DePaul Scholarship Connect Improves Scholarship Process

The cost of college is among the top challenges facing students and higher education institutions across the country.  The DePaul Scholarship Fair, hosted by EMM’s Office of Financial Aid (OFA) on May 14 in Lincoln Park and May 21 in the Loop, introduced students to one of the many ways DePaul is helping make a college education more affordable.  

Representatives from 14 college offices and departments joined OFA at the fair to provide information and answer questions about their scholarship offerings.  OFA partnered with the Career Center to offer scholarship essay advice, and the Office of Advancement to showcase the generous donors who make many of the scholarships possible.  One of the highlights of the fair was the unveiling of the newly renamed online scholarship tool, DePaul Scholarship Connect.

Streamlined Process Matches More Students with Scholarships
DePaul annually awards about 600 distinct scholarships through more than 50 departments. ​ Historically, the process was decentralized, which created a number of issues, including:
  • Students were frustrated because the process was confusing and difficult to navigate.
  • Departments and college offices had limited resources to manage application volume and scholarship processes, which often became inefficient.  
  • Donors were disappointed because funds were sometimes unused, which created problems for the Office of Advancement in their efforts to solicit more funding.  
  • OFA spent a disproportionate amount of time directing traffic as opposed to helping students.
An interdepartmental scholarship taskforce from the Office of Advancement, Academic Fiscal Administration and OFA formed in 2010 to address these issues, ultimately recommending an enterprise solution to consolidate scholarship processes.  The resulting product, DePaul Scholarship Connect, was introduced in November 2012 and use by students has increased every year since.

Students submit a general application in Scholarship Connect, which is automatically matched with their academic and demographic information in PeopleSoft. At this point, they can be considered for all general scholarships for which they meet the minimum requirements.  Based on their responses and their student record, applicants may also be matched with additional scholarships with more specific criteria.  Scholarship Connect alerts students to these opportunities and serves them any additional required questions.

Once a student’s application(s) is complete, it is forwarded to the appropriate scholarship committee for review.  Committee members rate the applicant and enter scores into Scholarship Connect, which combines the rankings for each applicant.  The committee uses the combined rankings to choose a recipient, who then receives an email award notification through the system.  Throughout the process, applicants are updated on the status of their application on Scholarship Connect’s dashboard.  

The tool has been instrumental in improving DePaul’s scholarship application and awarding processes.  Students can now apply for many scholarships in a centralized location through a straightforward and transparent process.  Colleges and departments administer their processes through the tool, creating a much more efficient workflow. Donors are more prominently featured, recognizing them for their generosity.  And OFA is able to focus their resources on service (both to students and administrators), ensuring a more successful user experience.

Scholarship Connect Use on the Rise
Since it was introduced in 2012, use of the tool has increased dramatically.  General scholarship applications are up 54 percent in just three years while total scholarship applications are up 45 percent.  The number of departments using the tool has risen 32 percent during that time.  The amount of money awarded through the tool in FY15 was over $1.9 million, up 24 percent since FY13.

OFA continues to bring new departments into the tool, as well as explore additional improvements. One planned enhancement is to integrate Scholarship Connect more closely with Campus Connect.

To learn more about DePaul Scholarship Connect, please contact Amy Moncher, associate director of Financial Aid.