Scholarship Process, Made Simple

students walk through the middle of campus on a wide sidewalk

You are finally back into the semester routine and seem to be caught up with all of your assignments. Yet, without realizing it, you have to start preparing for your next semester. Putting together your class schedule can be hard to handle. But what is more important is the fast approaching scholarship application deadline. Certainly, searching for the best scholarships is overwhelming and time-consuming. That is why, after realizing how many 500-word essays students would have to write, many quit before even getting started.  

Students tend to panic when trying to find scholarships that are right for them. How do you know which awards you are qualified for? Can you apply for more than one? Do you have to submit a separate application and essay for each of them? Can you find all of the information online or do you have to talk to someone? Luckily, Steven C. Farney, Ed.D., senior director of administration from the Division of Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM), has the answers. He recently celebrated his 13th year at Rowan University, the last three of which have been spent working at SEM.

Before applying for scholarships, you need to understand what types of awards are available. Rowan distinguishes two different types of scholarships:

  • Scholarships you can receive when you first apply to Rowan (freshmen, transfer students and international students). These awards typically do not require an additional application.
  • Scholarships for continuing students (current students). These grants require an application and very often an essay.

SEM is responsible for both of them. While the Admissions office handles 99 percent of the incoming students’ scholarships, the bulk of which is merit-based, in 2015 SEM implemented a new scholarship application process for continuing students to make the process easier to use and more streamlined. Software called AwardSpring centralizes the listings and requirements for all of the different scholarships for continuing students. And, in 2016, SEM has added Admissions and some College scholarships for your convenience. The goal is to have everyone at Rowan using the same software, so that students can have one-stop-shop when researching and applying for scholarships. 

What does this mean to you as a student?

students study at tables in the library in early eveningIf you are tired of searching online, asking academic advisors about different scholarships and writing 10 different essays, then simply log in to and start your application now. All you have to do is to apply, which takes approximately 15 minutes, and the system will automatically show what scholarships you are qualified for. By clicking on the dashboard, you can choose the one that is right for you and apply. You have one main application to complete covering the criteria for all of the scholarships. In addition, Rowan requires you to submit three recommendation letters. You can fill out the request form and email it via the website. For the most part, you only write an essay once, unless you want to apply for specialized scholarships with specific criteria. The website will indicate whether or not you need to submit an additional essay. Depending on the type of the award you choose, either the Financial Aid committee, the department or College will decide whether you will be scholarship winner. 

AwardSpring has 259 scholarships to offer, and over time SEM plans to include some external scholarships for students to consider as well. SEM is implementing  AwardSpring for a second year in a row, and launched it earlier this year, so the students will have the whole semester to work on the applications. The system allows you to do everything in phases. You don’t not have to sit down and do it all in one shot. While the academic questions will take 15 minutes at most, you can come back later and include your carefully crafted essay.

How to increase your chances of winning a scholarship?

two students study together over a laptop in the libraryAlthough, many scholarships are major specific and require a strong GPA, a meaningful essay helps too. Many of the past winners had thoughtful essays. Writing three sentences in the essay part indicates that you are not taking it seriously enough. On the bottom of the ‘general information’ you will find a window where you need to type in your essay. Make sure you save it every couple of minutes, as you do not want to start everything all over again. The online application does not have an auto correct function. Thus, first, type your essay with a word processor program, and only then paste and submit it. You will have 4,000 words to describe why you deserve an award.

Why is AwardSpring beneficial to both students and the staff?

Aside from the fact that AwardSpring is easy to utilize, it encompasses almost all of Rowan’s internal scholarships in one place. The software allows Rowan to better monitor this money to avoid overspending and issuing the wrong amount.

Let’s say a student living off campus gets a $15,000 scholarship. The tuition at Rowan is approximately $12,000 a year, plus $500 on books. In that case, where does the remaining money go? Well, it depends on the scholarship, so always refer to the fine print. In some cases, the issuing organization will receive the rest of the money back. And sometimes, the award carries over multiple years. The scholarship software allows Financial Aid to transfer the remaining balance to another student, who may have received a smaller award or, in some cases, did not receive an award at all.

Applying for a scholarship is no longer mind-boggling. Mistakenly, some students think scholarships are a waste of time and require too much effort for a low possibility of obtaining a prize. Now, your chances of winning an award are a couple of clicks away. Take time to perfect your essay, especially if have an average GPA. And think of it this way: even if it took you five hours to complete your application and you win only a $500 scholarship you have made $100 per hour – time well-spent. So, log in to and start your application today to see what awards you are qualified for.

Were you planning on applying for scholarships this semester? Have you already used AwardSpring to search for the awards? Let us know in the comments below.

By: Natalia Panfilova