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Streamlining Scholarship Disbursement Processes

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

Streamlining Scholarship Disbursement Processes

It’s no secret that scholarships are a massive part of our universities and colleges, and we know better than most that awarding scholarships is a lot of work! From the application phase to scholarship disbursement, as a scholarship administrator or manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure the disbursement processes go off without a hitch. For most scholarship program teams though, it’s that part of the whole experience that may be one the most stressful.

If you can relate we hope you will keep reading because as we all know, not properly disbursing scholarship awards can cause big problems for your institution. For starters, applicants will understandably become impatient or angry if they have not received their funds in proper time. A lot of students rely heavily on scholarships to cover costs such as tuition, textbooks, housing, food, and other costs associated with attending college. You don’t want to earn a reputation associated with not properly disbursing funds.

Another issue that can come up when there is a lack of successful disbursement has to do with donors or partnerships. Donors may lose trust in your institution if they feel like their donations aren’t being used properly. Tarnishing reputation and relationships with donors may negatively affect your scholarship fund in the long term too. Nobody wants that!

Let’s make things a little easier on you shall we? Below we’ll teach you how to streamline the scholarship disbursement process to help you save time and resources.

Understanding the Scholarship Disbursement Workflow

Disbursement is the process in which the selected applicants receive their awards directly from the institution. Put another way, disbursement means the funds have been added to the student’s bursar account - here, it’s the bursar’s job to apply the funds to their tuition. Any remaining funds will then be refunded to the student.

It’s a scholarship manager’s job to ensure that all proper documentation and agreements have been completed prior to releasing the funds. It’s also required to ensure that each applicant is enrolled in the college or university before releasing the funds and that they don’t have any holds on their account.

Key stakeholders play a role in scholarship disbursement as well. They are providing funds for the awards, so their cooperation and communication are crucial at every stage in the disbursement process.

Implementing Electronic Payment Systems

Technology has made huge waves in nearly every facet of our daily lives. Utilizing technology to make processes more simple and user-friendly is always something we recommend. Implementing electronic payment systems for scholarship fund disbursement will ease the workload for scholarship managers and administrators.

Utilizing electronic payment systems such as SendGrant from SmarterSelect comes with many great benefits.

For starters, it creates a more efficient process for everyone involved. Electronic payment systems will take the workload of disbursing the funds manually off your hands. It’s certainly much more convenient for the disbursement process to be handled automatically. Another great benefit of implementing electronic payment systems is enhanced security. Finally, electronic payment systems can assist your institution in tracking and keeping records of funds.

These benefits don’t end at scholarship managers, accounting managers, or financial aid administrators, however. They also benefit the applicants receiving the scholarships. It’s more convenient for them, too, to receive and track their electronic payments.

Simplifying Documentation and Verification Procedures


Documentation can pile up quickly! With each applicant being required to submit many pieces of documentation, we understand that keeping track of this can be difficult. We highly recommend digitizing this process with scholarship management software like SmarterSelect to reduce the amount of physical papers you’ll need to sort through. By having applicants complete documentation digitally, you’ll save time and effort on organization and proper storage.

Implementing streamlined verification procedures will expedite the disbursement process. Streamlining documentation and verification procedures will speed up the process, eliminate room for errors or mistakes, and take workload off of scholarship managers and administrators. One of the most effective ways to do this is to implement an online disbursement system.

Online Disbursement Workflows

Implementing online scholarship disbursement workflows is going to save your institution time and effort. Imagine how much more time you will have in your work day if you no longer have to read through multiple pieces of applicant documentation or approve every single verification. Data entry, verification, and notification processes are tedious tasks that can certainly take a lot of minutes if not hours from your already busy day.

Streamlining online disbursement workflows is crucial in operating a smooth sailing scholarship fund. At SmarterSelect, our goal is to help assist scholarship managers successfully manage their funds with less effort. That’s why we built our software - to help you automate as much of your workflow as possible and take your scholarship fund management to the next level of simplicity.

Providing Transparent Communication

Transparent and open communication is key! For any business or institution, providing transparent communication keeps a good reputation and trust. Providing transparent communication in the scholarship disbursement process is incredibly important. Applicants are eagerly awaiting their awards, the bursar’s office are awaiting disbursement information to complete the payment process, the financial aid administrators need information to apply the awards appropriately, and donors want to know that their donations are being put to use.

It’s incredibly important to keep everyone involved updated and in the loop. Automating this process can save your institution tons of time and effort on communication. All parties should be aware, in advance, of important details such as deadlines, disbursement timelines, requirements, and status updates.

Offering Flexible Disbursement Options

Another great way to boost reputation and satisfaction is to offer flexible scholarship  disbursement options. The days of paper checks being the only scholarship disbursement option are far behind us. Offering flexible disbursement options allows applicants to select an option that best fits their specific needs and preferences.

Some additional disbursement options include direct deposit, prepaid cards, and electric wallets. This will give applicants the freedom to choose which option best works for them and their specific situation or circumstance.

Ensuring Compliance and Security

Scholarship applications, documentation, verification, and disbursement all hold a multitude of personal and private information. Applicants provide demographic information, social security numbers, addresses, personal information in essays, and banking information. Ensuring that all this information remains protected and private is a requirement of a scholarship fund manager or administrator.

We highly recommend implementing measures to safeguard sensitive financial information and prevent fraud. For example, use software that takes additional security measures to protect both personal information and banking data.

Monitoring and Reporting

If only all the work was complete once disbursements are sent! We know that properly monitoring and reporting disbursements are a huge piece of your role. You need to account for each disbursement that is processed within your fund. We recommend utilizing software to assist you in this as well.

With proper monitoring and reporting comes great opportunity to evaluate disbursement efficiency and identify areas for improvement. And, when you use software to help you with your monitoring and reporting, you create a digital trail that helps you keep track of where your funds are at every stage of your program period.

Continuous Improvement and Feedback


All successful businesses and organizations regularly engage in evaluating their processes and systems. There’s always room for improvement, right? We recommend that you encourage feedback from both stakeholders and applicants to identify areas that could use adjustments and improvements. Continuous improvement will help you maintain your reputation as well as trust with stakeholders and applicants.

Where to Go From Here

We recommend using SmarterSelect and SendGrant to enhance and improve your scholarship disbursement processes. Streamlining and automating your workflows can ease the burden for managers and administrators, boost applicant satisfaction, and maintain good reputation and trust with key stakeholders. Click here to schedule a demo of SmarterSelect.


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