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Publication 557

Educational Organizations and Private Schools(p24)

If your organization wants to obtain recognition of exemption as an educational organization, you must submit complete information as to how your organization carries on or plans to carry on its educational activities, such as by conducting a school, by panels, discussions, lectures, forums, radio and television programs, or through various cultural media such as museums, symphony orchestras, or art exhibits. In each instance, you must explain by whom and where these activities are or will be conducted and the amount of admission fees, if any. You must submit a copy of the pertinent contracts, agreements, publications, programs, etc.
If you are organized to conduct a school, you must submit full information regarding your tuition charges, number of faculty members, number of full-time and part-time students enrolled, courses of study and degrees conferred, together with a copy of your school catalog. See also Private Schools, discussed later.

Educational Organizations(p25)

The term educational relates to:
  1. The instruction or training of individuals for the purpose of improving or developing their capabilities, or
  2. The instruction of the public on subjects useful to individuals and beneficial to the community.

Advocacy of a position.(p25)

Advocacy of a particular position or viewpoint may be educational if there is a sufficiently full and fair exposition of pertinent facts to permit an individual or the public to form an independent opinion or conclusion. The mere presentation of unsupported opinion isn't educational.
Method not educational.(p25)
The method used by an organization to develop and present its views is a factor in determining if an organization qualifies as educational within the meaning of section 501(c)(3). The following factors may indicate that the method isn't educational.
  1. The presentation of viewpoints unsupported by facts is a significant part of the organization's communications.
  2. The facts that purport to support the viewpoint are distorted.
  3. The organization's presentations make substantial use of inflammatory and disparaging terms and express conclusions more on the basis of emotion than of objective evaluations.
  4. The approach used isn't aimed at developing an understanding on the part of the audience because it doesn't consider their background or training.
Exceptional circumstances, however, may exist where an organization's advocacy may be educational even if one or more of the factors listed above are present.

Qualifying organizations.(p25)

The following types of organizations may qualify as educational:
  1. An organization, such as a primary or secondary school, a college, or a professional or trade school, that has a regularly scheduled curriculum, a regular faculty, and a regularly enrolled student body in attendance at a place where the educational activities are regularly carried on,
  2. An organization whose activities consist of conducting public discussion groups, forums, panels, lectures, or other similar programs,
  3. An organization that presents a course of instruction by correspondence or through the use of television or radio,
  4. A museum, zoo, planetarium, symphony orchestra, or other similar organization,
  5. A nonprofit children's day-care center, and
  6. A credit counseling organization.
College book stores, cafeterias, restaurants, etc.(p25)
These and other on-campus organizations should submit information to show that they are controlled by and operated for the convenience of the faculty and student body or by whom they are controlled and whom they serve.
Alumni association.(p25)
An alumni association should establish that it is organized to promote the welfare of the university with which it is affiliated, is subject to the control of the university as to its policies and destination of funds, and is operated as an integral part of the university or is otherwise organized to promote the welfare of the college or university. If your association doesn't have these characteristics, it may still be exempt as a social club if it meets the requirements described in chapter 4, under 501(c)(7) - Social and Recreation Clubs.
Athletic organization.(p25)
This type of organization must submit evidence that it is engaged in activities such as directing and controlling interscholastic athletic competitions, conducting tournaments, and prescribing eligibility rules for contestants. If it isn't so engaged, your organization may be exempt as a social club described in chapter 4. Raising funds to be used for travel and other activities to interview and persuade prospective students with outstanding athletic ability to attend a particular university doesn't show an exempt purpose. If your organization isn't exempt as an educational organization, see Amateur Athletic Organizations, later in this chapter.

Private Schools(p25)

Every private school filing an application for recognition of tax-exempt status must supply the IRS (on Schedule B, Form 1023) with the following information.
  1. The racial composition of the student body, and of the faculty and administrative staff, as of the current academic year. (This information also must be projected, so far as may be feasible, for the next academic year.)
  2. The amount of scholarship and loan funds, if any, awarded to students enrolled and the racial composition of students who have received the awards.
  3. A list of the school's incorporators, founders, board members, and donors of land or buildings, whether individuals or organizations.
  4. A statement indicating whether any of the organizations described in item (3) above have an objective of maintaining segregated public or private school education at the time the application is filed and, if so, whether any of the individuals described in item (3) are officers or active members of those organizations at the time the application is filed.
  5. The public school district and county in which the school is located.

