Position profile: Scholarship Program Specialist

Learn more about the position in the job posting.

  • Job Title: Scholarship Program Specialist
  • Work Unit: Apprenticeship and Student Aid, Student Services
  • Ministry: Alberta Advanced Education
  • Competition Number: 1056044

Purpose

The Scholarship Program Specialist facilitates program delivery of scholarships, bursaries and awards by providing support and program interpretation; including background information, eligibility criteria, regulation interpretation, and applications' processes to internal and external stakeholders. The Scholarship Program Specialist administers 60+ scholarships, awards, and bursaries, valued at $83 million; priority and workflow is driven by scholarship due dates, which typically are on the 1st, 15th or 30th of a month. This includes providing timely, fair and equitable evaluations by reviewing, screening, and assessing applications to determine eligibility in accordance with established criteria; electronic processing and records management; and coordinating external selection committees for numerous scholarships.

Recommendations for the improvement of the overarching Scholarship Program are developed by the Specialist based on the in-depth program knowledge and assessment of day-to-day operational issues. The Scholarship Program Specialist requires exceptional skills in program management, program development and delivery, research, communications and stakeholder relations.

The Specialist provides consultation and information services to ensure stakeholders have access to current information pertaining to awards criteria, eligibility and application processes. This position is relied on to develop effective working relationships with representatives of Student Aid Alberta (SAA) business areas, various departments, various Ministries, and educational institutions to facilitate the ongoing operation and continual improvement of scholarship programming.

The position identifies changes needed to operational policies and procedures by identifying trends in student requests and gaps in current policy/procedures. This position also participates in the development and revision of operational policies, practices, and procedures in response to changes in legislation, program policies, criteria, program initiatives and system operations. System changes and new business rules are tested by the Specialist prior to full implementation. The Specialist also monitors the processes throughout the year to ensure correct assessments are taking place. This position is relied on to work closely other team members and the Manager to plan, coordinate, and organize resources to facilitate the effective delivery of the scholarship programming.

Reporting to the Manager, Scholarships and Service Provider Relations, this position performs all responsibilities within the context of relevant Government and Ministry legislation, policies, directives, and guidelines.

Responsibilities and Activities

Facilitate Program Delivery: Scholarship Administration in alignment with program policies, processes and criteria to effectively deliver scholarships, awards, and bursaries as per their mandate.

  • Review, assess, and evaluate, the eligibility criteria for each scholarship, bursary, and award.
  • Follow up with applicants and stakeholders regarding applications, required documentation and missing information.
  • Coordinate and provide support to external review committees by developing applicant lists and interpreting eligibility criteria to aid the committees during the selection process.
  • Process on line applications by completing reviews and reassessments for the Alexander Rutherford Scholarship and determine eligibility and appeal results on the Student Finance System (SFS).
  • Review and execute bursary agreements for recipients before payments are processed.
  • Administer and validate scholarship applications nominated by educational institutions, ensure eligibility criteria are met as well as quotas are not exceeded and on budget.
  • Develop and translate program criteria into operational guidelines.
  • Investigate and provide timely solutions to issues as they arise and provide responses to queries from internal departments, stakeholders, and applicants.
  • Provide training and coaching to internal staff as well as new staff to administer and maintain operational efficiencies of the scholarship program.

Program and Policy Management to sustain scholarship program integrity and effectiveness.

  • Provide recommendations regarding the effectiveness of applicable policies and procedures associated with the delivery of scholarships, awards, and bursaries.
  • Provide statistical reporting to the Manager on operational performance of the scholarship program for planning purposes.
  • Ensure compliance of eligibility criteria for all scholarships, awards, and bursaries to sustain program integrity in accordance with relevant legislation.
  • Maintain and process all electronic and paper files in accordance with ministry records management requirements.
  • Collaborate with committees and external stakeholders to provide program understanding (i.e. policies and procedures) and promote a fair and equitable selection process.

Communication, consultation and information services related to scholarships, awards, and bursaries.

  • Resolve conflict and complex issues as they arise.
  • Respond to queries from internal/external stakeholders and management.
  • Maintain electronic documentation submitted by students on SFS for all scholarships, awards, and bursaries to ensure that submissions are reviewed and processed.
  • Collaborate with post-secondary institutions regarding complex confirmation of multiple criteria effecting the status of student scholarships, awards and bursaries.
  • Provide input to the Business and Systems Support team in relation to scholarship program administration requirements and processes; participates in system testing relating to scholarships, awards and bursary administration.
  • Participate as a representative of the scholarship program in the scholarship review as well as special projects with internal and external partners.
  • Respond to queries regarding HUGH and SFS in relation to scholarships, awards, and bursaries; including eligibility and payment distribution information; prepare and generate associated reports and summaries.
  • Liaise with Information Resources to ensure accuracy of scholarship program information available on the Student Aid Alberta website and internal and external resources.
  • Create and maintain forms and templates to support the effectiveness and accuracy of scholarships, awards and bursaries.
  • Manage multiple scholarship email inboxes for internal and external stakeholders.
  • Collaborate with fellow unit staff to shift priorities and work flows to meet timelines and deliverables to sustain the integrity of scholarship programming.

