With the objective to make education accessible and affordable to all, a number of corporate houses and NGOs are offering scholarships as part of their CSR and social initiatives. These scholarships not only make the needy students achieve their educational dreams, but also add value to their personal and professional lives.
While launching any scholarship, corporates and NGOs need to keep certain things in mind to get proper response from interested eligible students. There were cases, where the scholarship amount and number of seats were good, still there are very few number of applications. Resulting non utilization of scholarships.
Sharing guidelines for all such organizations who are running or planning to launch scholarships. These guidelines can help them to increase number of applications for their newly launched scholarship programmes.
1. Effective promotional strategy: All channel of promotion is expensive whether its newspaper, TV, radio, digital marketing etc however, not all promotional channels are as effective as they look from outside. Scholarship is very unique opportunity and targeting to a very specific section of society. Promotional strategy should be as such it reached to the right audiences.
2. Clarity of information: A detailed and clear information about a scholarship programme such as total value of scholarship amount given to each scholar and total number of seats, eligibility criteria, selection process, deadline, etc. should be mentioned on the website where the scholarship is launched. Lack of proper information will never draw students interest and consider as scam, ponzi scheme than a scholarship.
3. Proper application guideline: A clear guideline on how to apply for the scholarship should be there on the website. A check list showing all documents needed from students in application form is also important. You can either provide it in PDF or on video format. This will help students to know all about application fields and give familiarity from the beginning till end.
4. Need of enough time for students to apply: Most of the scholarship application is online and the irony is Internet literacy in India is less than 22%. Many students don’t know how to apply on Internet. It takes more time for students to understand the scheme and apply by themselves. To add to this issue, there are holidays of 7 to 10 days (Durga Puja, Saturday, Sunday, 2nd October, Christmas, new year etc.).
5. Documents issue: Many students come across issues with their documents while applying for any scholarship. As institutes have festival holidays, students get less time to arrange their institute letter. Public holidays impede students’ effort to get their income certificate from their block offices. There should be provision for student to submit it in later stage when they are selected for a scholarship or just before the disbursement.
6. Query handling: While applying for a scholarship, students do have queries and doubts. There should be a panel of expert counselors who can handle these queries with empathy and provide the solution. The panel should work even on holidays and do ensure with follow-ups with the student whether they would be able to submit their application form successfully. Sometimes, they should also upload students’ documents by themselves in case they are having issues with Internet.
7. Application closing reminders: There are many cases, where students assume their application forms are submitted while just filling up the registration form. To avoid such confusion and to encourage all registered students not to miss their chance, there should be an automated reminder e-mail, SMS system to send alerts on frequent basis to those whose applications are not submitted till deadline.
8. Technology issue: There are times, when website simply stops working while a student applying for a scholarship. In those cases, technology should be blamed for any glitch in the application process. So, corporates need to take extra effort to tackle this issue of technology while launching their scholarship to capture response from students efficiently.
9. Minimizing applications efforts: There should be proper application form for students to fill all the fields and upload documents. It should be up and running 24*7 till deadline. There should be validations in place to avoid silly mistake issues at the time of applications.
10. Right team or implementing partner: As scholarship process involves many complex activities including promotions, strategy, technology, process creation, shortlisting, interviews, event management, data entry, negotiation with media agencies, technology setup, handling queries from students, data entry, digital marketing, and then cross checking all qualified student documents. There is a need of a very talented team handling everything. Organizations are advised to outsource the scholarship management process to qualified agencies to run it professionally.
In some cases, because of above issues, there are low number of applications then seats resulting under utilization of scholarship fund. If you are launching scholarship for the first time, join hands with organizations who are professionals to understand the whole process.