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Drake University: Taking Scholarship Management from Manual to Modern

, | June 1, 2023 | By

Drake University, a private institution in Des Moines, Iowa, prides itself on delivering “a world-class education with personal attention.” And with over 700 institutional scholarship funds and a $500 million endowment, the university provides many opportunities for students to tap into additional funds to support their educational goals.

But manual, decentralized scholarship application processes, managed by individual departments, make scholarship management difficult. Most departments use individual forms for each scholarship they offer, making the application process burdensome for students. The financial aid office, responsible for the management and disbursement of scholarships, relies on Excel-driven, manual processes that are time-consuming and inefficient. And without full visibility across the distributed awarding processes, it’s difficult to know how many funds the university is leaving unallocated.

Ryan Zantingh, Director of Financial Aid at Drake University, knew something needed to change. He proposed the idea of implementing an automated scholarship management solution to eliminate the manual, paper-based processes, and support for his proposal to modernize scholarship management grew. The financial aid office, CFO, advancement office, Registrar, IT, and scholarship manager all saw value in automating scholarship management, and after evaluating a number of solutions, Drake University selected Regent Fund and is currently implementing the solution.

From Manual to Modern

Today, applying for institutional scholarships at Drake University is highly manual. Within many departments, students must complete a separate application for each scholarship. The financial aid department receives different forms and submissions from each department, making the disbursement process tedious and time-consuming. And with data distributed across multiple systems and departments, it's difficult, if not impossible, to know how much money is left to award. 

To further complicate the situation, the financial aid office struggles to gain visibility across the distributed processes. They know they are leaving money on the table. But the question is, how much?
With the implementation of Regent Fund, everything will change. The team, led by Zantingh, anticipates numerous benefits including more efficient and effective processing, greater visibility and collaboration across departments, and better reporting. Instead of spending time on manual processes, the team estimates they will save a full FTE’s worth of time, enabling the team to re-allocate their time to support students throughout their financial aid journey.

Two-way integration between Regent Fund and their Banner SIS will improve ad hoc reporting and provide greater visibility into relevant applicant data, such as GPA or financial need, as well. While the university currently has data, it’s all over the place. And that makes it difficult to see a clear picture of applicants to determine who is the best recipient of an award. Using Regent Fund’s two-way integration, Drake University will have the ability to pull data from multiple colleges within the university and gain a holistic view of applicants and available awards, which will lead to better, more informed decisions.

As well, Zantingh believes that Regent Fund will increase visibility into available awards so that the team can quickly leverage dollars more effectively throughout the recruiting process. 

“We need to make scholarship decisions quickly because we want to incorporate them into our awarding strategy. Once awarding begins,  you need to move fast,” said Zantingh. “With Regent Fund, we expect to have better visibility into available awards so we can make quick decisions that maximize our awards and help us hit enrollment goals.”

A Better Scholarship Process for Students

Students today have high expectations. They expect everything to be digital, and when it’s not, they become frustrated. That’s another reason why modernizing the scholarship management process is so important. 

With Regent Fund, the university will finally have the ability to eliminate paper forms and multiple, different applications. And, they’ll have the ability to deliver a more efficient, effective, digital experience that better aligns with the expectations of today’s students.

“When the School of Education gives a student a Word document that they need to print off, complete, and submit, the experience doesn’t align with their expectations,” said Zantingh. “So my hope is that Regent Fund will improve the scholarship process for students. It has to, because their expectation is digital first.”

As well, Regent Fund will enable the university to collect thank-you notes from students that scholarship administrators can share with donors to show appreciation for their generous awards.

Partnering for Success

Together, Drake University and Regent Education are taking the university’s scholarship management processes from manual and time-consuming to modern, automated, and efficient. Once implemented, Drake University will have greater visibility across their decentralized processes so they can make better use of every institutional scholarship dollar. They’ll eliminate paper-based forms which will streamline the management and disbursement of financial aid, freeing up financial aid staff to focus more on students. They’ll also provide students with a better, digital experience that aligns with their expectations. 

Further, Drake University anticipates that the implementation of Regent Fund will support the university’s continuous improvement plan (CIP) by:

  • Improving service excellence using a modern scholarship platform that provides greater visibility into available scholarships for prospects and students
  • Increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of scholarship administration by leveraging available student information and enabling greater collaboration among scholarship stakeholders 
  • Improving financial performance by using donor-funded scholarships to drive maximum impact on enrollment outcomes
  • Reducing the need for additional staff, even as Drake’s scholarship portfolio grows

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