4 Actionable Ways to Speed up the Scholarship Review Process

scholarship review process

Before launching your scholarship, you probably had an idea that the entire process goes very quickly and smoothly. You publish a scholarship, students apply, you get tons of applicants and choose the best one. In reality, there’s a lot of smaller steps involved between each of these phases.

One of them is the review process. Namely, with each application that comes in, there needs to be someone qualified to review it and decide who goes to the next round. This is one of the most crucial stages of each scholarship application, but at the same time, it’s very time-consuming and difficult and you may run into tons of errors that your applicants have made.

Here are a few ways to make the review process of your scholarship simpler.

Introduce pre-screening

You probably have some requirements for your scholarship that are non-negotiable. For example, you don’t accept applications below a certain GPA. If you want to save time in the review process, make sure that this requirement is filtered for early on. In other words, introduce a pre-screening process so that the most important requirements are handled early on. It’s no use for an application to get all the way to the reviewer, only for them to realize that the applicant doesn’t have the required GPA.

The bottom line is – the reviewer should step in only when they have to personally decide whether the applicant is a good fit or not. If it’s a question of a simple yes/no answer, you can set your scholarship management app to automatically disqualify candidates based on this requirement.

After all, your final goal is to be as productive as possible and spend as little time as possible on boring, administrative tasks.

Automate as much as you can

Let’s face the truth – reviewers have much more to do than look at your scholarship applications. They probably have loads of other assignments and this is just another one on the pile of their daily chores. On top of that, every time you introduce the human element into the scholarship application process, three things happen:

–   Delays

–   Human error

–   Subjectivity

To stop this from happening, automate as much as you can early on. As mentioned, have pre-screening before the actual application starts. Moreover, you should automate the review process so that incoming applications are automatically assigned to specific reviewers. You’ll save time for the scholarship administrators and you’ll reduce chances for potential error.

If there’s a part of the application that can be pre-scored, make it happen. For example, allocate a certain number of points for a certain GPA. If a field has a numeric field, it can be pre-scored. However, if a piece of information cannot be judged on numbers alone, it’s best to leave it to the reviewer.

Remove unnecessary information from your applications

We’ve already talked about how to improve the application process for the candidates. One of the main points was to ask for only the information you need to make a decision, instead of asking for every detail including the name of their first pet. Keep it on a need-to-know basis because you’ll make both the students and the reviewers happy.

Keep the essay criteria super clear

Essays are one of the most important parts of each scholarship. However, most administrators (or business owners) don’t realize that scholarship reviewers may not be naturally great at grading essays. In fact, many of them haven’t written an essay ever since they got out of university and they rarely read them too.

One of the key documents for your reviewers should be a set of extremely clear instructions for grading essays. This can include instructions such as:

–   The applicant should clearly answer the essay question (and the number of points for this criterion)

–   The application should connect the mission of the scholarship with their own interests and goals

–   The applicant should stress how they’re going to achieve these goals when they are awarded the scholarship

–   The essay should flow naturally and logically and be free of grammar, spelling and other errors

–   Etc.

The more detailed, the better. Essays are one of those things where the reviewer can (and should) be objective, so it’s up to you to guide them for most of the way.


The scholarship review process can make a difference between 6 hours or 6 weeks spent on getting a winner for your scholarship. If you keep these techniques in mind, your review process will quicker, more streamlined and it will make the lives of your reviewers much simpler.

And if you’re looking for an app that makes it easy to create a scholarship, gather applications and select a winner in minimal time and with minimal work, you should give ScholarshipApp a try. Not only does it make it super easy to create a scholarship and choose a winner, but it’s also completely free. Reach out to us today so we can show you how to create a successful scholarship within a single day!

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