STARS Inside Blog

  • SEP 11

    Scholarship Management and the Internet

    For most higher education institutions the scholarship management process has remained unchanged for many years. The typical paper based scholarship management process had seen little evolution over the years remaining a labor intensive, manual process for both students and administrators. Foundations and Financial Aid Offices publish large catalogs of scholarship opportunities and distribute them to potential students. Students then read through the scholarship catalog and fill out applications for each scholarship opportunity. This outmoded process generates thousands of paper scholarship applications with many duplicated and unqualified responses provided by students that didn't quite understand the scholarship criteria. The review committee then sifts through the sea of paperwork generated by this process and tries to decide which student will receive their golden ticket of opportunity. After weeks of comparison and deliberation, a few qualified students are chosen to receive scholarship funding. Once a decision had been reached by the review committee members, the financial aid office then mails out a few scholarship award letters to the best qualified students and sends hundreds of denial letters to the remainder of students that did not receive scholarship funding. Managing scholarships using a paper based process creates a tremendous amount of paperwork and wastes both time and human capital. In addition to the time and paper wasted, the paper process generates several additional and unnecessary expenditures. Printing and postage costs for catalogs and award letters alone can exceed several thousand dollars a year. With that kind of money spent on supporting such a labor intensive and inefficient process you would think there would be a strong motivation to move away from paper scholarships altogether. Why would anyone want to spend more money and more time on an inefficient process only to increase the burden on their students, their staff, their review committee members, and their donors? Sounds crazy doesn't it? The problem has been that there was no other solution, or no other scholarship management solution good enough to solve the real problem scholarship manager's face every day. Over the last few years, technology and the internet has changed all of this. The scholarship management process has entered the Internet age.

    It's no secret that the internet has taken over every facet of our lives. For the over 40 crowd the internet has been a revolution that we've watched develop over the last decade to our amazement. I remember when email was a cute kind of toy used to talk mainly with distant friends and relatives. Nowadays email is considered an essential and primary method of both business and personal communication. For students the internet is not something new or innovative, it is simply a standard of living and a standard of communication. This is important to understand because this is the key factor in how the internet has changed scholarship management and scholarship programs. Students expect scholarship programs to be online and will gravitate to schools that have an online scholarship application process. Students are steered away from schools that do not have online scholarship programs because they simply won't find them using their choice method of communication. Students will always choose to apply online for a scholarship because they can apply for several scholarships by just filling out one electronic application. They are using a technology that is familiar to them, easier to use, and presented in their favorite communication medium, the Internet. In Contrast, a paper scholarship process is viewed by students as painful, antiquated, and cumbersome. For example, you are reading this blog on the Internet. You most likely found our Stars Online site using Google or some other search engine. You are able to conduct research about our scholarship management solution with a quick search and a few clicks. How would this change if we only offered information on paper? If we required a written request for information, how well would we inform you and how likely are you to read about our solution over a competitor that offered the information online? Students are no different. Just as you have reached out over the internet to learn about scholarship management solutions, students will reach out using the internet to find out about scholarship opportunities. This means that having an online scholarship program is about more than just making your scholarship management process more efficient. It's more than just making things easier for students and administrators. It's a critical marketing tool that will attract more qualified students, reach higher quality students, and provide better access to students who are truly in need. Brining your scholarship program online will help you reach students in the communication medium they have chosen with an efficient and familiar process they will appreciate. Our research shows that scholarship participation increases from 100% - 200% by simply brining the process online. This means that online scholarship management programs can directly affect student enrollment, student retention, and student access to higher education. How has the internet changed the scholarship management process? The answer: it has changed everything. The internet and scholarship management solutions like Stars Online have made it easier for students to find scholarship funding opportunities, take advantage of the funding that is available to them, and help them get in to the college or university of their choosing. Bringing the scholarship management process online can be one of the most cost effective ways to attract more students to your institution and help them to find appropriate funding opportunities. You can make the scholarship application process painless for students while making it easier for your administrators and reviewers to manage scholarship applications. It's time to take advantage of the scholarship management tools that the internet has provided for you and take your scholarship program to the next level. Find out how Stars Online can make a tremendous difference in your scholarship program by taking a short tour of our award winning scholarship management system. Click here to sign up for one of our weekly webinars and see how Stars Online works and what can do for your institution.

