Estate & Planned Giving

A Legacy Of Learning & Life Success

Be part of an inspiring movement to change lives and build strong communities.

Donald Elg, Mortarboard Society Member Since 2001Scholarship America is the largest provider of postsecondary academic scholarships in the United States. With more than half a century of expertise serving students in greatest need, we advocate for the best solutions and outcomes to help ensure their success.

We’re successful because of friends like you.

There are many ways to support deserving students’ college success and leave a lasting legacy. Scholarship America can apply your gift where it is needed most; you can designate it to one of our innovative education solutions; or you can create a custom scholarship program with the help of our program designers.

However you designate your support, you will transform the lives of struggling postsecondary students by providing a helping hand when they most need it. What a wonderful legacy of learning: to be an inspiring hero to students who will be our communities’ productive citizens and leaders of tomorrow.

All supporters who make a planned gift join Scholarship America’s esteemed Mortarboard Society (download the Mortarboard Society Commitment Form here).

Below, you’ll find details on a number of options for structuring your planned gift; you can  For personalized advice and answers to your questions, email or call our Development Office at or 800-537-4180.

Is Scholarship America in your will?

Please notify us if you have included Scholarship America in your will. We’d appreciate the opportunity to thank you for your generosity.

The official legal bequest language for Scholarship America is:

“I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Scholarship America (Tax ID #04-2296967), One Scholarship Way, Saint Peter, MN 56082, [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of asset/property] for its unrestricted use and purpose.”


Will or Living Trust

Making a bequest through a will or a living trust makes a statement about what matters most in your life, and ensures that your intentions are clearly expressed and will be followed by those administering your estate. You may create special funds in your name or in memory of loved ones that will provide for family, friends, and others while allowing you to keep your assets during your lifetime, and Scholarship America charitable bequests can be made in the form of property, a stated dollar amount, or a specified percentage of your estate. Besides listing Scholarship America in your will, you may also sign a memorandum of agreement that specifies precisely how your gift is to be used.


  • A designation in your will in which you name Scholarship America as a beneficiary. Gifts can be unrestricted or directed to support a specific program, such as Dollars for Scholars, Dreamkeepers, and the National Fund.


  • Retain use of all assets during lifetime.
  • Designate a percentage or residue of estate after family members benefit first.
  • Ensure that your favorite cause continues to receive your support for generations to come.
  • Offset tax obligations at death.
  • Qualify for membership in Scholarship America’s Mortarboard Society.

Retirement Plan Assets or Insurance

After providing for yourself and your family, you can use excess retirement funds to make a convenient and cost-effective charitable gift to Scholarship America.   It is very simple. Using the “beneficiary designation” for your qualified retirement plan account or IRA, you name Scholarship America to receive any remaining assets in the account. If left in your estate, retirement assets are subject to income as well as possible estate taxes. This makes them a poor asset to pass on to heirs, but an excellent asset to use for a charitable estate gift.

You may also wish to consider establishing a charitable remainder trust with retirement account assets. The trust would begin at your death and could provide an income for family members or others for their lives or a term of years.


  • A designation in which you name Scholarship America as a beneficiary.  Specific programs may be designated such as unrestricted support, National Fund, Dreamkeepers and Dollars for Scholars.


  • Very easy to do.
  • May designate a specific dollar amount, percentage or residual policy or plan after family members benefit first.
  • Receive an income tax deduction for cash value of the policy when donated.
  • Qualifies for membership with the Mortarboard Society.

Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts

The charitable remainder trust is similar to other types of trusts except that it has a charitable beneficiary. A grantor transfers property irrevocably to a trust and specifies how trust income and principal are to be distributed. Typically, gifts for charitable remainder trusts start at the $100,000 level and require a legal agreement.  The trust may be created to become effective during life or at death.

The charitable remainder annuity trust provides one or more individuals with fixed annual income for life. You receive a fixed percentage of the initial value of the assets placed in the trust. It is an ideal arrangement for donors who do not want their income stream tied to market performance. Unlike the gift annuity, annuity trust assets are invested and managed separately. The annuity trust can be established for more than two life times, and can be created for a specified term of up to 20 years.

