Choosing the Right Scholarship Management Software for Your Organization

Scholarship Management

Managing scholarship programs can be a daunting task for any organization. With countless applications to review, awards to track, and recipient information to maintain, keeping everything organized can feel like a full-time job. This is where scholarship management software can help streamline the entire process from start to finish.


In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of using scholarship management software and how to select the right solution for your needs. We’ll break down the key features to look for, discuss pricing models, and provide recommendations for some top software options on the market. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of this powerful tool and be well-equipped to choose a program that works best for your scholarship program.

The Challenge of Manual Scholarship Management

For many organizations, managing scholarships is still done manually through spreadsheets and paper files. While this may have worked for smaller programs in the past, it becomes untenable as programs grow in size and complexity. Some of the biggest challenges of a manual system include:


Lack of organization: It’s easy for crucial applicant or recipient documents to get lost or disorganized when working with physical paperwork. Spreadsheets also often lack the structure needed to logically separate and track all the moving pieces.

Inefficient processes: Common tasks like application intake, review, selection, award notifications, and ongoing recipient tracking are difficult to streamline without digital tools. Things like copying information between locations or double-checking data entry are prone to human error.

Inability to scale: As more people apply for funding each year and more awards are distributed, demand on the program increases. A manual system won’t be able to efficiently support significant growth over time.

Inconsistent data: It’s hard to ensure all parties involved like reviewers, selection committees and program administrators are accessing and updating the most up-to-date applicant/recipient information when using disconnected systems.


Lack of reporting: Pulling meaningful analytics and reports on applicant demographics, award amounts, GPA trends over time, or other metrics is nearly impossible without organizing all the data in one centralized location.

The manual approach adds unnecessary complexity and risk to your scholarship program. Scholarship management software is designed specifically to address these challenges through automation and centralized data management.

The Benefits of Scholarship Management Software

Some key advantages software provides over manual systems include:

Organization: All applicant/recipient profiles, documents, reviews, correspondence and other crucial information is stored digitally in one centralized database for easy access and searchability.

Automation: Common workflow tasks like application routing, status notifications, selection, and award generation can be automated to streamline the process and reduce manual errors.

Scalability: Software platforms can efficiently support growing programs with thousands of applications each cycle through powerful tools and reporting.

Consistency: Teams in different locations have real-time access to the most up-to-date applicant/recipient data through secure online portals.

Analytics: Detailed reporting and analytics help measure program success, identify trends, forecast needs, and make data-driven decisions about the future.

Customization: Most software offerings allow configuring customizable forms, workflow processes, communication templates and other settings tailored to your specific program requirements.

Accessibility: Reviewers, staff, and even applicants themselves can securely access the system anytime from any internet-connected device for easy collaboration.

By adopting the right scholarship management software, organizations can modernize antiquated manual processes, reduce the administrative burden on staff, and ultimately better serve both applicants and recipients. Let’s explore how to select the software package that delivers the most features within your budget.

Key Features to Evaluate

When evaluating scholarship management software options, focus on solutions that offer these core capabilities tailored for your specific needs:

Application Management

Applicant profiles, online application forms that can be customized with required fields, application review workflows, application status tracking, applicant correspondence tools.

Award Management

Award types, amounts, terms and conditions setup, selection criteria, award notifications, acceptance/decline tracking, recipient profiles for ongoing access.

Document Management

Secure document upload and organization for applications, recommendations, transcripts, awards, reports cards/grades etc. with metadata tagging.

Review Workflow Automation

Customizable reviewer assignments, online/offline review forms, scoring rubrics, consensus building among reviewers/committees, support for blinded/unblinded reviews.

Metrics and Reporting

Prebuilt reports on applicants, recipients, demographics, award distributions, GPA/grades trends over time. Custom report builder capabilities.

Communication Tools

Template driven email/letters for status updates, reminders, award notifications, portal messages; SMS and mail merge support.


Single Sign-On, Student Information Systems (SIS), learning management systems (LMS), payment/billing integrations for tuition payments etc.

Access Control and Security

Role-based access, data encryption, audit logs, multifactor authentication, privacy and compliance certifications.

Carefully consider all these capabilities when shortlisting the top 2-3 options as not all solutions will meet all needs out of the box. Requesting demos is key to understanding configuration options.

Pricing Models

While quality scholarship management software does require an investment, it often pays for itself through productivity gains compared to manual systems. Common pricing models seen in the market include:

  • Per application fee – A small fee per submitted application, which scales cost effectively as program size grows.
  • Per user licensing – Fee per active user/license on the system such as reviewers, staff and administrators. More expensive initially but unlimited users.
  • Annual subscription – Annual fee based on program size, number of active users, or total annual budget. Most cost effective long term.
  • Setup fee and custom configuration services – One time setup fee, sometimes waived, plus hourly or packaged configuration support.

Larger established programs usually opt for annual subscriptions while smaller pilots may start with pay per application or per user models. Consider multitenant software running on a single database instance to save on setup fees. Request customized quotes outlining all inclusive costs over 5 years versus manual management to justify the investment.

Top Software Picks

Let’s look at a few leading scholarship software solutions that deliver strong features and customer support:

Award Force

Award-winning platform offering a centralized dashboard across multiple programs. Integrates with school databases. Mobile-friendly. Configurable forms and workflows. Powerful reporting. Plans from $5,000 annually.

Community Award Management

Full suite of tools from online applications to disbursement tracking. Templates, reviews, intake automation. Works well for non-profits. Integrates with payment systems. Plans from $750/year.


Specifically designed for college/university foundations. Mobile-ready. Adapts to funding cycles. Grants analytics. Single sign-on with schools. Intuitive dashboard. Plans from $3,000/year.

Foundant Technologies GO!grants

Extensive customization options for unique processes. Batch uploads/downloads. Robust security, role management. Works well for gov/research grants. Not browser based. Plans from $10,000 annually.


Easy to use cloud based platform for schools. Mobile responsive forms. Award tracking and reporting. Integrates with SIS. Student privacy and FERPA compliance built in. Plans from $10/application.

Do thorough product demonstrations with each vendor, ask for client references, review online reviews, and test trial versions when possible to determine the best fit. Don’t hesitate to negotiate pricing either – fitness for purpose should drive selections over cost alone.

Making the Switch

Migrating from a manual system to any new software requires planning and execution. Here are some best practices:

  • Map existing processes and data to understand configuration needs. Consider pilot testing a small subset of data first.
  • Export all applicant/recipient profile information from existing systems into CSV/Excel for one-time upload into new software.
  • Coordinate data transfers between school systems and any new integrated providers like payment gateways.
  • Train all staff on new workflows, access rights, reporting features through refresher guides and one on one sessions.
  • Manage change through clear internal announcements and external applicant communications about any form or process updates.
  • Work with vendors for setup and migration support services. Some offer free webinars and implementation consultants too.
  • Allow 1-2 full cycles for full adoption as users get accustomed to new features and efficiencies are realized.

With a well-planned transition, teams can start enjoying the fruits of scholarship management software within months versus years spent on manual systems. The modernization is well worth the initial efforts.

Selecting the Right Fit for Your Program

By now, you should have a solid understanding of the functionality scholarship management software provides, factors to evaluate solutions, pricing considerations, top recommended options as well as best practices for adoption.

To recap, here are the key steps:

  1. Map out your program needs and prioritize core capabilities
  2. Shortlist 2-3 potential platforms based on features
  3. Request demos to understand ease of use and customization
  4. Evaluate pricing models and negotiate for best value
  5. Speak to client references and read online reviews
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