Robert Davis July 6th, 2022

Best Practices To Manage A Scholarship Program Easily

The effort involved in managing a scholarship is extensive, ranging from creating criteria for selection and recruiting applicants to analyzing entries and reporting results.

Administrators of scholarships always keep the needs of the students in mind. The objective is to encourage hard working students as much as possible with those scholarship grants. The entire scholarship administration procedure must be reviewed and streamlined to enhance the experience of the students who are the scholarships' primary beneficiaries. Let's look at some best practices modern scholarship managers use to answer your 'How to manage a scholarship program.'

How To Manage A Scholarship Program?

Here are the best practices you can use along with a top-rated scholarship management software like SmarterSelect to efficiently manage a scholarship program, target the right applicants, award the rewards, and so much more. 

Smart Select is a self-funded, profitable organization that assists individuals with the creation, management, analysis, application, and evaluation of online applications. This tool helps make the scholarship management program and application process easier to handle, manage, and evaluate. 

This, along with the following best practices, can help your scholarship program reach its intended applicants and attract worthy students. 

  1. Obtain funding and establish a budget

Without a pool of money to draw from, there is no scholarship.

Securing funding and creating a budget is a crucial first step in managing a scholarship fund. (We've written tips on establishing a scholarship fund.) You must decide up front whether you will manage the scholarship yourself or through a scholarship administration agency.

Directly managing the scholarship will naturally need a huge amount of resources from inside your organization, but you'll have complete control over how well it's managed. A significant benefit is that.

You can estimate how many students will receive the scholarship and make plans for the management of the scholarship monies by laying out a precise budget.

  1. Make a standout online Scholarship application form

The most important practice to follow is to make your institute's own standout online scholarship application form. Does your department or school have any distinctive values? 

To provide students the chance to explain why they are a good fit, make sure to include examples of these in the online application. Ask questions regarding how the core mission of your institution or certain subjects relate to the lifestyles of the applicants.

Long, cumbersome applications can be difficult for applicants to complete and much harder to sort through when it comes time to review the responses. Consider requiring interested candidates to upload files for essays and lengthy text questions. You can print out feedback and read them away from the computer more easily as a result.

  1. Establish your qualifying requirements and the procedure for applying for scholarships — Make it clear to whom you are serving.

Exceptional kids who are just one life-changing chance away from achievement are the foundation of your candidate pool. Give your team a chance to compare notes after you've given yourself some time to reflect on the types of people you want to draw to your program. 

Once your ideal candidate has been identified, think about how your application will aid in finding them and how you can make their experience rewarding.

The precise standards by which qualified candidates are found and ultimately suggested as scholarship recipients are known as the selection criteria. It is advised that you rank the eligibility criteria once you've determined what they are so that the scholarship recipient's profile can be readily understood.

When defining eligibility requirements for candidates for scholarships, many aspects must be taken into account, including financial need, achievement, geographic dispersion, and demographic traits.

  1. Decide the Award’s duration

You must choose whether the scholarship is a one-time prize or a revolving one. You might want to provide a maximum number of years a student can reapply for and be granted a renewal if the scholarship is renewable. 

You should think about whether or not it is crucial that a fresh scholarship be given out every year as you address this matter. Scholarship rules that allow for renewal typically call for the recipient to submit an application each year rather than allowing the scholarship to be automatically renewed.

  1. Set a deadline and solicit many candidates for your scholarship

Setting clear application deadlines is crucial because nobody likes being late. Make sure deadlines are clearly marked and think about utilizing other tools to remind participants as time runs out, regardless of whether your program is based on a rolling, annual, or other intervals of time. When deadlines are approaching, helpful online alerts like a clock ticking down in the application portal or email or text alerts can make a significant impact.

Next, come up with a plan for promoting your scholarship. Right today, everyone is online, especially students. Therefore, spread your message on the websites and apps where students are active.

  1. Create a timeline and method for program management to assist your team

You should have a project management strategy that is efficient and defined review schedules in place before applications begin to pour in. You can take help from project management tools in this regard to abide by the deadlines and maintain efficient workflow. 

Reviewers may access information, examine applications, and assess candidates all in one location with the help of an online scholarship administration system. 

Through a series of review steps, this enables reviewers to collaborate (and work remotely), saving your important business time.

  1. Fairly evaluate applications

Make sure you put policies in place during the review process that permit fair application review. Knowing that implicit prejudice exists will help you to combat this widespread issue.

By randomly assigning reviewers and enabling blind reviews, your scholarship management software can aid in ensuring a fair review procedure. To include a range of people in the selection debate, you can also establish a review panel. The most qualified candidates have the chance to move to the top of the list thanks to these fair assessment procedures.

  1. Select The Most Deserving Candidate

Recall the scholarship's goals and criteria for awarding it. As you look for the students most deserving of the scholarship, let those two principles serve as your compass. Additionally, by doing this, you can guarantee that each application is evaluated using the same criteria, which is crucial for equity.

Provide a personal touch when announcing the winners. A little bit makes a big difference, whether it's a genuine phone conversation from a supervisor or a direct email encouraging applicants to continue working hard.

Spending time at this stage of selecting winners will result in better applicants down the road unless you are handling piles of submissions.

  1. Do Not Forget To Evaluate Your Results

Software for managing scholarships offers non-profit organizations a rare chance to gather, examine, and contrast data. The power of the data, though, is in how you use it; gathering the data is just one aspect.

Personalized dashboards help to track progress and produce real-time reports for reporting both during and after the cycle. This information can serve as the catalyst for your scholarship program's improvement when combined with post-cycle in-depth analyses and conversations on what worked and what didn't.

Watch out for applications that are never submitted, and look for patterns in where applicants stopped applying so you may streamline the application process or explain any ambiguous questions for the following cycle. Look over your demographic information; is there a region you aren't reaching as effectively as you would like?

  1. Cooperate with other scholarship providers and pick their brains

Our list of practices to answer ‘How to manage a scholarship program?’ is incomplete without this step. 

Nobody is more familiar with the problems that scholarship providers face than another scholarship sponsor. Reach out to other organizations that operate locally or support causes that are similar to yours; you might be surprised at how eager they are to share their knowledge and lessons learned.

Scholarships are now essential for empowering the following generation of innovators and civic leaders, and your organization deserves the tools and resources necessary to serve as that first step.

Bottom Line

It is not necessary to start a non-profit organization to give scholarships for higher education. A scholarship or scholarship program for higher education can be started by anyone. This kind of scholarship program can be started by foundations, companies, community organizations, and even individuals or groups of individuals.

You might wish to think about setting up a scholarship program to be executed by your local community foundation, a particular college or university, or a scholarship administration agency as an alternative to developing a nonprofit organization to provide scholarships for higher education.

We hope this article answers your question ‘How to manage a scholarship program?’ Whatever you do, just remember the 10 practices we mentioned above and invest in a good scholarship management program to help you achieve your desired results. 

Robert Davis

Robert Davis is the Founder and President of SmarterSelect, a Dallas, TX based SaaS company that provides online application management services to scholarship, grant, and award providers such as foundations, universities, corporations, and associations.

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