Fastweb and the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA)conducted a survey of NSPA members to understand the extent to which scholarship providers use the web and social media to evaluate
scholarship applicants. NSPA has more than 300 members who collectively award more than $1 billion in scholarships each year. About a quarter of
the NSPA members responded to the survey.
Key findings from the survey included:
1. About a quarter of scholarship providers use web search sites like Google and/or social media web sites like Facebook,LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter to search for online information
about scholarship applicants. Most screen only finalists due to a lack of resources to screen all applicants.
2. Three quarters of the scholarship providers were looking for one or more red flags, mostly for signs that the scholarship applicant might reflect badly on the scholarship sponsor.
They wanted to see whether the applicant demonstrates good judgment, and were looking for provocative or inappropriate photographs or remarks, illegal activities (e.g., underage
drinking and use of narcotics), insensitive or discriminatory remarks or a negative attitude. A quarter reviewed the student's online presence to identify or resolve conflicting
information about the applicant, such as lies about qualifications listed on the application form.
3. More than half of the scholarship providers review an applicant's online presence to get to know the applicant better, to look for creativity and other positive personality
traits or to evaluate real life communication skills.
4. A third of scholarship providers who reviewed an applicant's online presence have denied an applicant a scholarship and a quarter have granted an applicant a scholarship because of
information they found out about them online.
A report on the survey may be found at
An article for students about the survey, with tips about developing a professional online presence, can be seen at