Art + Design Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
April, 2022
Laguna College of Art + Design, preparing individuals for careers as creative artists and designers in a culturally and ethnically diverse world, has joined the SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards program -- the 14th participating college to specialize exclusively in the arts. Home to 700+ student artists, LCAD offers 11 undergraduate majors, nine minors, three graduate degree programs, and a...
Simpson College Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
Simpson College Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
March, 2022
Simpson College, where nearly 100 students participate on the highly-acclaimed Speech and Debate Team, winner of Pi Kappa Delta national championships four of the past five years, has joined the SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards program. Speech and Debate scholarships are available at Simpson, located near Des Moines, Iowa’s state capital. Small class sizes create a dynamic learning...
CrossState Solutions Partners With SAGE Scholars
CrossState Solutions Partners With SAGE Scholars
March, 2022
CrossState Solutions Partners With SAGE Scholars To Offer NJ, PA Credit Unions Unique College Scholarship Program. Harrisburg, PA and Hightstown, NJ — SAGE Scholars (www.tuitionrewards.com) and CrossState Solutions have partnered to give New Jersey and Pennsylvania credit unions of all sizes access to Tuition Rewards®, a program that helps families afford a quality four-year...
Richard Ekman Joins SAGE Scholars Board of Directors
Richard Ekman Joins SAGE Scholars Board of Directors
March, 2022
Richard Ekman, Ph.D., recently retired president of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), has joined the board of directors of SAGE Scholars, Philadelphia, the nation’s largest private college preparation and funding organization. During his 21 years as CIC president, Ekman was a highly visible advocate of the value of private liberal arts education, increasing the council’s membership to...
St. Francis College Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
St. Francis College Joins SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards
February, 2022
St. Francis College, which is moving in September to a new downtown Brooklyn campus that will accommodate an expected jump in enrollment to 3,500 students by 2026, has become the 15th Franciscan-affiliated Catholic college to join the SAGE Scholars Tuition Rewards program. According to its President, Dr. Miguel Martinez-Saenz: “For more than 160 years, St. Francis College has demonstrated...