How to determine racial composition.(p25)

The racial composition of the student body, faculty, and administrative staff can be an estimate based on the best information readily available to the school, without requiring student applicants, students, faculty, or administrative staff to submit to the school information that the school otherwise doesn't require. Nevertheless, a statement of the method by which the racial composition was determined must be supplied. The identity of individual students or members of the faculty and administrative staff shouldn't be included with this information.
A school that is a state or municipal instrumentality (see Instrumentalities, near the beginning of this chapter), whether or not it qualifies for exemption under section 501(c)(3), isn't considered to be a private school for purposes of the following discussion.

Racially Nondiscriminatory Policy(p25)

To qualify as an organization exempt from federal income tax, a private school must include a statement in its charter, bylaws, or other governing instrument, or in a resolution of its governing body, that it has a racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students and that it doesn't discriminate against applicants and students on the basis of race, color, or national or ethnic origin. Also, the school must circulate information that clearly states the school's admission policies. A racially nondiscriminatory policy toward students means that the school admits the students of any race to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at that school and that the school doesn't discriminate on the basis of race in administering its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
The IRS considers discrimination on the basis of race to include discrimination on the basis of color or national or ethnic origin.
The existence of a racially discriminatory policy with respect to the employment of faculty and administrative staff is indicative of a racially discriminatory policy as to students. Conversely, the absence of racial discrimination in the employment of faculty and administrative staff is indicative of a racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students.
A policy of a school that favors racial minority groups with respect to admissions, facilities and programs, and financial assistance isn't discrimination on the basis of race when the purpose and effect of this policy is to promote establishing and maintaining the school's nondiscriminatory policy.
A school that selects students on the basis of membership in a religious denomination or unit isn't discriminating if membership in the denomination or unit is open to all on a racially nondiscriminatory basis.

Policy statement.(p26)

The school must include a statement of its racially nondiscriminatory policy in all its brochures and catalogs dealing with student admissions, programs, and scholarships. Also, the school must include a reference to its racially nondiscriminatory policy in other written advertising that it uses to inform prospective students of its programs.

Publicity requirement.(p26)

The school must make its racially nondiscriminatory policy known to all segments of the general community served by the school. Selective communication of a racially nondiscriminatory policy that a school provides solely to leaders of racial groups won't be considered an effective means of communication to make the policy known to all segments of the community. To satisfy this requirement, the school must use one of the following two methods.
Method one.(p26)
The school can publish a notice of its racially nondiscriminatory policy in a newspaper of general circulation that serves all racial segments of the community. Such publication must be repeated at least once annually during the period of the school's solicitation for students or, in the absence of a solicitation program, during the school's registration period. When more than one community is served by a school, the school can publish the notice in those newspapers that are reasonably likely to be read by all racial segments in the communities that the school serves.
If this method is used, the notice must meet the following printing requirements.
  1. It must appear in a section of the newspaper likely to be read by prospective students and their families.
  2. It must occupy at least 3 column inches.
  3. It must have its title printed in at least 12 point bold face type.
  4. It must have the remaining text printed in at least 8 point type.
The following is an acceptable example of the notice:
 The M School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It doesn't discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.  
Method two.(p26)
The school can use the broadcast media to publicize its racially nondiscriminatory policy if this use makes the policy known to all segments of the general community the school serves. If the school uses this method, it must provide documentation showing that the means by which this policy was communicated to all segments of the general community was reasonably expected to be effective. In this case, appropriate documentation would include copies of the tapes or scripts used and records showing that there was an adequate number of announcements. The documentation also would include proof that these announcements were made during hours when they were likely to be communicated to all segments of the general community, that they were long enough to convey the message clearly, and that they were broadcast on radio or television stations likely to be listened to by substantial numbers of members of all racial segments of the general community. Announcements must be made during the period of the school's solicitation for students or, in the absence of a solicitation program, during the school's registration period.
The publicity requirements won't apply in the following situations.
The school can demonstrate that it follows a racially nondiscriminatory policy either by showing that it currently enrolls students of racial minority groups in meaningful numbers or, except for local community schools, when minority students aren't enrolled in meaningful numbers, that its promotional activities and recruiting efforts in each geographic area were reasonably designed to inform students of all racial segments in the general communities within the area of the availability of the school. The question as to whether a school demonstrates such a policy satisfactorily will be determined on the basis of the facts and circumstances of each case.
The IRS recognizes that the failure by a school drawing its students from local communities to enroll racial minority group students may not necessarily indicate the absence of a racially nondiscriminatory policy when there are relatively few or no such students in these communities. Actual enrollment is, however, a meaningful indication of a racially nondiscriminatory policy in a community in which a public school or schools became subject to a desegregation order of a federal court or are otherwise expressly obligated to implement a desegregation plan under the terms of any written contract or other commitment to which any federal agency was a party.
The IRS encourages schools to satisfy the publicity requirement by using either of the methods described earlier, even though a school considers itself to be within one of the Exceptions. The IRS believes that these publicity requirements are the most effective methods to make known a school's racially nondiscriminatory policy. In this regard, it is each school's responsibility to determine whether either of the exceptions applies. Such responsibility will prepare the school, if it is audited by the IRS, to demonstrate that the failure to publish its racially nondiscriminatory policy in accordance with either one of the publicity requirements was justified by one of the exceptions. Also, a school must be prepared to demonstrate that it has publicly disavowed or repudiated any statements purported to have been made on its behalf (after November 6, 1975) that are contrary to its publicity of a racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students, to the extent that the school or its principal official was aware of these statements.

