How to get the biggest bang from scholarship bucks

Financial aid offices are using technology to streamline the management of college scholarships, making it easier for students to find and apply for the money they need.

scholarship-admissions-techAt most colleges and universities, students have access to hundreds, if not thousands, of scholarships. Unfortunately, finding and applying for these scholarships can be a nightmare, with funds scattered across an institution’s schools and departments. As a result, some universities struggle to award all their scholarship funds, even as qualified students drop out for lack of tuition money.

In an effort to maximize the impact of their award programs, many financial aid offices are increasingly turning to scholarship-management tools for help.

“Back in 2010, just about every campus had a very manual, very decentralized process for awarding scholarships,” recalled Brandon Phipps, CEO of AcademicWorks, an Austin-based company that surveyed universities before developing its own cloud-based solution for managing scholarships. “From students’ perspectives, it was obviously very confusing for them to identify all the scholarships they might be eligible for.”

Today, hundreds of campuses utilize scholarship-management solutions like those from AcademicWorksWizeHive, and FluidReview. The need is probably most acute at large research institutions that might have as many as 5,000 different scholarship funds, siloed within individual colleges and each with different awarding criteria.

Colorado State University, with eight colleges and 31,000 students, is a perfect example of the challenges faced by major research universities.

(Next page: Why “needy child” systems need to go)