The Scholarship Process for
Keep track of potential scholarship donors. Create
a word processing document or spreadsheet on your computer,
or buy a spiral notebook that you will use only for
listing organizations that offer scholarships, and the
pertinent information regarding their scholarships.
When you come
across an organization that matches your eligibility
criteria, note each of the following criteria in your
Name of the organization
- Contact persons name, telephone number, and
email for questions
- Important dates such as the date due (the date
it must be postmarked by)
- Method of submission: postal mail or electronic
- Eligibility requirements make sure you get
them all, as there may be quite a few
- Any other information that will help you in sending
off your application package.
I also made a practice of checking the bulletin board
at my universitys financial aid office every two
weeks. You dont have to be a student to do this.
There may several months without a listing that you
are eligible for. One year I only found two that I was
eligible for, however, I was awarded both scholarships.
Applying for scholarships is playing an odds game.
Odds are that the more applications you submit, the
better your chances of being awarded several scholarships.
Apply for every type of scholarship that you are even
minimally eligible for.
- Request a Scholarship Application: Create a form
letter to request scholarship applications from each
organization on the list you created. This letter can
be copied into the body of an email or sent via postal
mail. This is a short letter, conveying a little information
about yourself and then requesting the application.
In the first paragraph of my letter, I gave my name,
my major, and the university I was attending. I also
gave my age, and included the fact that I was a single
parent of four children. The second paragraph consisted
of a couple of lines requesting that the organization
send me an application form so I could apply for their
scholarship. If you are required to send this letter
by postal mail, include a SASE (self-addressed, self-stamped)
When you receive the scholarship application, look
at the due date and allow yourself enough time to complete
the application process. In addition to the application
form, a personal essay, reference letters, and official
transcripts are usually required.
- Personal Essay: The scholarship
essay is usually of a personal nature. It may be
about your career goals or a type of biography. Some
will ask specific questions about your life, others
will ask a general question regarding an ideal served
by their organization. For example, an application I
filled out for MANA (Mexican
American National Association) requested an essay
on the Hispanic woman and education. When writing your
essays, make them short, informative, and upbeat. Avoid
the poor me tone.
Although my situation was dire, I avoided this tone
with simple statements such as, I am a single
parent of four children. I did not elaborate on
this statement; I let it speak for itself. If the scholarship
is based on financial need, state your struggles in
a factual manner. The readers of your essays will appreciate
brief, factual statements that allow them to bring their
own emotions to your story.