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Frequently Asked Questions

     What are Tuition Rewards?
Think of Tuition Reward Points as similar to "frequent flyer miles" that can be used for discounts on college undergraduate tuition, starting with the freshman year, at a about 300 hundred participating private colleges & universities. Instead of earning Tuition Rewards by flying, you earn them by saving and investing with our participating financial partners.

How do I earn Tuition Reward Points?
You earn Tuition Reward Points through our participating partners. Account-holders ("sponsors") and students typically receive an enrollment bonus just for signing up! With the majority of our financial partners, each year, you receive Tuition Reward Points equal to 5% (or 2.5% biannually or 1.25% quarterly) of the asset values of your eligible investments. For example, if you have $25,000 saved with a participating 529 college savings program, bank or credit union, then at the end of the year, assuming no change in asset value, you will receive 1,250 annual Tuition Reward Points.

Some financial partners provide Tuition Reward Points to account holders using other calculation or reporting methods (such as annual flat-rate increases or one-time application of rewards based on criteria that the financial partner sets). After you have created your account, reporting information specific to your financial partner(s) is shown on your account home page in the section titled "Tuition Rewards Reporting Information".

Typically, Tuition Reward 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 (assign) some or all Tuition Reward Points to an enrolled student beneficiary for those points to be available for use. With some of our financial partners, however, Reward Points are issued directly to participating students.

How do I use Tuition Reward Points?
You can use Tuition Reward Points when and if the students you sponsor in the Tuition Rewards Program attend one of the participating colleges or universities. A Tuition Rewards Statement must be submitted electronically to a member school at the time of a student's application to the school. Tuition Reward Points represent a guaranteed minimum scholarship that a student will receive from a member school.

Why would colleges accept less than full tuition?
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 from middle and higher-income families. This aid is being offered as tuition reductions -- that is, discounts off the "list price" of tuition. Knowing this, SAGE has negotiated with member colleges to automatically present a financial reward to families who save for college.

How much can I save off a participating college's 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.

What deadlines do I need to be aware of?
For most account holders, there are three important deadlines; (1) adding students to SAGE, (2) allocating rewards to students, and (3) submitting Tuition Rewards statements to member schools. Each of the deadlines is explained in detail on this page. If your student does not attend a member college, there is a 4th deadline – three years after time of graduation to re-claim the points for use by another student that you sponsor.

Will my Tuition Rewards ever expire?
Tuition Rewards in a sponsor's account (as shown on the Account Statement page) will never expire. Unused Tuition Rewards left allocated to a student (i.e. in a student's account) will expire on August 31st three years after the year of high school graduation. Unused rewards should be moved back to the sponsor's account prior to the expiration date.

Why are so many colleges signing up?
That's easy -- they want to attract more students, or better students, or both. And, they're eager to attract qualified students who might not be familiar with their college. Colleges know that the direct costs (professors, teaching materials, etc.) for additional students are less than the full tuition for those students. So, by guaranteeing you a discount off the listed price of tuition based on the dollars you've invested - 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 saving for college.

Who can I "sponsor" in the Tuition Rewards Program to use the Points I earn?
You can sign up children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other family members (including godchildren) to use your Tuition Reward Points. You cannot sponsor students such as your neighbor's or co-worker's children where there is no familial relationship.

Is there a cutoff date for sponsoring a student?
Yes. All students must be sponsored in the Tuition Rewards Program prior to August 31st of the year that the student begins 12th grade. The reason for the cutoff is that participating schools are given the junior & senior years to recruit students in the program.

Do I have to allocate Tuition Rewards to my students equally?
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.

When one of my students applies to a participating school, how and when do I notify the school about the Tuition Rewards?
You must submit a statement of your student's Tuition Rewards at the time of the student's application to any participating college. You can do this by logging into your account on and going to your "Account Statement" page.

What if I don't use the Tuition Rewards? Can I give my Tuition Reward Points to my church / school / employer / another family?
If you don't use your Tuition Reward 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 in the program. If an older beneficiary doesn't use his or her Tuition Reward 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.

This sounds like a good program. What does it cost to participate?
The Tuition Rewards Program is free for families.

Is participation in SAGE a guarantee of admission into participating colleges?
No, each school's normal admission's standards still apply.

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.

What if my student receives a merit scholarship? How will this affect the Tuition Rewards Scholarship?
Tuition Rewards represent the minimum scholarship, spread evenly over four years, a participating student will receive if and when he/she attends a participating school. If your student receives another scholarship from a SAGE member school, then the school can choose to "blend" (include) or "stack" (add on top) the Tuition Rewards with the other scholarship funds, grants or other discounts.

Are Tuition Rewards applicable to fees, room, board, books, etc?
No, just 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.

Can Tuition Rewards be used for summer school, evening classes, or part-time classes?
No, Tuition Rewards can only be used for full time, undergraduate education beginning with the freshman year at a participating private college or university.

Can Tuition Rewards be used if my child transfers to a member college or university?
It's up to the school that he or she is transferring to. While there is no contractual obligation to the Tuition Rewards Program that would require that the school honor the rewards, most schools are willing to honor at least a portion of the rewards.

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, grandchild's, or other family member's sponsored student's education.

Can I ever "cash out" my Tuition Rewards account?
No. Tuition Rewards are Points and are never awarded in cash.

What happens if I sell my eligible investments?
You stop accumulating Tuition Reward 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.

I don't see any colleges of interest. My child is in 9th grade. Why should I participate?
Did you know that at public universities, according to a UCLA study, only 28% of incoming freshmen graduate in four years – versus 67% 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.

If I join SAGE now, while my child is in 9th grade, and 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 applies to, is accepted by, or has already matriculated to a college that is not participating in this program -- but subsequently decides to participate -- the college is under no obligation to honor his or her Tuition Rewards.

Is the tuition reduction taxable?
No. That's because with a scholarship or other form of reduced tuition, you're not receiving additional income. You're paying less for college. If you pay $25,000 for a car that has a list price of $30,000; there's no income tax on the $5,000 discount.

This sounds too good to be true. What's the catch?
The catch is that SAGE member schools are allowed to recruit the students whom you sponsor once the students reach 9th grade. So, your children are likely to receive some mail or email from the participating colleges and universities after they begin high school.

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