Best Practices for Scholarship Administration


  • Award scholarships with the least administrative overhead possible
  • Identify the best possible recipient / scholarship match
  • Retain unit flexibility to meet strategic goals
  • U-wide best practices can increase consistency and efficiency

Use Cases

Use case : Selecting new freshmen for scholarships

Best Practice: Work with the Office of Admissions

  • Coordinate packages and communications with incoming freshmen
  • Menu of partnership options
    • Can help identify candidates using both quantitative and qualitative methods (via Scholarship Selector and via their qualitative connections with candidates.) Scholarship admins use these to make selections.
    • Can help by making selections based on criteria you develop.
    • Looking to work with units to best leverage scholarship funds to meet recruitment and student selection goals.
  • Contact person: Keri Zweig Risic ( in the Office of Admissions.

Use case : The memorandem of agreement (MOA) allows selection based on quantitative data, and strategy is to award the neediest or highest achieving student who qualifies.

Best Practice: Use the Scholarship Selector (UM Report) to identify eligible students.

  • Administrator can use this to identify a specific student or set of students to award.
  • Reduces overhead by cutting out the application review completely.
  • Maximizing the number of scholarships awarded via quantitative methods saves resources so that qualititive review is more efficient and effective.
  • Award a % of your scholarships this way and save overhead by pulling these students out of your review pool.
  • If your initial group of students is over 3000 (Selector is limited to 3000 rows), contact Dianne Danov, who can help you with a custom query in DW.
  • Contact person: Dianne Danov ( in the Office of Student Finance (For one on one training or more information.)

Use case : The MOA allows selection based on quantitative data, and strategy is to avoid turning down / disappointing highly qualified students.

Best Practice: Use the Scholarship Selector (UM Report) to identify eligible students.

  • Helps administrators identify eligible students and award them without disappointing other excellent students by having them apply and not receive a scholarship.

Use case : Promoting scholarships to continuing students

Best Practice: Make sure descriptions and criteria are entered into the PeopleSoft? UM Promotional Scholarship screens and available for students to search.

  • Link existing management systems with a common data format (CLA / Carlson)
  • Enter data directly into PS (Most other units.)
  • Develop customized criteria to target the best possible matches.
  • Use the Scholarship Selector to help target appropriate criteria. By sorting the Selector output you can see how changing the scholarship criteria on your Promotional Scholarship expands or contracts the pool of students to whom it is being promoted.
  • Contact Nate Rosckes or the OSF scholarship team at for UM Promotional Scholarship access.

Use case : MOA requires selection based on an application (needs qualitative review)

Best Practice:

  • Pre-screen applications based on quantitative data
    • Use Scholarship Student Selector, other UM Reports, or existing collegiate tools to pull together appropriate information on your applicants.
    • Sort applicants based on program /plan, GPA, credit load, financial need, and /or degree progress so that you are reviewing only students that meet the base awarding criteria for your scholarships. This way you can identify the highest intersection of merit and need before starting to incorporate other criteria into your review.
  • Use a limited number of checkboxes or something similar to allow students to self-identify as candidates for "hard to award" scholarships.
  • Review qualitative data for students that meet base awarding criteria. Spend more time on students that are a likely fit.
  • Only collect qualitative data that helps making awarding decisions.
    • Use focused, clear language to ask for exactly the information that will help decision-making.
    • Place a limit on the length of qualitative responses (Short answer or short essay.)
    • Consider asking for a list of pertinent activities instead of a narrative.
    • Look for a simple scan-readable format. Think about your reviewers as well as the applicants.
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis on your qualitative review components. As long as you are following the MOA it is OK to change the specific qualitative review components.
    • Don't spend as much staff time (and, therefore, money) selecting applicants as the scholarship itself is worth. The goal is to identify the best eligible candidates in the most efficient manner.
    • Eliminate the requirement for things like recommendations, interviews, and resumes unless those components are deemed essential to identify strong candidates.
    • Think carefully about incorporating any Student Development Outcomes into the scholarship process. That goal should be weighed against the cost of review. See use case below for more details.
  • Design review mechanisms to ease the burden of review.
    • Three reviewers per application should be a sufficient maximum number.
    • Provide a scoring matrix or review protocol that makes it easy for reviewers to focus on how the applicant matches the desired criteria.
    • Reviewers should provide measurable, comparable responses.

Use case : Using the scholarship application process to help students meet a learning or development outcome

Example: We request a resume as part of the application process because we think it is good for students to develop a resume, and we want to motivate them to start working on one. What if, in this case, we don't find the resume particularly useful in evaluating the student's match with MOA.

Best Practice:

In most cases the goal of the scholarship process is to fund students that best match the MOA in order to support them in meeting their educational goals. Other outcomes must be stated intentionally and a carried out with a program. Use the University's agreed upon student learning and development outcomes. Determine the outcomes expected from this experience, and then determine how to provide support for the student in order that they actually achieve the desired outcome.

From the example above, we might agree that requiring the resume ought to help students develop a stronger goal orientation by requiring additional motivation to achieve this goal. We might provide resources, such as links to a career services resume workshop, on the application alongside the requirement for the resume. In this instance the administrators would have intentionally identified their desired outcome, stated it explicitly, and then provided a "program" to help support the student. That is appropriate use of the scholarship application process to meet a student development outcome.

Use case : Determining the schedule for applications, review, and notification.

Best Practice:

Develop a shared schedule, per student group, and per scholarship period, for application availability, application due dates, and student notification. We already come close to doing this for new freshmen.

Annual scholarship cycle suggestion

  • Applications available before winter break (December 15th?). This gives students time to complete applications without competing with other academic responsibilities.
  • Applications due before spring break (March 1st). This gives administrators spring break to do the administrative work to prepare for review and selection.
  • Notifications due last day of instruction of spring term (May 7th).
  • Awards must be forwarded via Scholarship Automation in time for them to appear on financial aid packages. This year it was June 30th.
  • Thank-you letters in the summer.

Term-based scholarship cycle

Scholarships that are for specific purposes (study abroad scholarships, internship scholarships, research opportunity scholarships, for example) should try to match the scholarship schedule used by the organization on campus that does most of that sort of funding. i.e., match the Learning Abroad Center's scholarship app due dates for your study abroad scholarships; match your internship scholarships to the UROP schedule, etc.

Use case : Accounting and funds management

Best Practice: be disciplined in using entire EFS string, including accurate use of the UMF fund number in the chart fields.

New Scholarships:

  • Create scholarship name and set-up EFS string using BPEL A CF1 value should be used for all UMF scholarships. The CF1’s start with UMF000_ _ _ _. The last four digits are the UMF fund number of the scholarship.
  • After receiving confirmation from accounting services that the scholarship name & EFS string have been created, activate EFS budget combo codes in the EFS create/update journal panel. In the first panel fill out the description & Dept ID, & Click on reversal and then next day. In the second panel enter the EFS string using account code 800100. Then fill in .01 in the amount field and process and post the journal. Accounting services has procedures that can be accessed for this process.
  • After the budget processes overnight, create an item type for the scholarship.

Requesting funds from UMF: this should be done using the create bill panel in EFS. UMF has procedures for doing this.

Fund management: Use UM Reports Chartfield String Budget Status for Current Non-Sponsored Funds or EFS General Ledger to monitor scholarship funds.

Spending: Attempt to spend all available funds. Contact UMF if you have funding or MOA questions.