10 Tips for Applying for Available Scholarships
The key to applying for scholarships is to be thorough, and to carefully follow each available scholarship’s instructions.
1. Confirm that you meet all the eligibility criteria of each scholarship you want to apply for. Don’t apply for a scholarship if you only “sort of” meet its requirements or meet “almost all” the criteria. You won’t be considered and you’ll only annoy the scholarship committee who may evaluate your future application at a later date, when you are eligible to apply.
2. Confirm the application deadline for each available scholarship and note the days you should have those applications in the mail. Applications that are even a day late will not be considered, so leave yourself several days ahead of each deadline for mail delays or other last-minute complications. If you have to fill out an online application in addition to mailing in supporting documents, schedule in some time to get online to do that.
3. Organize your available scholarships by deadline and make a list of all the information each application requires. Most scholarships will ask for:
- Application form (look for a downloadable PDF, or an online application, on the scholarship website)
- Your FAFSA or
- Documentation confirming your income and personal assets
- Your Grade Point Average (GPA) and transcripts
- Proof of enrollment or acceptance for admission from your school
- Your education goal
Depending on the type of scholarship you’re applying for, you may also be asked for:
- Nomination from the scholarship representative at your school
- Personal or professional references (include an up-to-date phone number, email address, and mailing address for each reference). Check with your references first, before supplying their names.
- Community or education achievements
- Commitment to a service obligation
4. Get in touch with your reference writers. Give them plenty of time to write your reference letter — you will likely get a more positive reference that way.
5. Recycle your essays. If you find you’re writing more or less the same essay for each available scholarship, reuse one you’ve already written and customize it to address the specific differences of each additional scholarship.
6. Proofread your applications and essays carefully for misspellings and errors in grammar and word usage. (Watch out for easy mistakes with your and you’re; its and it’s; were and we’re; and their, there, and they’re.) If you’ve recycled an essay, make sure you’ve replaced the name of the original scholarship or sponsor everywhere it can be found.
7. Review all the pieces of your application packet. Make sure it has everything the instructions required and nothing they didn’t ask for.
8. Make copies of everything in your application packet before you mail it. (What if the original got lost in the mail?!)
9. Submit your application packets earlier than “just in time.” Just in case.
10. Follow up with each scholarship sponsor to verify that each received your application packet. Did your online application forms provide you with a confirmation email?
Many students apply for every available scholarship. Make your application stand out with efficiency, organization, neatness, and clarity.