  • OCT 11

    Comparing Scholarship Management Solutions

    Over the last few years, technology and the internet has changed the face scholarship management. There has been a complete revolution in scholarship management tools and more specifically in scholarship management software solutions on the internet. The market has been filled with solutions that claim to solve scholarship processing problems by accepting scholarship applications online and allowing administrators a way to review scholarship applications electronically. With this abundance of scholarship management solutions available, it's hard to understand the differences between them. So what makes one solution better than another? What does one look for as an indicator of a superior solution to your real business needs? The transformation from a paper scholarship process to an electronic process can seem to be a monumental achievement in itself. When schools move to using an internet based scholarship management solution, participation goes up and both students and administrators are happier with the process improvements. It would seem that any improvement is better than the old paper process, but this is not true. The conversion to a software solution to manage scholarships creates a whole new set of issues if the decision is well-thought out. Yes, any solution will let you accept scholarship applications electronically. Yes, any scholarship management solution will provide some way of reviewing applications and notifying students. But looking ahead for the next wave of needs and being prepared to meet them is where experience counts. There are simply facets of the scholarship management process that become more defined over time as they are systematically programmed into data systems. It is at this time that the depth and functionality of your scholarship management provider become apparent. If you are going to invest in a new way of doing things, the training time and human capital invested in making the transformation is significant. Make the best use of this time with the best software solution and the most experienced team you can find. With a long track record composed of hundreds of institutions, thousands of students, and over 5 million successful scholarship applications processed. The Stars Online team will make sure your online scholarship program is a success. Our experienced and knowledgeable team members can help you launch your commitment to a successful online scholarship program by meeting your immediate needs and knowing how those needs will change in the future. Click here to sign up for one of our weekly webinars and see how Stars Online works and what can do for your institution.

  • NOV 15

    Assist Students to Discover More Funding Opportunities

    This informative webinar will demonstrate how using the right scholarship management tools can help you guide students to the right funding options to increase their chances of being successfully matched with a scholarship or donor. Without guidance Students will simply apply for every scholarship they can find without discretion. With the advent of scholarship management software, this problem is amplified by poor matching logic and mass submission options found in inferior software solutions. With years of experience and hundreds of customers the Stars Online development team has learned how to code scholarship matching logic that ensures that students are given access to the best opportunities and administrators are not overloaded with thousands of unqualified applications. In this webinar attendees will learn how to help students succeed by creating a scholarship matching process that offers students more qualified funding opportunities and eliminates unqualified applications that waste time and serve no one.

  • NOV 22

    Help Students Discover More Funding Opportunities

    This Session will discuss how to reduce the burden of reviewing scholarship applications on Review Committee Members. Scholarship Review Committee Members serve a critical role in assessing students for scholarships and deciding their qualifications for scholarship funding. With the wrong review process this can be a daunting task. Imagine reviewing thousands of paper applications over several weeks. How can anyone remember applicant number one versus applicant number 5000? How much time and energy is spent reviewing applications from students that shouldn’t have applied for a scholarship because they just don’t qualify? Review Committee members have volunteered their valuable time to help students get the funding they need to achieve their dreams. Make their time count and respect their time investment by giving them the tools they need to be fair to each applicant and complete their work in a timely and organized manner. This informative webinar will discuss innovations in technology that help you maximize the time your dedicated review committee members have volunteered. Give your review committee the tools they need to do their job well, and you will be giving your students a fair shot at the funding they deserve.

  • NOV 30

    Five Most Common Mistakes Made in Scholarship Management

    This webinar will discuss the five most common mistakes made by Scholarship Managers and Foundation Directors that manage scholarships. The process of accepting and awarding scholarships seems to have changed very little over the years because the process is serial and only consumes significant time and resources at the end of the cycle during the reviewing and awarding process. A common misconception is that the awarding and review process is the greatest inefficiency in the scholarship management cycle. This is simply not true. If we tallied up the time taken by each student to fill out a paper application while looking through a catalog of scholarships and added it to the time students have wasted applying for scholarships they do not qualify for, then multiply that figure by the number of review committee members that have to review paper applications, we would arrive at a very large number. Other inefficiencies are found by trying to build a scholarship system in house, or purchase an extremely low cost solution that just doesn’t work. The waste of human capital, or the time and effort put into these inefficiencies can all be avoided. This session will discuss how Scholarship Managers and Foundation Directors can reduce costs, eliminate frustrations and streamline the scholarship management process by following some simple guidelines. This is one off our best Webinars in the series and I would urge anyone in the business of helping students to find scholarship funding to attend. Learn how to avoid the five most common mistakes made by scholarship managers and make everyone’s life a lot easier.