Scholarship Search | Everyone knows college is difficult to pay for, but as the price tag for four-year schools continues to rise, students are increasingly seeking out scholarships to bolster financial aid packages. Many students rely on external scholarships to ensure they don’t go too far into debt for their education. A huge number of funds exist, but they aren’t often advertised as well as they could be.
The scholarship search is hard
Outmoded scholarship management programs make it harder for students to get the funds they need. From the initial research to the application process, lack of communication and difficult procedures get in the way of accomplishing the task at hand. For instance, there is a lack of accurate communication about what funds are available and as a result, it can still be difficult for students to find the right scholarships. According to FinAid, only 40 percent of scholarship sponsors answer questions regarding the number and amount of awards given out in a previous year, which means scholarship search services often have to estimate the total amount of funds available. This means these services can sometimes be inaccurate about the number of scholarships listed in their databases. Others conflate the maximum award and average award amounts, which can be quite different.
In addition, long, paper-based application processes are often a deterrent to students because they are time-consuming and confusing. Because applicants have so many documents to keep in order, they end up starting applications and never finishing them. With all of these barriers in place, it’s amazing that students are still able to get scholarships at all. Luckily there are ways to help.
Invest in technology for process improvement
Companies are beginning to recognize the need for eliminating paper and making scholarship applications, review, and reporting more efficient. Some of these innovators are still students themselves. USA Today reported that a Drexel student had created Scholly, an app that helps students find scholarships more effectively. By plugging in your location, race, GPA, and major, applicants can locate scholarships they are eligible for within just a few minutes.
In an interview with the news source, Christopher Gray, founder, and CEO of Scholly, said that during his search, he often encountered scholarships that were just for freshmen. The app lets users eliminate scholarships they can’t qualify for, saving them a lot of extra time.
Another way that scholarship-granting organizations can better help students get access to the funds they need is by investing in scholarship management software. Such a program reduces the issues that students encounter when seeking funds. First of all, organizations can use an intelligent form creator that streamlines the process of inputting data by responding to certain answers and not bringing up future irrelevant fields. The time saved can be significant.
Perhaps most importantly, staff can log in to the system and see what stage applicants have reached in the application process. If they’re missing any crucial information or have stalled on the application, you can send an automated message to remind them to keep it up.
Use scholarship management software for better reporting
It’s important to keep track of how your funds are being spent. Not only do you have people to report to, but the information can help students in their searches for funding. A good software system can maintain all the relevant data from your scholarship delivery and make it easy to send it to your donors and anyone else who may need it. With better technology, you can free up a lot of time normally devoted to transferring data from one spreadsheet to another and also increase the accuracy of data reporting.