USBC SMART program makes $7 million earning allocation; proposes policy revisions to deliver more scholarship funds to youth bowlers

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ARLINGTON, Texas
- The Scholarship Management and Account Reporting for Tenpins (SMART) program is making an investment earnings allocation of $7 million to provide additional scholarships for youth bowlers. The $7 million allocation is the largest investment earnings allocation in SMART history and will be designated as Unassigned funds for Providers to use for scholarships.

In addition to announcing the $7 million allocation for SMART Provider use, the USBC SMART Committee is proposing a series of policy changes designed to increase scholarship benefits for SMART Recipients. No policy changes are final, and all proposals will have a comment period until June 30.

The proposed policy revisions include the portion of future investment gains and expired scholarships to SMART Recipient accounts, adding bonus scholarships for those actively using SMART funds and creation of a new SMART Recipient grant program.

Proposed policy revisions for SMART Providers include requiring Providers use Unassigned funds received from SMART within two years.

"The SMART program was established to safeguard and manage the scholarships awarded to USBC Youth bowlers and has been successful in those goals with the fund growing to nearly $100 million," said Frank Wilkinson, chair of the USBC SMART Committee and the former president of USBC. "But we are seeing too small a percentage of the dollars in SMART actually being used by bowlers for their education. These policy revisions will provide more scholarships to youth bowlers, especially those actively using their SMART scholarships, so they can pursue their educational goals."

The SMART fund has grown from $39 million to more than $96 million since 2010. Earnings on investments allocations for Provider usage have increased as well, however many of those funds remain unassigned and unused.

In 2015, Unassigned funds were $4.7 million but have grown to more than $18 million today. While the SMART fund is approaching $100 million, each year Recipients only request about $5 million in scholarships annually. Data shows many Recipient scholarships are not used, expire and recycle and, based on an ongoing research project and SMART historical trends, USBC projects 40% of the SMART fund never will be used under the current policy.

Currently, when a USBC Youth athlete (Recipient) earns a scholarship in a competition, the event operator (Provider) deposits the funds in SMART and, when the Recipient attends college, he or she will request the funds be paid directly to the school. SMART places the largest portion of the scholarships in conservative securities, with remaining assets invested in a diversified portfolio expected to yield larger returns, and each year any investment earnings plus expired Recipient scholarships are available for Provider as Unassigned funds to be used for new scholarships.

The proposed policy revisions include splitting future allocations of investment gains and expired Recipient scholarships between new Unassigned funds for Providers use and added scholarship funds directly to Recipients.

The allocation to Recipients will send 50% of additional funds to active Recipients who have requested funds during the calendar year while 25% will be added to all Recipient accounts as new scholarships, with the percentage based on the amount in the account. The remaining 25% will go toward grants with the criteria, including eligibility, established by the SMART Oversight Committee.

The USBC SMART Committee also is seeking to have the annual expiration date of funds not used by Recipients be moved from the end of the year to Feb. 14, so those funds can be allocated with any possible income distribution. It also has proposed allowing Recipients, after they reach age 21 and before the funds expire, the ability to transfer their scholarship funds to another family member who meets the IRS definition of a 529 plan family member beneficiary. To qualify, transfer Recipients must have at least four (4) years of USBC bowling history and they may not surpass eight-years from their high school graduation date.