How to Strengthen your Scholarship Process
Do you find that your scholarship process is outdated, difficult for students to navigate, and a challenge for you to manage? We hear these concerns a lot from our customers and have pulled together a few tips to help you streamline and strengthen your scholarship process to be the best it can be!
1. Align your Scholarship Filing Period
If your scholarship application is separate from your admissions application, consider synchronizing your scholarship priority application filing period with either your admission application priority filing period or the FAFSA priority filing period. You can then add scholarship information in your admissions and/or FAFSA communications and students will have one less deadline to remember.
2. Create One Location for all Scholarship Information
To provide clear direction for students, it’s important to consolidate all scholarship information in a single location. This includes the ability to advertise all campus and departmental awards, as well as external scholarships. An easy way to do this is to provide a single scholarship link on your website that provides access to an online scholarship platform where students can submit all of their applications, links to free, external scholarship search engines, information on how to avoid a scholarship scam, and information on your institutions awarding process so students know what to expect after they submit their application.
3. Make the Scholarship Application Easy to Find
In the same vein as our previous tip, you want the scholarship application to be easy to find. Students email inboxes are constantly overfilled. This means you cannot rely on e-mail alone to communicate scholarship information. It is important to communicate to students often and through a variety of mediums.
Below are a few examples of different ways you can communicate scholarship information to your students.
- Social Media – Utilize your institutions social media channels to get the word out about open applications.
- Direct e-mail notifications to all students encouraging them to apply for scholarships
- In-person Scholarship Workshops that give you the opportunity to provide more personalized assistance to students applying for scholarships. These could include tips on the application process and best practices for reference letters, etc.
- Provide the scholarship link in the student handbook
- Engage with professors on campus to share the word in their classes
- Share the scholarship link in the student newspaper
- Provide the scholarship link in the campus catalog
- Utilize electronic and traditional signage on campus to make students aware of open applications
4. Simplify the Application Process
In order to get the highest application rate, make the application easy for students to complete. This means students should be able to search for scholarships and complete their application on-line 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. This also means that students should not have to manually enter information that can be easily imported from your student information system such as Student ID, Major, GPA, SAT/ACT, etc. Using the right technology that links to your student information system streamlines the process for your students and gives your review committees confidence that their award decisions are being made based on current and accurate student data.
5. Use the Scholarship Process to Aid Recruitment Efforts
In order to ensure that incoming freshman students can incorporate scholarships into their decision making process, spend time communicating key processes and dates to incoming freshman and high school counselors in your service area.
Some key ways to do this include:
- Providing scholarship information during campus visits
- Coordinating with University Outreach to offer information, demos, and/or Scholarship Workshops at feeder high schools in the service region
- Providing promotional scholarship communications such as posters and bookmarks to the Principals and Senior Counselors at each high school in the service region
- Targeted scholarship communication to students who have applied for admission
Strengthening your scholarship process won’t happen overnight, but we hope that by using these tips, and the right technology, you will be on the right track to a much stronger and more efficient scholarship process.