Supporting Students Through Scholarships: Developing Funding for Fee-Based Students 

Creating and sharing opportunities for scholarships for fee-based programs can deliver big returns for students and support your program’s future.  

One reason you should consider developing a scholarship is “to increase the accessibility to your program by helping people that might not be able to afford it,” says Jessica Mosa, a Partner Success Lead (PSL) at Continuum College. “Developing a scholarship can sound intimidating, but if you have the funding and people that are willing to review applications and dedicate time to the scholarship process, it's pretty feasible,” she says.

If you’re interested in supporting current or prospective students in your program, Continuum College’s PSLs, Jessica Mosa and Marissa Heringer, have tips from setting up a scholarship with a fee-based program and managing state fellowships. They’ve also gathered insights and helpful resources from across campus on scholarships you can create and ways that you might be able to fund them.

1. Consider What You’re Hoping to Accomplish With Your Scholarship

“When you’re setting up a scholarship, it’s important to have an idea of what you want the scholarship to accomplish or what kind of need you want the scholarship to address,” says Heringer. “There's a variety of different types of scholarships, but what’ll work best for you is dependent on your program and students.” Here are a few different types of scholarships you can choose from: 

Merit-based: Funds awarded to students based on desirable skills or experiences. 

Need-based: Funds awarded to students based on financial need, generally as determined by the Office of Financial Aid.

Recruitment: Funds awarded to top prospective students based on program application information.

Student Travel Support: Funds to support student travel to conferences, on-site research, etc., that may be required or enhance their learning experience.

Matching Funds: Your department provides funds to students to match external awards. 

2. Determine Available Funding Sources and Scope of the Awards

Any amount of funding is helpful to students. Consider the amount of funding available, the size of the awards you’d like to provide (is it one full scholarship or a few partial scholarships?) and what the award will cover (will it cover program costs, or will it include textbooks as well?). It’s entirely up to you. Common sources of funding include: 

Net Revenue: Think about setting aside a portion of annual net revenue or other discretionary funds to pour back into the program and provide funding for a student scholarship. “A best practice is to use net revenue funds to cover your scholarship,” Mosa says. 

Budget: “You could build scholarship expenses into your budget each year,” explains Heringer. “That would be a conversation you would want to have with your PSL during your annual budget planning.”

Donor: Find funding from an alumni or community donor who would support scholarships for your program. “You can create endowed scholarships for fee-based programs, and I think that's something folks might not think of right away,” Heringer says. “But seeking a donor to create an endowment or using a current endowment and offering those scholarships to a fee-based student is an option.”

3. Define Your Scholarship Timeline

You may award scholarships at any point during the year. “There are recruitment scholarships offered as part of the admission package and scholarships you can offer throughout the year for fees associated with the program,” says Heringer. What’s most important is to think about the type of award, amount and cadence of your program. 

For example, if your program has priority registration, ideally, that deadline should come after students know if they got the scholarship or not. “That way, students don't have to be in a position where they're having to decide whether or not they want to lose their spot in the program or risk signing up for a program they may not be able to afford,” says Mosa.

When planning your timeline, you might also want to incorporate at least two weeks to advertise your scholarship, one to two weeks to review applications and come to a consensus on the recipient and one week to distribute the award. If this is the first time you’re offering a scholarship, it’s a good idea to plan additional time for the scholarship cycle to navigate any unexpected circumstances.

4. Confirm Scholarship Logistics

Before each application cycle begins, you’ll also want to think through the logistics of the entire process. “Consider things like what questions you would like to ask in the application, if additional materials will be required of applicants and who's reviewing the applications,” says Heringer. “Also, think about how you're going to distribute the scholarship, how you’ll assess the scholarship success, and the student experience through the process” she says. 

Additional Scholarships and Resources for Students

Creating a scholarship isn’t the only way to support students with finding funding for your fee-based program. You can also direct students to the following resources:

Graduate Funding Information Service

Graduate School List of Fellowships

The Office of Fellowships and Awards, Graduate School

Diversity Funding Opportunities

Applying for Financial Aid

Financial Aid Fee-Based Program Eligibility  

Veterans Education Benefits Office

The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards (For undergraduates)

Want to learn more about scholarships and funds for students in fee-based programs? Reach out to your PSL for help on the scholarship setup process — including timeline, design of application questions, application format, etc., promoting scholarship opportunities or applying awards to student accounts.