What is a Scholarship Management System
A scholarship management system is a cloud-based software solution that helps funding organisations collect and review applications for financial assistance, research grants and other programs. They also assist in delivering this financial aid to students while allowing scholarship coordinators to generate detailed outcome reports.
The software is becoming increasingly popular in universities who award a range of funds, such as grants, scholarships, and prizes. Universities are eliminating a range of issues common in traditional scholarship management by adopting dedicated software solutions to manage these funding processes. At the same time, they are gaining deeper insights into student outcomes that just weren’t possible using manual or conventional desktop processes. All in one scholarship systems such as Enquire eliminate the need for scholarship administration teams to navigate between multiple applications. By bringing processes together, these data-driven solutions allow teams to get more done, faster, and more collaboratively.
If you manage scholarship funding, it’s important that you know the full range of benefits a scholarship management system provides, as well as the features to look for when adopting a solution for your organisation. It can help you decide on the direction to take as you begin to enhance your scholarship processes. After reading this blog you’ll have this knowledge, plus bonus tips to get more out of your scholarship programs, no matter how you manage them.
A scholarship management system generates more applications
A successful scholarship program requires a strong pool of applications. To maximise the quantity and quality of your scholarship applications, you’ll want to do the following.
Make your scholarship application gateway accessible
One of the major challenges administrators face in delivering scholarship funds is having their scholarships discovered by potential applicants. Online scholarship management software solves this issue by providing a web portal for students to sign into to search for scholarships. Communicate with students anywhere, anytime, with easy to navigate and visually appealing mobile applications, notifications, and alerts.
A major benefit of a web portal for both the student and administrator, is that this single sign on account will save all the general student data for later use. This includes their contact details, field of study and more. As students begin to apply for scholarships, this data will be pre-filled, making the process faster. On the backend of the scholarship management system a student record is created which will update each time a scholarship is applied for, resulting in reliable data making the review process easier for your team.
Promote and showcase scholarship alumni
If you’re looking to engage more students with your scholarship funds, consider recruiting a past recipient. By providing current students with a tangible example of how scholarship funds can impact their future careers, they are far more likely to apply.
The best channels to use this promotion style would be via social media or your scholarship management software’s internal notifications system. Scholarship software will allow your team to send bulk emails, notifications and alerts to students who have registered for an account. This is also a great way to retarget students who missed the cut last scholarship cycle.
Scholarship management software provides flexibility
The scholarship management process often requires a degree of adaptation. To generate the quantity and quality of applicants required for your programs to be a success, look for a scholarship management information system with these features.
Templates for new scholarship opportunities
With scholarship management tools you can pre-plan funding opportunities in system before they go live. This means one application form can power multiple scholarship programs, with only a few minor tweaks.
These templates are highly configurable to your requirements. Ask questions with dropdowns, free text, or checkboxes. You can also require students add documents such as their academic record or letters of recommendation. These documents will be saved within the scholarship management system, so you’ll never lose track of important attachments again. Another benefit of modernising your systems is cutting out redundant questions that only exist in your forms out of tradition. A good rule of thumb is to only ask questions that will be directly relevant to assessment, and nothing more.
Fully configurable eligibility and assessment criteria
A scholarship management information system also provides fully configurable eligibility and assessment criteria. This an important way to bake equity and fairness into your review processes. If you find an inundation of low-quality applicants to be a problem, consider adjusting these requirements to be more stringent. At a bare minimum you will want to consider asking for the following details to aid in your scholarship assessment:
- Demographic data
- Field of study or interest
- Financial need
- Whether or not they are a past recipient of this scholarship
A fully configurable scholarship management information system like Enquire will also allow you to adjust the open and close dates for your programs, even after they’re live. This can be a great way to receive additional applications if you’re not satisfied with your volume after the initial scholarship application window. Once you’re happy with the number of applications you’ve received and their standard, it’s time to award funds.
Students receive funds faster
Assessing scholarship applications can be a lengthy process, especially if you’re involving a range of assessors. To maximise the speed at which applications are assessed and awards are delivered to students, you’ll be looking for a scholarship management system to do the following.
Provide a logical workflow to your assessment
A best-in-class scholarship information system will also allow administrators to configure the review process. With Enquire, you can step this process out by reviewer, and have steps completed in parallel or one by one. This gives you the option to allow reviewers to engage with the responses of their peers, which may be beneficial if a particular reviewer is a subject matter expert, for example.
