How to Evaluate and Score Scholarship Applications

July 8, 2018

So you created a scholarship, you have applications submitted and now you are wondering what the best way is to evaluate and score scholarship applications. Having selection criteria is extremely important, and even more important if you have more than one person evaluating your scholarship applications.




So how do you best evaluate scholarship applications?


We got you covered with this blog post. Here we’ll explain a few different ways you can successfully evaluate student scholarship applications, provide tools and scholarship rubrics that you can download and conclude with our best suggestions for choosing a scholarship winner.



Let’s get started

Before we dive deeper, it’s important to go back to your scholarships mission and selection criteria. What were the key criteria in your scholarship application, and why? Take a minute to list these:


Scholarship application criteria 1:_________________


Scholarship application criteria 2:_________________


Scholarship application criteria 3:_________________


Scholarship application criteria 4:_________________


Scholarship application criteria 5:_________________


If you are having trouble thinking of criteria to include as part of your scholarship selection, we encourage you to look at your scholarship description and choose key points from there.


Alright, now that we have our application criteria listed in front of us, we can move on to looking at different ways to evaluate scholarship applications.


Create a Rubric

A rubric is a document that outlines how the scholarship application/documents are to be read and graded/scored. We highly suggest that most scholarship readers and programs use a rubric, because it helps readers keep consistent with minimum personal value bias. Keep the rubrics after selecting applicants also helps scholarship managers understand why a student or students were chosen as a winner. This system of evaluation for scholarship applications is the most popular amongst evaluators and scholarship managers.


Tip: For an example of what a good scholarship rubric looks like, click here.


Tie Breaker: Have another reviewer or two grade the scholarship applications.


Best for:

  • Individuals and groups

  • Small and large number of applications

  • Highly recommended for most groups


Rank Applications

Using this system, scholarship providers would be assigned a set number to applications to read and then rank all of the read applications amongst each other. This would mean that if there were 6 applications, the best application would be ranked number 1 and the least favorite application would be ranked number 6.


If you have many scholarship applications to read and many application readers, then you would pass around each set of x number of applications between 3-5 people. This allows multiple people to rank each set of applications without overwhelming the readers.


To conclude a winner, you would add up the score of ranks among all applications. The application with the lowest score would be the winner.

Tip: Make sure each set of applications is read the same number of times. It’s also helpful to print out applications or keep them in a specific and differentiated file, keep the set of applications together and to not let reviewers see previous members rankings. This also requires you to set due dates for reviewers in when they need to finish ranking applicants by.


Tie breaker: If you need a tie breaker between student applications, you can add an extra point to if the student was not ranked in the top three by a reviewer. You can also look to see who had the most first place ranks, etc.


Best for:

  • Large number of scholarship applications

  • Many scholarship application readers