November 20, 2019

4 Compelling Reasons for an Online Scholarship Management System

An online scholarship management system can certainly save your organization time, but its benefits go far beyond that. Let's talk about the transformative value of moving your program online into an integrated platform.

Was your search for a scholarship management system prompted by a need for greater efficiency? That’s the most common reason we hear. Many of our clients are looking to reduce data entry, lessen the flood of emails, and stop the endless search for attachments.

This is certainly an excellent reason to invest in an online scholarship platform. However, we’d like to give you four more compelling reasons -- ones that can change the dynamic of your organization through accessibility, transparency, fairness, and impact. 

Reason #1 - An online platform is more accessible and appealing, encouraging a wider applicant pool

Naturally, you want a large, diverse, talented group of applicants for your scholarship. And even more importantly, you want to give everyone who’s qualified a chance to compete. There are two ways a scholarship management system can help you achieve these goals.

Ensuring accessibility

In 2018, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) expanded to require websites of government agencies, public higher education, public K-12 schools, and nonprofit organizations to be accessible for people with disabilities. A paper scholarship application or PDF form won’t give you the tools you need to ensure accessibility. However, an online scholarship management system can allow for screen readers, keyboard shortcuts, alternative image text, and other important features necessary to make your application ADA-friendly.

Creating a simple process

With millions of scholarship programs available, there are growing opportunities for aspiring college students to reduce the cost of their education. In many ways, you’re competing for the best applicants. With a streamlined scholarship application process that’s easy to navigate and understand, you’ll quickly rise to the top of the list. For example, students often seek out scholarships that integrate with Scholar Snapp. In any Scholar Snapp-enabled application, students are able to enter all their information once, and then “Snapp” that information into any other scholarship or admissions application. Make it easy and you’ll encourage more applicants.

Reason #2 - Scholarship management systems create process transparency and improve collaboration

An often overlooked benefit of scholarship management software is the ability to communicate more effectively, making the entire process more transparent. Let’s take a look at the applicant and reviewer perspectives.

For Scholarship Applicants

Sometimes, scholarship applicants feel like their application fell into a black hole. They submit and wait. Then, months later, they receive a letter stating they weren’t selected. How was the decision made? Could they have provided more information to improve their chances? Perhaps they would have applied to other scholarships if they knew they didn’t qualify or weren’t competitive.

In contrast, a scholarship management system gives the student an online account where they can check the status at any time. In addition, the software can send automated updates if anything is holding up their application, such as a delayed letter of recommendation. Administrators can also set up qualifying quizzes to make sure students don’t proceed unless they meet certain requirements. All these features give students a better sense of where they stand and more confidence in the scholarship program.

For Scholarship Reviewers

Since your review team is often working separately on their assigned set of scholarship applications, this can create a barrier to collaboration. If reviewers have questions or concerns, there’s often a long chain of emails or phone calls, so everyone on the team might not be privy to the discussion. 

With a scholarship management platform, each person can log into the reviewer portal and see all their assigned applications along with any messages from fellow reviewers or the administrator. In addition, they can add comments directly to the application, making it visible to the team. And equally important, reviewers can communicate with the applicant to clarify or discuss a part of their application -- all without leaving the scholarship management software.

Reason #3 - Administrator features ensure fair and balanced decisions

If there’s any question (valid or not) as to whether your organization is fair in its decision-making process, you’ll soon find your applicant pool shrinking. Here are some examples of how an online scholarship management system can help your organization demonstrate fairness.

Blind Reviews

To make sure your team evaluates applicants based solely on their skills and experience, an online system could blackout candidates’ names. You could also remove details like ethnic background, gender, education, age, and personal interests.

Diversity Dashboards

Pulling from the application data, you could create a dashboard to track and review your applicant list based on predetermined attributes, such as race, gender, LGBT status, veteran, and disabled identities. This could prompt you to market more to potential applicants in underserved areas, ensuring diversity in your scholarship program.

Customized Scorecards

Scholarship management software provides a neutral evaluation system that tallies the reviewers’ input and creates a weighted score. With numerous options to design the scorecard, your organization can create a system that gives you a fair result.

Reason #4- Comprehensive reports provide insights into the scholarship program’s effectiveness and impact

When your program information is in separate places -- some online, some on paper -- it’s nearly impossible to analyze the data. Although Excel can get you there eventually, it’s tough to generate meaningful reports quickly.

However, a scholarship management system gathers data from all aspects of your program, so you can build customized dashboards and reports that dynamically pull from the database. Imagine pushing a few buttons and seeing trends on demand. Not waiting until a yearly process where you evaluate the program. Your team can plan for challenges and take advantage of possibilities as they happen.

As you can see, saving time from scholarship management software is just the tip of the iceberg. Investing in an online platform can elevate your program in ways you may not have anticipated. A scholarship management system is more than an administrative tool; it’s an integral part of your program’s success.


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