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New scholarship software streamlines process for students and donors

The Colorado Mesa University Foundation and the Financial Aid Office have seen a significant increase in the number of students applying for scholarships since January’s introduction of AcademicWorks, a scholarship-matching software which streamlines the application process for both students and award committees.

In 2012, the Financial Aid Office received scholarship applications from approximately 800 students. This year, 1,842 individual students applied online for scholarships during the application period.

Office staff will review each application and the required supplemental materials before passing the applications on to the awarding committees. Through the scholarship opportunities available on AcademicWorks, more than 360 awards will be given out to students.

One of the greatest benefits of the software is its ability to make the awarding process more efficient for donors and selection committees. Because of this, students will receive their award information more quickly.

“The software organizes the process from start to finish,” said Jeff Doyle, the foundation’s Chief Financial Officer. “It makes the applications more uniform and puts them all in one spot, and allows the selection committees online access to applicant information. It cuts down on a lot of the manual work.”

Besides saving resources like time and paper, AcademicWorks also allows the selection committees to concentrate on the most important part of the process– helping students.

“The software allows our staff to focus on finding students and giving out money, rather than printing, making hundreds of copies and scanning. The bulk of the time is spent on the students,” Doyle said.

Like any new technology, the software has necessitated a lot of upfront setup and learning, but it appears to be paying off for everyone involved in the process.

“It seems like it’s going to be a win-win for students, donors, and the Financial Aid Office,” said Financial Aid Counselor Rose Willett. “The students I’ve spoken to thought it was much easier filling out one general application and then specific questions.” Students may also check the status of their applications online in MAVzone.

“From a student perspective, students are more likely to read and fill out an online application because they’re living in a digital age. That really improves the amount of applications we have,” said Doyle.

One of the final phases of introducing the software, which will be implemented soon, involves creating pages with more information about the donors or organizations providing the scholarship. It’s an excellent way for donors to let students know the intent or vision for their award.

“It improves the selection committees’ ability to award scholarships because they know exactly who they’re looking for,” Doyle said. “The software tells students about what the donors envision and helps tell the donors about students who need help achieving their goals. It also lets the students know how much the institution wants to help them attain an education.” •

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Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

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