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How to Maximize an Applicant's Understanding of the Scholarship Application

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

How to Maximize an Applicant's Understanding of the Scholarship Application

Scholarship management can be a daunting task. However, by following some simple steps, you can make the process much easier. In this post, we’ll explore how to maximize an applicant’s understanding of the scholarship application to reduce troubleshooting and improve the scholarship application experience.

When your applicants have difficulty understanding applications, the process is less enjoyable. You can close the gap by clarifying the most confusing parts of the application, and anticipate and address things that could cause an issue from the outset. That said, let’s look at five ways to aid your candidates in understanding applications so that more of them will fill out their forms successfully.

1. Communicate Clearly From The Beginning

Remember, you live and breathe this scholarship program. What makes perfect sense to you, might not be clear to someone who is seeing your scholarship or your questions for the first time. For example, you should have a clear understanding of what your application form is actually requiring from applicants. Looking at this alone can help you ensure the scholarship doesn't have too many requirements and is easy to understand for potential candidates.  In addition, taking tips from admissions consultants on how to approach a scholarship application will provide valuable insights.

Put yourself in their shoes, and as you read through ask yourself:

  • Is there a clear explanation of eligibility?
  • Is the application process straightforward?
  • Are my sections clearly separated? (i.e. all financial questions in one section, all extracurricular activities addressed in another, essay questions grouped together, etc…) Keep in mind some candidates might not fill out the entire application at once. If they need to keep going back and forth between documents it could cause them to abandon the application.
  • Are timelines clear?
  • What about required documents? Do you have clear indications for applicants about what you’re expecting to receive from them?

While you don’t want to write a novel of explanations, being crystal clear is key to a good scholarship application experience.


2. Have A Single Application Form

While this might seem like a strange tip, having just one form is your best bet to keep your scholarship management process uncomplicated. A single application form will reduce data duplication and overlapping answers. This might mean that your application will be a little lengthy, perhaps longer than you’d like, your goal should be to reduce confusion and increase clarity rather than having multiple small application forms for your candidates. This will ultimately save time and effort on your end, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not candidates completed all forms because there will only be one for them to submit.

3. Create A Dedicated FAQ Page

Often, applicants will have questions that they feel are too small to send an email about - but not knowing the answer can cause them to fill out the form incorrectly and/or lead to undue stress. Whether it's simple questions about eligibility or clarification on what you're asking in the scholarship application, a dedicated FAQ page is a great way to answer those commonly asked questions.


An FAQ page will reduce the number of emails you receive as well, making it easier for your team to answer correspondence more quickly and thoroughly. This also empowers applicants to find out everything they need to know about an application and fill it out more confidently before contacting you with a question.

4. Ensure Communication Is Done In A Timely Fashion

Another thing you can do to improve the scholarship application experience for your candidates is communicate with them in a timely fashion. It’s also a good idea to let them know when and how they should be expecting to hear from you if they do have issues understanding applications. For example, somewhere in your FAQs, on your website, and/or on your form you can state something to the effect of: “If you have a question about your application, email us at support@myapplication.com and a member of our team will get back to you within 1 business day.”

It may be beneficial to share your office hours as well.

Delayed communication can create scholarship applicant issues, and lead to form abandonment. Furthermore, there are a lot of procrastinators that may not have the time to wait for a response, reducing their ability to submit on time.

5. Encourage Feedback And Act On It

If applicants have questions or concerns about the scholarship application process, they should know how to and be encouraged to get in touch with you. This not only gives you a chance to address their concerns, but encouraging feedback will also help improve the process for future applicants.

You should have a clear idea of your goals when it comes to collecting feedback from and responding to past and current applicants. It’s also a good idea to consider whether you want to use the feedback to simply improve your scholarship applications, or if you are looking for specific information? Make sure you have a plan in place for collecting data so it can be used more effectively.

Helping your candidates in understanding applications is just one of the many elements of the scholarship management process SmarterSelect can assist you with. Learn more about all the ways SmarterSelect can improve the scholarship application experience. Start your free trial today!

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