AcademicWorks, a scholarship management program, is designed to increase students’ accessibility to funds that have been left unclaimed.
Colleges and universities often have hundreds or even thousands of dollars of individual scholarship funds that are not awarded to students each year, according to AcademicWorks website.
Campuses often see a 70 to 200 percent increase in the number of scholarship applications as well as fund utilization by implementing AcademicWorks, as reported by BusinessWire.
Over 400 colleges and universities have implemented the use of AcademicWorks, including CSU Channel Islands, Cal Poly Pomona, CSU San Marcos, and CSU Los Angeles.
The 5-year-old program is based in Austin, Texas and is said to “provide only comprehensive scholarships management solutions, focused on improving access to education through innovative technology,” according to the AcademicWorks website.
The usual process of applying for scholarships includes requiring students to pick up, fill out, and return applications.
As opposed to the usual paper process, this program simplifies the process by automatically importing key information about the student, while administrators match students to all the available scholarships.
The “easy-to-use program” works by a centralized, searchable 24-hour website that allows each student to see all scholarships for which they are eligible.
What they call the “Data Import Process” begins by importing, then uploading student data through their AcademicWorks application.
Once uploaded, the system begins comparing data with all open scholarship opportunities to identify matches.
The new process uses scholarship funds that often go unused due to administrator difficulty in finding students for scholarship awards with very specific requirements. Along with the lack of student participation, the funds given to that department go un-awarded, according to BusinessWire.
Though AcademicWorks technology is not yet provided at CSUSB, some students believe the system will be helpful.
“AcademicWorks is available to help students at other CSU’s so hopefully we are next. CSUSB is in the process of making a lot of technological changes around campus so the program will be more convenient as it is a direct place where we can go and submit scholarship applications,” according to student Jennifer Saenz.
There are two main methods that AcademicWorks clients use for reviewing. Scholarship-specific reviewing means reviewers are looking at individual applications for a specific scholarship. The general application method means that reviewers are simply reviewing the general application including any data imported from the student information system.
The scholarship-specific method is encouraged for the “apply-to” programs scholarships, which provides the option to apply to scholarship. The benefit of this method is that reviewers are able to rate applicants based on the specific context of that criteria. This method does mean that there are more reviews to complete overall.
The general application method is best used with auto-match scholarships, according to AcademicWorks.
The benefit to this method is there are fewer reviews to complete overall.
A hybrid approach is widely used among AcademicWorks clients. The AcademicWorks system will average review scores together to help make award decisions.
“AcademicWorks allows the Office of University Scholarships to easily monitor all financial aid awarding activities across campus,” said Veld Rooker, Director of University Scholarships at Auburn University.
“Using Academic Works, we are able to more effectively package awards for incoming students, while continuing to alter college/schools autonomy over their awarding decisions.”