With the ever-increasing cost of higher education and record student debt, scholarships have become a key factor in student selection of a college or university. According to the U.S. Department of Education, over $46 billion of scholarships is awarded to prospective students each year. Although the number of scholarship awards and demand for scholarship aid from students has increased, campuses are still awarding scholarships using a variety of disparate paper processes and spreadsheets that are difficult for staff to administer and for students to understand. This manual process often results in scholarships being awarded incorrectly or not at all, while preventing donors from receiving the recognition they deserve. In order to eliminate these issues, AcademicWorks had released the first comprehensive and integrated scholarship management solution for colleges and universities in 2010. The Academic- Works solution allows students to apply for all awards using one streamlined application process, eliminating many time-consuming tasks for administrators, while improving reporting, compliance, and stewardship. The solution even helps colleges and universities standardize their donor recognition processes by creating donor profile pages, so applicants can learn more about individuals sponsoring their scholarship award. “Our solution combines a nightly import of key student record data with information gathered via a configurable scholarship application to automatically match students against all available scholarship funds,” says Brandon Phipps, CEO of AcademicWorks. He further states, “We allow clients to create one centralized solution for all of their scholarship awarding activities, which enables them to use those funds more strategically.” AcademicWorks solution also ensures that students are considered for every scholarship for which they are eligible, which helps improve fund utilization.
We allow clients to create one centralized solution for all of their scholarship awarding activities, which enables them to use those funds more strategically
Brandon Phipps, CEOThe company delivers a platform that is easy-to-use, intuitive, and uses a campuses existing authentication solution for user access. AcademicWorks is cloud hosted allowing for the system to dynamically scale for the largest institutions in the country. “Our solution leverages cloud computing to process millions of data points to match students against hundreds of thousands of scholarship funds,” says Phipps. The platform also offers exceptional flexibility, allowing clients to have different deadline dates, application requirements, reviewers and administrators for their various scholarship funds, which helps facilitate campus-wide adoption.
Over 400 colleges, universities and foundations have improved their process using AcademicWorks. One illustration would be the College of Brockport, which went live with AcademicWorks in the winter of 2011. Before Academic- Works, Brockport used to receive 350 paper applications for scholarships, which were photocopied and sent to various review committees across campus. This whole process was very time-consuming for both reviewers and administrators. After completing AcademicWorks’ 4-month implementation process, the campus received overwhelmingly positive feedback from applicants that the process was both easy and less time-consuming. The campus also saw a 300 percent increase in the number of applications received.
AcademicWorks is continually working to simplify the process so financial aid and admissions can better leverage donor funded scholarships to attract and retain the best students. “We continue to look for ways to make the awarding process more efficient for our clients, while helping them continue to improve donor engagement”, concludes Phipps.