University of Northern Colorado

Facts:

  • Location: Greeley, Colorado
  • Organization Type: 4-Year Public
  • Number of Scholarship Funds: 1,100
  • Enrollment: 13,000

Problem

The University of Northern Colorado was using an automated scholarship management technology that was not meeting the needs of their students, reviewers, or administrators. Although students could apply for scholarships online, every scholarship required a separate application. With over 1,000 awards, the individual application process was too cumbersome and time-consuming for students.

Once applications were complete, administrators had a difficult time accessing all eligible applicants because reporting capabilities were limited. The reviewing process was not automated, so applications still had to be printed and hand delivered to reviewers all over campus. Applications took a long time to circulate to the right reviewers and were often lost. This delay was compounded by a lack of integration with the student information system. By the time a final awarding decision was ready to be made, the original application might be incorrect or out of date. Therefore, staff had to verify every application between the scholarship system and the student information system several times before a final award could be made.

The Foundation uses Raiser’s Edge software to maintain donor relationships. However, those in the foundation were hungry for information about the awarded students and needed an easy way to collect thank-you letters. Yet, only the financial aid office had access to all the information collected during the scholarship application and award cycle.

Solution

The University of Northern Colorado knew they needed to make a change. The University chose AcademicWorks because it provided services that were crucial to their vision of how they wanted their scholarship program to run.

Implementation. To help implement the project, the university created an Advisory Board with representatives from financial aid, the UNC Foundation, Development, IT, and Enrollment Management Student Access. This team worked together to create the workflow for the scholarship process and made sure it was well documented and well communicated to the appropriate people on campus. Even after implementation was complete, these stakeholders continue to meet monthly to evaluate and improve the scholarship process through an open forum.

Single Application. Using AcademicWorks, the financial aid office opens the scholarship application window in December and closes it in March. They promote their AcademicWorks scholarship website with postcards and posters on campus and in texts to students.

Students complete a single application to apply for the majority of available scholarships. A nightly import from Banner® by Ellucian reduces the information that students must complete themselves. To further expedite the application process, essay questions are no longer required for the general scholarship application. For scholarships that required a separate essay, the students are prompted to complete an essay for that scholarship only. Overall, students are more easily able to apply for more scholarships in less time.

Efficient Evaluations. The Office of Financial Aid provides reviewers with online access to AcademicWorks to review the applications and complete a scoring rubric. There is no paper printed to get lost during the review process. Each review committee has a chairperson that moves the chosen student into a finalist status in AcademicWorks. The Office of Financial Aid then quickly approves eligibility using the information within AcademicWorks and moves the student to an awarded status.

Award Acceptance. Once awards are made, students are notified via email and are prompted to accept their award and submit a donor thank-you letter directly from within AcademicWorks. Now, the foundation office is easily able to view the accepted students and thank-you letters within the platform without having to wait for communication from the financial aid office.

Outcomes

Increased Applications. The University of Northern Colorado used metrics to evaluate the transition to the AcademicWorks solution. The most important metric for the team was to increase the number of applications received using the new process. In the first year alone, applications increased 40%. Student workers in the office made comments as to how much easier the new application was for them to complete.

Increased Review Efficiency. Overall, AcademicWorks sped up the process for the scholarship review team at the University of Northern Colorado. AcademicWorks allowed them to meet their goal of awarding all scholarships before classes began in the fall. Increased access to information was also a beneficial outcome of the project. Now, all appropriate teams have access to the information and reports they need. A visual dashboard provides them with a complete view of their scholarship cycle.

Simplify Scholarship Management

The Foundation awarded the Office of Financial Aid the Award for Excellence because of the success of these changes and the implementation on campus.
AcademicWorks continues to transform the way the University of Northern Colorado manages their scholarships. Please contact us to see how we can assist your campus.