Tips for Applying for Scholarships

"Tips for Applying for Scholarships" submitted by SchoolGrantsfor Editorial Team and last updated on Monday 25th July 2011

Table of Contents

Pay Attention to Deadlines

Send your application to the agency as EARLY as possible, absolutely not after the deadline date! I like to send applications with a "return receipt requested" or "registered" so that I can prove the date they were delivered. This also conveys a positive characteristic about the sender.

Start Your Application With a "Thank You" Cover Letter

Sample Packet Cover Letter

1111 WinOne Street
Pensacola, Fl 32503
August 9, 2003

Mary Smith, President
Whatever Scholarship Committee
10456 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Dear Ms. Smith,
This letter is an introduction of myself, (your name), and my desire to participate in the (whatever it is called) Scholarship Program. I have been accepted to (Name of your College) for the 2003 fall term.
I would like to thank you and the (whatever) Scholarship Committee for supporting college-bound students with an opportunity for financial assistance through your scholarship program. Enclosed you will find my application form, high school transcript, ACT results, letters of recommendation, and other pertinent information. Again, thank you for establishing this scholarship and taking the time to read my application and supporting materials.


(your name)

Answer the "Mail"

While this seems obvious, some students fail to respond to requests for additional information or confirmation of the award and lose the scholarship. Open your mail and respond on a timely basis.

Organize Your Application

It helps if you organize your application and supporting materials to make it EASY for the reviewing committee members to see that you have provided the required documents. I like to provide these items in the order that they are listed in the application. DON'T mix the requested items on the same page. In the tip that follows I recommend that you add extra items that were not requested to give your application that something extra. However, DO NOT add extra items if you are specifically told not to add anything extra. Adding items when your are forbidden to do so could be perceived as an inability to follow directions.

Add Extra Items to Your Application (if not forbidden)

This is where you can find creative ways to present yourself in a positive light to the selection committee. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Write a short essay on MY EDUCATION/CAREER GOALS. Keep it to one page.
  2. Write a paragraph or two on how this scholarship award will help you achieve your education/career goals.
  3. My guidance counselor gave me a paper that congratulated me on being in the top 10% of my class, and acknowledged my hard work to get there. I included this because it put me in a positive light, and the hard work I put into academics was recognized.
  4. Before I reached my 18th birthday, I registered for the Military Draft as required for all males when they reach the age of 18. I received a letter from the draft board congratulating me for doing my civic duty prior to my 18th birthday. You guessed it, this was also one of my "extra items". A lot of scholarship committee members have military backgrounds or see this as good citizenship.
  5. One of the best extra items is a letter of acceptance for admission to "any" college. If the scholarship application is not for a specific college, you will be able to use the award at "any" college. You do not have to use it at the college you used in your application. Later you can get more college acceptance letters and when you make your selection you can notify the scholarship award committee of where to send the award. Therefore, any letter of acceptance shows that your are serious, but it does not "lock" you into using the award at that college.

These are just a few examples to get you thinking. I would limit my extras to three or four at the most--too many can "sour" your application. Again, MAKE SURE you are not forbidden to add extra items before you do so. Tell your story so the committee gets to know you!

Personalize Letters of Recommendation

Proofread all Materials, and Neatness is a Must

Use the spell checker when you write anything. Using correct grammar, spelling and punctuation may be a part of the criteria for awarding the scholarship. If you have a problem in this area ask your English teacher to help you with proofreading your essay, cover letter, extra items you have included, and even letters of recommendation prepared by others. When there are hundreds or thousands of applications to review, correctness and neatness become the first screen-out factor. Only when the "pile" is smaller does the content of your application start to become a factor in the selection process.


Submit your completed application in a clear plastic folder with a slide locking binder. I like the cheap clear ones that reveal just the "Thank You Cover Letter" (see second tip). For that final "touch" I also like to include a wallet size picture. The next item(s) in your application packet are those required in the application (Tip #4 Organize Your Application). Next, I add any extra items (if not forbidden). Finally, I place any letter(s) of recommendations.

Your application packet is your chance to present yourself in the best light. Don't mess it up by folding it to fit in a small envelope. Use an 8" x 10" envelope so your application arrives looking great.