Texas A&M University – Commerce

Facts:

  • Location: Commerce, TX
  • Organization Type: 4-Year Public
  • Enrollment: 11,800
  • Number of Scholarship Funds: 450
  • Founded: 1889

Problem

At Texas A&M University–Commerce, the Financial Aid Office is the central management point for scholarship awards. This office not only works with Advancement to set up new scholarship funds based on donor agreements, but they also work with the departments who are in charge of reviewing applications and making the majority of awards.

Communicating with all of the different departments was difficult because there was no central place to find information on all the award recipients. Communications were done through spreadsheets and email which lead to a lot of confusion for everyone involved. Students applied for each scholarship on paper. Each scholarship also required the applicant to fill in a form with personal information and write an essay. Each of the departments had a separate process. Because of this labor-intensive process, students were not taking advantage of scholarship opportunities. If they were applying for scholarships at all, they were only applying for few, rather than for every scholarship for which they were eligible.

The university decided to implement AcademicWorks to help increase each student’s exposure to scholarship opportunities and create consistency in the way information was collected from the department awarding committees. They also wanted an easier way to impose a stricter application deadline so that awards could be made in alignment with other important Financial Aid dates.

The AcademicWorks Solution

Since the AcademicWorks implementation, the administration actively promotes their scholarship website to students through sandwich boards placed on campus, television monitor announcements, ads in the student newspaper, email reminders, and messages when students log into Banner® by Ellucian. When students visit the scholarship page, they are prompted to complete an online application, which automatically match students to all the awards for which they are eligible. While some scholarships still require an essay, the overall application process is much simpler for the student. Committees within the different departments then review the applications and make the awarding decisions. AcademicWorks provides a role called the “reviewer chair.” The person in this role can see all applications for each scholarship and can check the status of how many applications have been reviewed by the entire committee, all within AcademicWorks. The reviewer chair can categorize finalists for Advancement. Advancement then verifies and gives the approval to the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships to make the final awards.

Outcomes

The implementation of AcademicWorks has provided many benefits for both students and administrators at Texas A&M University–Commerce. Because of the streamlined process for students, the number of applicants for the committees to choose from has increased, and more scholarship funds have been awarded. Consequently, it is easier to ask donors to contribute again for future scholarship funds. The most beneficial change is the ability to offer scholarships to students online immediately once the donor agreement has been finalized. This change allows students to know how much assistance to expect in scholarship funds, which is particularly critical as they make decisions about their plans for the following year.

AcademicWorks has also improved the relationship between the Financial Aid Office, Advancement, and the academic departments. The academic departments have embraced using AcademicWorks to make their decisions because of the increased visibility into the process. The Reviewer Chair role significantly improved communication because all actions and information are easily accessible in AcademicWorks. This feature shifted a lot of the awarding responsibility back to the departments, which they enjoy and it gives them confidence in the process.

Simplify Scholarship Management

AcademicWorks continues to improve the way Texas A&M – Commerce manages their scholarships. Please contact us to see how we can assist your campus.