Facilities and programs.(p26)

A school must be able to show that all of its programs and facilities are operated in a racially nondiscriminatory manner.

Scholarship and loan programs.(p26)

As a general rule, all scholarship or other comparable benefits obtainable at the school must be offered on a racially nondiscriminatory basis. This must be known throughout the general community being served by the school and should be referred to in its publicity. Financial assistance programs, as well as scholarships and loans made under financial assistance programs, that favor members of one or more racial minority groups and that don't significantly detract from or are designed to promote a school's racially nondiscriminatory policy won't adversely affect the school's exempt status.


An individual authorized to take official action on behalf of a school that claims to be racially nondiscriminatory as to students must certify annually, under penalties of perjury, on Schedule E (Form 990 or 990-EZ) or Form 5578, Annual Certification of Racial Nondiscrimination for a Private School Exempt From Federal Income Tax, whichever applies, that to the best of his or her knowledge and belief the school has satisfied all requirements that apply, as previously explained.
Failure to comply with the guidelines ordinarily will result in the proposed revocation of the exempt status of a school.
Where Refund
Recordkeeping requirements. With certain exceptions, given later, each exempt private school must maintain the following records for a minimum period of 3 years, beginning with the year after the year of compilation or acquisition.
  1. Records indicating the racial composition of the student body, faculty, and administrative staff for each academic year.
  2. Records sufficient to document that scholarship and other financial assistance is awarded on a racially nondiscriminatory basis.
  3. Copies of all materials used by or on behalf of the school to solicit contributions.
  4. Copies of all brochures, catalogs, and advertising dealing with student admissions, programs, and scholarships. (Schools advertising nationally or in a large geographic segment or segments of the United States need only maintain a record sufficient to indicate when and in what publications their advertisements were placed.)
The racial composition of the student body, faculty, and administrative staff can be determined in the same manner as that described at the beginning of this section. However, a school can't discontinue maintaining a system of records that reflect the racial composition of its students, faculty, and administrative staff used on November 6, 1975, unless it substitutes a different system that compiles substantially the same information, without advance approval of the IRS.
The IRS doesn't require that a school release any personally identifiable records or personal information except in accordance with the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974. Similarly, the IRS doesn't require a school to keep records prohibited under state or federal law.
The school doesn't have to independently maintain these records for IRS use if both of the following are true.
  1. Substantially the same information has been included in a report or reports filed with an agency or agencies of federal, state, or local governments, and this information is current within 1 year.
  2. The school maintains copies of these reports from which this information is readily obtainable.
If these reports don't include all of the information required, as discussed earlier, records providing such remaining information must be maintained by the school for IRS use.
Failure to maintain records.(p27)
Failure to maintain or to produce the required records and information, upon proper request, will create a presumption that the organization has failed to comply with these guidelines.