Awarding scholarships seems like a straightforward process, right? Collect the applications, find the most qualified student, then send the award. But if this process is so easy, why are most colleges and universities only spending a fraction of their available scholarship dollars? Disorganization, decentralization, and disconnection in scholarship administration leads to lack of scholarship fund utilization, students not receiving necessary aid to continue their education, and lack of stewardship efforts with major donors on campuses all over the country. As scholarships are now playing a larger role in student recruitment, retention and success efforts, campuses are working cross-functionality to make scholarships easier to access and to award. Creating a connected campus can streamline the administration of funds, award more students, and improve relationships with key donors.
Creating a connected campus means utilizing smart cloud technology, improving communication methods, and ensuring security of all data involved in scholarships.
Start with the Right Technology
It seems like there is a piece of technology for every process these days. While technology is an awesome way to make processes easier, it is important to ensure that these systems are integrated and configured in a way that improves communication among cross-functional teams and provides everyone with the information they need to get their job done. What does this mean for scholarships? Use a technology that everyone across campus can access and benefit from including:
- Central access to all scholarship available amounts, recent donor agreements, and current scholarship qualifications
- A single place for students to view and apply for all available scholarships on campus
- A central pool of qualified applicants for all administrators to choose from
- Access to verified data about students such as current GPA, area of study, and hometown
- Ability to review applications online and view the progress of reviewers in order to keep the awarding process on schedule
- Communication between administrators and stewardship staff of final award recipients
- Methods to communicate with award recipients that makes it easy for students to understand the necessary tasks to complete
Get Your Organization Aligned
Of course, even the best technology won’t benefit anyone unless everyone does not agree on how to use it. Cross-functional technology is best implemented with a clear understanding of how the process should work, how to use the information stored in the system and how to input important data that will improve communication with other departments. One of the best examples of this with regards to scholarships is to ensure that whoever is awarding scholarships designates each award recipient as soon as the award is made. Having a clear list of award recipients makes it very easy for those involved in stewardship efforts to reach out to students to collect thank-you letters or other information for stewardship reasons without having to wait for a large email or spreadsheet.
Keep Data Security Central
The most important component to creating a connected campus for scholarships and stewardship is data security. Scholarship applications and student records contain a significant amount of sensitive data that need to remain in the hands of the right people. Using secure technology that requires users to log in to access appropriate data is a great step away from the paper processes that exist on many campuses today, and that’s just a starting point. Using various user permissions within technology can make sure that the right people are seeing enough information to get their job done effectively, but student data remains secure. Looking for technology to support a variety of flexible user permissions is vital to creating a connected campus.
If you think your scholarship process is working, look closer. Ask those in other departments if they have the information to get their job done. Try to determine if all scholarship funds on campus are being awarded each year, or if money is left on the table. How can you put these tools in place to become a more connected campus?