2 years ago I helped our elementary school file for 501(c)3 status - and we got it thanks to the help of these boards and the PTOToday Startup Guide. Well, now I'm doing it again for the high school - it's much easier the second time around.
The only problem I've run into is on page 8, Part VIII question 22: Do you or will you provide scholarships to individuals? If "Yes", complete Schedule H. Our group is in the process of offering a scholarship to a graduating senior ($200) for the first time but nothing has been done about it yet. Should we just scrap the scholarship idea altogether? Answer yes and then fill in Schedule H (and is there help for filling in this form)? Or since we haven't done anything about it yet, just answer "No" since technically we don't currently offer a scholarship?
Our PTO decided to stay out of the scholarship business (not a big deal at the elementary level, but we do have some tutoring where we were considering it). If you think you might get into it, then you really ought to fill Form 1023 out correctly, or else you'll probably need to file some amended report to the IRS later.
I think the IRS just wants to see a good policy in place to prevent conflict of interest: ie, that the officers' kids don't get automatic scholarships, or donors who give money to the PTO (tax-deductible) and have it funneled right to their kids' tuition. If you haven't thought about these potential issues, it's probably a good idea to do so.
Looking at schedule H, I'd go ahead and complete it, stating as future plans. It's all narrative and looks easy enough to create.
Plus thinking through these questions will help you solidify some of the processes you need to consider anyway.
If you need help, post here and we'll put our heads together.
I chaired the Scholarship committee for our high school PTA a couple years ago, so I have an idea of policies. For instance, even though the scholarship is awarded in the spring, the organization doesn't pay it out until after the person is registered the next fall. I think they have to show proof of payment of tuition.
I encourage your group to offer PTO sponsored scholarships for your graduating seniors. Our PTO has awarded scholarships since the school opened in 2000. We now budget 10 for $1000 each, however, we also collect additional donations specifically for the scholarships. (it's an option on our membership form) Last year almost $3000 donations came in, so that we rounded up at the end of the year and awarded a record 13. It's something that we're proud of. One of the most critical pieces to this is that parents have absolutely no say in the award process. We set scholarship guidelines, with eligibility requirements, provide the application and teacher recommendation forms. Our college counselor forms a scholarship committee made up of teachers, staff and administrators--no parents! We basically provide paperwork and the money. We revamped some of our forms last year, and I'd be happy to share any of it with you. FYI, there were two (that I know of) PTO officers, including the prez (me), whose kids applied for and did NOT win scholarships.
Unfortunately, I can't help you with the IRS form, since that was before my time. However, when I worked on the 501(3)(c) application for our middle school booster club, I found the folks on the phones at the IRS really nice and helpful. I'm kind of going on and on, but our "PTO Spirit Scholarship" is one of the things we're known for and are really proud of.