Private Scholarship Management Suggestions

You, your family, school, or organization have an idea to create a scholarship program to support students. This is wonderful way to assist students pay for educational expenses. In many cases the scholarship application requirements, application review process and how funds will be disbursed to the student’s college or university are topics which results in long hours of discussion to resolve. Following are some suggestions to make the process straightforward for the members of the scholarship committee.

Reconsider the Use of Standardized Test Scores for Award Decisions – Due to the current COVID crisis numerous colleges and universities have an optional SAT and/or ACT policy as part of the application process. Looking at the student’s high school transcript, Grade Point Average (GPA), letters of recommendation and resume will still allow for a full review of the student’s college potential.

Consider Relying Upon Federal Student Aid (FSA) Criteria – Many of the questions you may have about what would be a preferred enrollment status, the minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) to require for a renewal award, how to handle a student illnesses, dropping classes, academic challenges that might take place, all have built it answers from the rules and regulations related to Federal Student Aid (FSA). These are the requirements students must meet for funds they receive from completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Scholarship committee members can find a lot of the answers to these questions by reviewing a college’s financial aid web page. It would also be a good idea to schedule a conversation with a college’s financial aid administrator to ask for input on how your potential or current scholarship requirements could be aligned to best serve students.

Reconsider Your Definition of Financial Need and Tuition Only Awards – In many cases numerous government and private scholarships are designed to assist students that have a financial need based upon them qualifying for a Federal Pell Grant. Due to this dynamic many college financial aid administrators end up not being able to place all the funds on a student’s account because more than one fund is attempting to pay for exactly the same student expense.

An example is a student having three or four sources of funding all restricted to tuition and fees. This can have the opposite intention than what the government and private funding sources had in mind. I have seen numerous schools be required to not place the funds on the student’s account due to this restriction. If financial need was defined as any student that is not meeting their entire college Cost of Attendance, then the student would have more of a chance to benefit from the financial award. This would allow the funds to be used for tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses.

By Kenneth McGhee, Director DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG)