4 Major Challenges of Scholarship Matching For Staff and Students (And How To Fix It)
It’s an understatement to say that managing scholarship programs can be tedious and time-consuming, not just for administrators of the programs, but for applicants too. When it comes to the process of matching the right applicants with the right awards based on their academic merit, experience, and interests, there are plenty of challenges every step of the way.
In this blog post, we sit down with Rachael Sloat, SmartSimple’s Research Analyst to take a deeper dive into the four common challenges that get in the way of a streamlined award matching process, and how to solve them.
Here are 4 major challenges of award matching for staff.
Wasted administrative hours
Too much valuable time is lost in a manual process of matching applicants with available awards. "The most administrative heavy task is cross-referencing people's suitability,” says Rachael Sloat. Matching the right applicant with the right scholarship opportunity often leads to hours and hours of “manually pulling lists of all students in the department and entering them into spreadsheets to check through them for their eligibility,” continues Sloat.
How to fix it: With SmartSimple’s Award Matching tool in our comprehensive Scholarship Management system, administrators can quickly and efficiently find the most suitable candidates for an award. “SmartSimple’s Award Matching tool allows staff to filter the candidate pool based on their award criteria and find the most qualified people,” says Rachael Sloat. This process matches applicants' criteria based profile against the award repository to return highly personalized and relevant results.
Information needed is all over the place
Not only is applicant information gathered from different sources (Registrar’s office, emails, phone calls, etc.), data throughout the entire matching process are often housed in disparate programs, including Excel spreadsheets and various CRM systems. This process often requires training on each of the different platforms and becomes time-consuming bouncing between windows and programs to get a complete scope and view of the numbers needed.
How to fix it: “Applicants can maintain a robust profile in SmartSimple’s Scholarship Management system that stores their educational, financial and even personal interests,” says Sloat. This information is all housed in one centralized platform and can be easily reported through SmartSimple’s system.
Human error in data entry
When data is entered manually (i.e. retyping, copy-pasting, etc.) from disparate sources, this can lead to mistakes in entry. A candidate’s chances of qualifying for an award opportunity can be shifted with a missed stroke of a key.
How to fix it: All applicant profiles in SmartSimple are populated with information directly pulled from your organization's registrar office and what the applicant has provided themselves. Administrators can confidently assess the information in front of them knowing it’s accurate.
Low application rates
Promoting scholarship and award opportunities to maximize program funds can be a time-consuming process. If your organization has hundreds of awards, how can you ensure that the right applicants are aware of the opportunities available based on their academic merit and interests?
How to fix it: Scholarship administrators can choose to have/easily set up applicant portals to be updated with current and upcoming award opportunities that candidates can access on their dashboards once they’re registered. Instead of spending the time to promote underutilized opportunities, the Award Matching tool automatically alerts candidates of new opportunities that are a fit as they arise.
Here are 4 major challenges of award matching for students
Overwhelmed by the number of awards that aren't applicable
Searching for the right award opportunity to apply for can be confusing, time-consuming and frustrating. Especially when starting out early in the scholarship or award application process, it can feel like finding a needle in the haystack.
How to fix it: When applying for scholarships, the search for opportunities is simplified and becomes a more efficient process through a platform that uses an Award Matching tool. Lists of qualified scholarships are automatically created and sent straight to the applicant, saving hours of time and energy otherwise they in invest in searching for the right opportunities.
Repetitive process of finding appropriate awards they qualify for
Scholarships can be integral in affording the high cost of higher education, especially for students who come from lower-income backgrounds. And time is of the essence. Yet, much of the process is not only searching for the right award and scholarship provider but, continuously starting over and repetitively entering their qualifications into different application forms.
How to fix it: When working in one centralized platform, candidates can apply for every scholarship award matched with them with a simple click of a button, never having to enter their information again and again.
Missing out on scholarship opportunities
Using standard search tools is tedious and if your applicants don’t know which academic interests to use as the search criteria they can easily miss out on those highly specific and unique award opportunities.
How to fix it: “By having every candidate maintain their own profile containing their unique skills and attributes, the Award Matching tool can instantly cross-reference these elements against the defined eligibility of each award in the repository. Applicants don’t even have to think about what to search for, the Award Matching tool uses their personal profile and does the work for them,” says Sloat.
In milliseconds, SmartSimple checks each award to determine if the applicant has any of the skills or qualifications required. The applicant is then left with a simplified list of awards ranked based on their overall suitability.
Too much time spent trying different search parameters
Scholarship applicants’ time is bogged down with having to find specific words to filter their searches for relevant scholarship opportunities. This is a tedious process that has to be entered repeatedly.
How to fix it: With SmartSimple’s Award Matching feature applicants have a higher chance of receiving the scholarship and award funding that they deserve. “This time-saving feature makes searching for an award opportunity effortless for candidates,” states Sloat. With a click of a button, an applicant can generate a list of award opportunities all ranked based on their eligibility (minimum GPA, field of study, gender, etc.). The more attributes they contained in their profile, the more points the system can use to match with.
There is no limit to the number of criteria points you can use to filter your candidates. In fact, the more criteria you use – the more specific your results will be. For example, if a candidate has a high GPA in a specific academic field, these criteria points help the award matching process be more specific. You can even add a weight system to your criteria so that certain candidate attributes rank higher than others in the matching process.