How to Start a Scholarship Fund

How to start a scholarship fundCreating a scholarship fund is a very rewarding experience. Scholarships can provide life-changing opportunities for students wishing to go to college.

People and companies create scholarship funds for many different reasons. They may create a scholarship to honor or continue the legacy of somebody. Another reason to create a scholarship fund is to give back to your community.

If you are interested in setting up an award either by yourself or with a company, you can follow these steps on how to start a scholarship fund.

Step 1: Determine the Purpose of the Scholarship

With the high costs involved in a college education, there are millions of students who are in need of a scholarship. You need to decide who you want to help.

Many scholarships award students of a particular ethnic or cultural background, gender, or geographic region. Other scholarships help students who are pursuing a specific major like medicine or social work.

You can name your scholarship fund in a way which characterizes its purpose, such as “The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship” or the “Chick and Sophie Major Duck Calling Memorial Scholarship.”

There are so many different reasons to award scholarships and you need to decide who you want your target population to be.

Step 2: Set Your Budget

fundNow that you have determined your target population, it’s time to think about expenses. You need to decide how much money you want to award.

Keep in mind that awarding a scholarship comes with extra expenses. If you are awarding a scholarship for $2,500, you won’t be paying only $2,500. There will be additional expenses involved, such as setting up a website and promoting your scholarship.

Many scholarships are tax deductible. You may want to consult with a tax expert before you make a final decision.

Step 3: Look for Funding

How are you going to pay for the scholarship? If you are setting up a personal fund, do you have the money? If you are setting up the fund for your company, how are they going to cover the expenses?

A great way to get funds for the scholarship is through a fundraiser. You can request donations through fundraising events or online crowdfunding sites.

Step 4: Choose the Criteria

Now you need to decide how you’ll judge applications. Many scholarships choose scholarship winners based on financial need, academic achievement, or community involvement. Another popular option is to judge applicants based on their scholarship essay.

Step 5: Determine the Application Process

Now that you have decided your target population and criteria, you will need to determine the logistics of the application process. You need to decide how students will apply to your scholarship.

Do you want to offer an online application, paper application or both? Online applications are easier to keep track of and choosing a winner is faster.

When creating the application, be mindful of the length. Long applications may discourage students from applying. Try to keep it short and to the point.  

You will also need to set the scholarship deadline. Most scholarship deadlines are between January to May. However, you can set a deadline anytime throughout the year. Make sure you give applicants enough time to apply.

Step 6: Advertise

If you want students to apply to your scholarship, then you will need to promote it. How will students find out about your scholarship fund?

fundsA great tool to use here is social media. You can advertise your scholarship fund on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You may also want to consider creating a website.

If you are awarding the scholarship to a student in your community, talk to local high schools and colleges. If you are looking to advertise the scholarship to a bigger pool, you will want to get your scholarship fund posted on scholarship sites and apps.  

Make sure that you promote your scholarship for at least three months prior to the deadline. Students need time to fill out the application, write the essay, and get letters of recommendation.

Step 7: Awarding the Scholarship

Now you have reached the final step. Will you award the scholarship to students on a one-time basis, or will it be a renewable scholarship? This may depend on the funds you have available.

Keep in mind that scholarships are to be used for educational expenses only. You should consider transferring the scholarship funds directly to the school and not to the student.

awardIf you choose to do this, you must state how the funds should be used. Can the students use them for additional expenses like books and housing? Or does the scholarship only cover tuition?

Finally, it may be necessary to keep track of the scholarship over time. Some students don’t make use of the scholarship right away.

Although it is easy to set up a scholarship fund, it does require a time commitment. One option is to choose to work with a scholarship management service. These services can do all of the administration work for you (for a small fee of course).  

Creating a scholarship fund is a great way to help a student pay for college. Whether you are setting up the fund on your own, or for your company, make sure to take care of all the details mentioned above to make sure things go smoothly.