Contribute to the unit's achievement of its mandate and goals.

  • Determine impact of proposed new or revised policies and programs on scholarship operations.
  • Develop options for resolving or addressing issues, which might lead to the development of new or revised operational policies, practices, or guidelines.
  • Identify inconsistencies or issues with operational policies, practices and procedures that emerge during the scholarship processes.
  • Identify emerging trends and opportunities relating to the assessment function and recommend potential operational strategies.
  • Participate in committees and teams at the Branch and Ministry levels, as well as at the cross-ministry level as assigned.
  • Remain current and informed as to relevant issues and developments, pro-actively recommending strategies and responses to address emerging and ongoing issues.
  • Represent the Unit's perspective and input into to the design of scholarship applications and related information materials.
  • Test new procedures associated with system changes or modifications prior and post implementation.
  • Provide orientation and ongoing coaching to staff identified to assist in delivery of scholarships.

Scope

The work of this position has a direct impact on the efficient and effective delivery of multiple scholarships, awards and bursaries to learners, which contributes to their level of funding for post-secondary education. The position maintains program integrity of each scholarship, award and bursary by demonstrating good judgement while adhering to policy and processes within stated timelines.

The Specialist is responsible for coordinating and executing the complete administration process from start to finish (e.g., review and revise criteria as needed, review applications, coordinate review panels as needed, all reporting, respond to queries, and payment processing). Specialists can be assigned to any of the existing scholarships, awards and bursaries requiring them to maintain knowledge and expertise of the full scholarship program portfolio. The Specialist works with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders throughout the process to provide guidance, advice, responses to queries, and to communicate scholarship information.

Incumbents must take a comprehensive program approach when administering scholarships, awards and bursaries so consistent standards are maintained across the entire portfolio.

The Specialist utilizes existing legislation, program policies and processes as well as the specific criteria and structure of each scholarship, award and bursary when problem solving. Judgement is required to interpret policy and process and to determine how best to proceed when novel situations emerge. The Manager is available to support problem solving and conflict resolution, with the Specialist maintaining a central role in determining how best to proceed and communicating that direction to stakeholders, partners, and internal staff. Significant impact to the integrity or finances of a scholarship identified by the incumbent are referred to the Manager.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

Knowledge and Skills

  • Strong knowledge of overarching student aid and scholarship legislation, policies and processes and operations to align scholarship processes and criteria (e.g., Student Aid Act and Regulations, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Alberta Heritage Scholarship Act and Regulations);
  • Thorough knowledge and understanding of the aims and goals of the overarching scholarship programs and its connection to student funding in Alberta;
  • Strong knowledge of the specific scholarships goals, criteria and processes;
  • Knowledge of the external stakeholder groups associated with scholarships (e.g., post-secondary institutions, community groups, private donors);
  • Strong knowledge of relevant information systems, databases, and business productivity software tools (i.e. Microsoft Office - Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook; internet/ intranet; Student Finance System, HUGH, ECMI, ATOMS, Learner Registry)
  • Strong interpersonal and consultation skills, including ability to handle sensitive and/or unusual situations and build relationships with educational institutions, other departments, and community organizations;
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills;
  • Organizational and time management skills to prioritize multiple responsibilities, meet deadlines, and multi-task across multiple scholarships at one time;
  • Strong analytical skills to compile, assess and present information;
  • Judgement and decision-making skills to assess applications in relation to established criteria; develop and recommend viable solutions; and determine outcomes of reassessments;
  • Research skills to provide comprehensive background information to queries and to add evidence to the identification of suggestions for improvement;
  • Ability to pay close attention to accuracy and detail;
  • Commitment to confidentiality, tact, diplomacy, and client service;
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Intermediate/Advanced computer skills

The Scholarship Program Specialist must be able to:

  • multi-task, manage time effectively, pro-actively identify concerns and recommendations relating to responsibilities;
  • consistently demonstrate sound professional judgement;
  • function independently as well as contribute within a team environment;
  • demonstrate leadership, initiative, creativity, and flexibility;
  • work in a fast-paced, high-volume, and client-service oriented environment;

Education and experience

  • Two year diploma in a related field plus four years related experience or equivalent combinations.

Contacts

Clients Frequency Nature and Purpose of Contact
Internal
All units within Student Aid Daily provide information, advice and support related to scholarship programs; participate on working groups and committees;

collaborate on achieving unit goals; share information; provide backup and assistance as needed
     
Other departments across different Ministries Daily provide and collect information related to scholarship assessments and eligibility criteria as needed;

share scholarship information with stakeholders;
     
External
Educational Institutions (EI), Donors and Committees Weekly provide and exchange information; clarify and interpret scholarship policy and processes;

provide associated advice and consultation; investigate and resolve unusual or sensitive issues; provide options and recommendations; and collaborate on initiatives and projects; coordinate and guide selection committees;

confirm information relating to applicant eligibility;

collect EI declarations prior to payment of scholarships, awards and bursaries;
     
Applicants Daily interpret scholarship policy, criteria and processes; assess requirements for information and determine eligibility for scholarships, awards, and bursaries; review and complete appeals for scholarships, awards and bursaries
     

Supervision Exercised

  • N/A

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