You will be allowed an income tax deduction for the present value of the “remainder interest” in the trust. If you fund the trust with appreciated securities you have held more than one year, the value of the remainder interest will be computed from the fair market value of the property, and your annual deduction limit will be 30 percent of adjusted gross income. In addition, you avoid capital gains tax on the appreciation. If you fund the trust with cash, the value of the remainder interest will be computed from the amount of cash, and your annual deduction limit will be 50 percent of adjusted gross income.

To qualify for the charitable deduction for federal tax purposes, the charitable remainder trust must conform to the requirements.


  • Minimum gift of $100,000; most suitable for individuals 55 years old and older.


  • Income for life.
  • Fixed or variable payout rate.
  • No capital gains tax on appreciated gift.
  • Charitable remainder can become a permanent family endowment.
  • Income tax deduction.
  • Qualifies for membership in the Mortarboard Society.

Charitable Remainder Unitrust

The primary features of the charitable remainder unitrust are that it provides for the payment to the income beneficiary in an amount that may vary. The payment must equal a fixed percentage of the net fair market value of the trust assets valued annually. The grantor determines the fixed percentage upon creation of the charitable remainder unitrust. It must be at least 5%. Depending on your estate planning objectives, a choice may be made to emphasize the charitable deduction or the annual return. A charitable remainder unitrust is worth considering if you wish to provide yourself with a hedge against inflation. Charitable remainder unitrust assets are invested and managed separately. The annual payment to you and/or other beneficiaries is a specified percentage of the trust assets as opposed to a fixed amount. The trust assets are revalued annually and your income is adjusted accordingly. If the value goes up, so does the annual payment. You may add property to the trust at any time. Charitable remainder unitrusts can be for multiple lifetimes or for a term of up to twenty years. The age and minimum amount requirements for unitrusts are the same as for annuity trusts. In addition, tax benefits are roughly the same as those for the annuity trust, although the deductible charitable gift for a given size trust will be slightly different. You may make additions to a charitable remainder unitrust of any amount at any time.

Charitable Lead Trust

A charitable lead trust allows you to provide for a sequence of annual gift payments to the Scholarship America and have the assets transferred to your family in the future. This device reduces gift or estate taxes (and possibly gift and generation skipping transfer taxes if the ultimate distribution is to grandchildren or later generations). You decide how long payments to Scholarship America will be made and when distribution of the assets to your family will begin.


  • Provide an annual gift to Scholarship America for a term of years with a minimum gift of $100,000.


  • Perfect for individuals in high estate and tax brackets.
  • Charity benefits up front while remainder of gift is returned to donor or passed along to heirs.
  • Qualifies for membership in the Mortarboard Society.

Charitable Gift Annuity

A charitable gift annuity is one of the easiest and most popular ways to make a charitable gift and receive an annual income. You transfer cash or securities to Scholarship America, which pays a fixed annual amount to you and/or another beneficiary.

You also receive an immediate income tax deduction, based on the “remainder” value of your gift, i.e., the value of the property you transfer to the Scholarship America minus the present value of the annuity. In addition, you bypass part of the capital gains tax if appreciated property is used to fund the annuity.

An additional advantage of a gift annuity is that in most cases part of the annual income you receive will be a tax-free return of principal. The annuity rate and the amount of your deduction increases with the age of the annuitant(s), as of the time you establish the annuity. This makes the charitable gift annuity more attractive for senior donors.

Donors who want to defer payment benefits until a later date but want a current income tax deduction can establish a deferred gift annuity.


  • Minimum gift of $10,000 and minimum age of 65.


  • Income for life.
  • Fixed payments.
  • Portion of payments are usually tax deductible.
  • Rates can be higher than bank CDs.
  • Qualifies for membership in the Mortarboard Society.


When considering a gift to Scholarship America, you may want to designate your gift for an endowed fund in your name or in memory of a loved one. Endowments provide perpetual support. The principal of the gift is invested and the income is used as an enduring source of support. In this way, an endowment can dramatically increase the value of your contributions.


  • A minimum gift of $100,000 establishes a permanent fund for Scholarship America, for which you can name the program and set up special criteria (with some limitations).


  • Provides funding to designated beneficiary/beneficiaries, forever.
  • Annual distributions made from earnings.
  • Principal is restricted to a specific fund, such as General Support, Dollars for Scholars, Dreamkeepers, and the National Fund.