Information about how to apply for scholarships and
the processes involved
Scholarships Have Three Basic
• FINANCIAL NEED
• MISCELLANEOUS COMPONENTS
Scholarships usually have one, two or three of
these components. The combination and/or
strength of these components will determine how
competitive you are for scholarships.
Merit consists of recent or current grades
Very High Merit is 3.75 and above
High Merit is 3.5
Merit is 3.0
Below 3.0 --there are very few scholarship
opportunities and these almost always have financial
need, gender, or ethnicity as the main component
There are two types of financial need in the
scholarship process—FAFSA need and individual
FAFSA or Free Application for Federal
Financial Aid Offices are required to utilize this
government formula for federal and state grant funds
and student loans. The FAFSA has a formula which
uses income and income taxes, number of people in
the household, age of parents and many other concrete
Some scholarships utilize this formula to determine
Most scholarship applications will ask for an
individual assessment of your budget. This is the place
to discuss special issues that need to be explained in
greater detail. If there is no place for it on the budget
piece, attach a copy of the explanation to the
application. IF the application states no attachments
are allowed you may want to devote some time to the
situation on the essay, if the essay allows for it.
Community Service/Volunteer Work - ANYTHING
you do for others - at an organization such as a
school, church, youth organization or non- profit
facility; helping a neighbor or relative who is a
senior or disabled
Preferences - ethnic minority, first generation
(neither parent has a four year degree), single
parent and female are common
Outside Work - part time or full time employment
Scholarships Have Three Basic
SCHOLARSHIPS INTERNAL TO THE
UNIVERSITY OR COLLEGE
LOCAL AND REGIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS
Scholarships Internal to the University or
These are scholarship offered by the college or
university and are offered in general categories
College or degree specific within a university
General college/university scholarships available to all
students who meet the specific eligibility requirements
Applications processes vary by college or university
from one application for all, an application for each
scholarship or other various processes. Check with
Local and Regional Scholarships
Local organizations - credit unions, churches,
organizations in which parents or students are
Regional and state-wide organizations - such as labor
unions, associations and non-profit groups
These are highly competitive scholarships at a
national level and more difficult to get
Apply for these if you are competitive or after you
have applied for the university and regional
A Strategy for Locating
DEVELOP AN ONGOING LIST OF
There is no good or bad time to apply as the process is
Add it to your list for next year
Develop a separate calendar to log scholarship data.
Include scholarship name, date due, a back up date of
six weeks to allow time to get an application and
complete it, requirements of scholarship (application,
transcript, essay, references) and additional comments
Locate scholarships at each college or university you
are seriously considering. Apply for any scholarships
for which you are eligible by the deadlines. In most
cases you will have to be accepted into the university
before you can apply. There are also regional and
national scholarships designated for entering
freshmen students. You can receive these only the first
time you are entering college.
Begin with the college or university you are attending.
Locate all scholarships for your year group, major,
ethnicity or gender and any other miscellaneous ones
that apply to you.
Develop an Ongoing List
Realize that the process is ongoing. Develop a year
round calendar. There is one available on the
Scholarship/Resource web site in the “Scholarship
MAINTAIN OR IMPROVE GRADES
CLUBS OR ORGANIZATIONS
Good in high school? Great. Build on it. Otherwise
this is a chance to start anew!
SELECTING THE REFEREE
PROVIDE AMPLE TIME
RESUME OR PERSONAL PROFILE
EXPLAIN SCHOLARSHIP CRITERIA
DON’T FORGET THE DETAILS
Provide a resume or profile (web)
One or two faculty members or teachers who know your
A supervisor who has worked with you in your work or
Selecting the Referee
First, carefully select the person you think will write
the best letter – and the best letter for the particular
scholarship at hand. Your youth group counselor may
remember and respect you but for a music scholarship,
ask other people. Consider asking for a letter from your
professor, mentor, supervisor, colleague, or associate in
community or voluntary work. Family and friends are
not appropriate. Ask for help if you are uncertain
whom to ask. And don’t forget that occasionally a
request for a letter of recommendation is declined. Be
prepared to promptly ask another person.
Provide Ample Time
Second, provide ample time for your referee to compose the
best letter possible, preferably four to six weeks. Your letter
writer is likely to lead a full life and be busy writing other
letters, especially in the spring. If you are attaching the
letter to your scholarship application, ask to have it at least
two weeks before the deadline. Call or e-mail a week or 10
days before the deadline if you haven’t received it. Even if
the application specifies that letters should be mailed
directly by the referee, you may ask for a copy – and don’t
hesitate to do so if you have any concerns at all about the
contents. Strong letters can really help, but weak
recommendations always hurt.
Resume or Personal Profile
Give each referee either a resume or personal profile
with all of your activities as each referee usually does
not know all of your activities in detail
Explain Scholarship Criteria
Attach a copy of your application, if you choose, so the
person will know exactly what the application requires
and why. In any event, let them know the kind of letter
needed and the qualities, skills, and abilities
emphasized in the scholarship application. Let your
referee know in writing:
When the letter is due
To whom the letter should be addressed
For what scholarship you are applying
Don’t Forget the Details
Include a stamped and self-addressed envelope.
Double-check the address: does the letter go directly
to the scholarship source or are you told to include it
with your application, so the mailing address should
be your own home? Did you provide accurate contact
information to your letter writer?
The essay is the most important part of any
PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES
TELL OTHERS WHAT MAKES YOU UNIQUE
Each scholarship should provide guidelines as to the
length and topic for the essay. A typical scholarship
essay is short, generally from 250 to 500 words, typed
Remember, the scholarship selection committee only
has the information you provide about yourself to
assist them with the selection process. It is up to you to
provide any relevant information through your essay
This outline is a way to start thinking about your essay.
You don’t have to follow this format if you have a more
creative way to describe yourself to the scholarship
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
The scholarship selection committee must look for
reasons to put people in the “no” pile – but don’t let
them do this to you.
In addition to basic information such as major/minor,
explain what areas of emphasis you are pursuing in
college and why. Explain what makes you unique and
why you qualify for this particular scholarship. Tailor
your essay to the specifics of each scholarship. Let
them know what makes you a good investment. Be
sure to include information about any strengths or
skills you have and any obstacles that you have
overcome. Share as much personal information as feels
right to you. How will you stand out from the crowd?
Tell Others What Makes You
Where do you come from?
What is your history?
What is your family history?
Are you the first generation in your family to go to college?
What did your parents do for a living?
If you are an older student, what have you been doing on your life?
Who are you now?
What are you doing with your life?
Where do you want to go? Why?
What are your educational plans and goals?
What are your career goals?
How will this scholarship help?
What is your dream for life?