Workflows are accessible to reviewers outside of your organisation, who gain access using your external portal. Structuring your assessment using a logical flow is beneficial no matter the system you are using. Dedicated software, however, will allow you to review in bulk so that students receive their funds faster.
Engage students with Enquire’s communication features
As you conduct your scholarship reviews you may find that promising applicants have forgotten to attach key documents or have provided unclear responses. While Enquire uses mandatory fields and declaration checks to ensure key requirements are included in every application, we still can’t expect every application to be perfect.
With this in mind, Enquire offers tools to reengage students after they have submitted their applications. Scholarship update requests use comments and tags to request changes or clarifications to specific questions. By pinging students to complete these sections with notifications and alerts you’ll be able to expedite the review process and award funds faster.
Enquire even allows you to generate letters of acceptance and other documents from templates saved in the system. These documents can then be sent out and signed by students using comment-enabled workflows. Similar workflows can also be employed for reporting and assessment processes. Not only does this speed up theses processes, but it also adds an extra level of communication between staff and students – which can be helpful for Q&A and providing immediate feedback on student responses.
Get funds to students without delays
A final must-have scholarship management software feature is financial system integrations. By integrating with your current financial systems, Enquire makes your scholarship payment processing safe, secure and efficient. Bulk payments, scheduling and conditional payments make it easy to deliver one-off funding, establish multi-year milestones and everything in between.
To ensure complete confidence in your payment processes, look for a scholarship management system which allows you to evaluate the impact of your payments.
Scholarship performance evaluation is easier
When it comes to reporting on the outcomes of your scholarship programs, a specialised scholarship information system does the heavy lifting for you. Here’s how.
Flexible and mobile outcome reporting
Using Enquire’s mobile friendly portal your scholarship recipients will have no trouble completing their outcome reports. Like the rest of Enquire’s forms and processes, these reports are incredibly configurable. Set dates, request program-specific information, and link your reporting indicators to student outcomes to enhance your program level reporting.
Reporting workflows enable in-system Q&A and feedback against reporting items, enabling recipients to complete their reports quickly and hassle-free. Again, Enquire allows these reports to be sent for amendment or saved as a PDF for offline sharing.
Enquire also allows scholarship administrators to review the progress of all in-flight client reports, to easily track this process at a glance. Once reports are complete, you can use the captured data to influence your conditional payments.
Use system data to enforce conditional payments
A common condition of multi-instalment scholarships is that students maintain a particular grade point average or other indicator of continued performance. When looking for a scholarship management system, prioritise options that make it easy to track and store student performance data.
With Enquire for instance, reporting indicators can be configured and tracked across your institution or specific scholarship programs. This makes it possible to tie payment milestones to student performance. If you have this kind of information on hand, such as through your school’s academic records database, you can import these records into your scholarship management system to avoid receiving false or erroneous information from your students.
Finally, let’s cover off how a software solution for scholarship management enables you to make better decisions.
Scholarship management systems enable data to drive decision making
As you can now see, scholarship management software solutions capture a lot of data throughout the lifecycle of a program. With everything from application and assessment data, right through to the information collected in your scholarship outcome reports. Here’s what you can do with that information.
Generate configurable reports for your stakeholders
The completeness of the data you will have in your system at the end of a scholarship round will allow you to create distinct and meaningful reports for all stakeholders. Enquire allows you to search and filter funding and outcome data from across your scholarship portfolio to provide your funders with key insights that illustrate the real benefit their funding had on student success and research objectives. This direct and personalised reporting massively enhances the likelihood of future funding from your donors.
You can also configure indicators to measure key diversity and inclusion metrics across your portfolio. In fact, the configurability of indicators in Enquire gives you complete control over the outcomes you choose to track and manage throughout your scholarship management. Learn more about establishing reporting indicators in Enquire here.
To Recap: Here’s why you need a scholarship management system
- Get more, and higher quality, scholarship applications.
- Experience more flexibility throughout your scholarship programs.
- Award and deliver scholarship funds faster and fairer.
- Track student performance and scholarship performance better.
- Report on the outcome of your scholarship programs with complete control.
Try the leading scholarship management system for yourself today
Enquire is a robust and easy to use scholarship management system that provides you with all the tools you need to ensure your recipients exceed.