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7 Tips for Keeping Scholarship Applicants Engaged

Better application management of scholarships, grants, awards, and more.

7 Tips for Keeping Scholarship Applicants Engaged

A critical element in scholarship management is keeping your applicants engaged. What do we mean by that? Making sure that applicants stay invested and focused throughout the entire application process.

Keeping applicants engaged is about their user experience throughout the process of trying to gain the scholarship. With that in mind, here are 7 tips for keeping your applicants engaged so you can optimize your scholarship program

1. Communicate with your applicants

Keep your applicants in the loop regarding the status of their online scholarship application forms via text messaging and email. You can send things like:

  • Reminders of deadlines (a week, 30 days, 60 days, and even a few months out)
  • A note thanking them for their application so they know it was received 
  • Notices of when your evaluation team will be ready to announce the winners, and
  • The official recipient list so that there’s no question about who was awarded and who wasn’t


By keeping in touch with them, you won’t leave them wondering what happened. People like to be kept informed, and by sharing updates, you’ll prevent the inevitable influx of emails and phone calls asking about who won.

2. Pre-qualify your Applicants

When you add pre-qualification questions to your scholarship application form, you help filter out ineligible applicants. After all, there’s nothing worse than spending the time and energy to fill out and submit an application only to learn you didn’t qualify in the first place. 

To keep your scholarship applicants engaged, make sure it’s clear on your website and again at the beginning of your application form who is eligible to apply. Then, use scholarship management software to add additional pre-qualification questions to further filter out ineligible applicants.   

3. Include a Preview of the Application

Many applicants will opt-out of even applying in the first place if the application appears too long or too difficult. By giving them the opportunity to see it ahead of time, they can make a quick decision about whether or not they want to apply.

This will help you avoid several unfinished applications, and help your users avoid quitting out of frustration. Furthermore, if they decide they do want to fill it out, it will give them the chance to gather any materials they may need ahead of time to make the process easier on themselves. 


4. Match Applicants to Programs

Using scholarship management software, match applicants with programs they would be a great fit for, you will end up with better-qualified applicants for each of your programs.

It makes the whole process easier for your evaluation team and for your would-be applicants. Keeping everyone happy because it makes it much more likely for eligible people to get to the right application page.

5. Provide a Checklist of Key Items

The more information you can offer your applicants, the easier it will be for them to fill out their scholarship application form, and hence, the happier they will be. If you need them to provide things like a copy of their transcripts, recommendation letters, ACT/SAT scores, etc… it’s a good idea to add all of that to your checklist so your applicants will know everything they need to fill out their form quickly and easily.

6. Provide Question Level Help 

One of the more frustrating things for an applicant is to be unclear on how to answer a question. When they don’t know how to answer, and they fear answering it incorrectly could disqualify them, they can become discouraged and abandon the application entirely. Include tips and suggestions that give more context to a question making it easier for your applicants to answer prompts. 


7. Include an FAQ Section

Our final scholarship management tip to keep applicants engaged is to provide a frequently asked questions section so that you can address the more common queries that you either already receive, or that you anticipate you could receive from individuals filling out your form.

Again, the more information you can give your applicants, the better. When an applicant feels empowered and knowledgeable, they are that much more likely to complete their application and walk away hopeful rather than discouraged about the process. 

SmarterSelect is a scholarship management software that makes it easy to apply all of these tips to your scholarship program. We’ve helped countless program administrators make quick work of their own scholarships, and we can help you too. Click here to download our in-depth scholarship management guide for program managers.

Download eBook: The Ultimate Scholarship Management Guide for Program Managers

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