How Can I Make my Scholarship Application Stand Out?

Sending a scholarship application that stands out is essential to winning free financial aid for pursuing post-secondary education.

Scholarships are awards given to students who fit a particular profile to make paying college tuition more affordable. Seeking scholarships is worth it because they don’t need to be repaid like student loans or require obligations like fellowships.

Most scholarships are quite competitive though. For instance, the Jack Kent Cooke College Scholarship Program has a success rate of just 1.6 percent. Gaining an advantage over hundreds to thousands of other applicants is necessary to land these lucrative awards.

The following are some essential tips for making your application catch the committee’s eye.

Make Certain You Qualify

Only applying for scholarships which you qualify for is simple, yet often overlooked. Scholarship committees typically won’t look at your application further if you’re not eligible. Keep your application out of the trash by selecting scholarships where you fulfill all requirements. Don’t bother applying to a scholarship requiring a 3.5 GPA if you have a 3.2.

Narrow down available scholarships based on your qualifications. The College Board runs an impressive search engine for finding nearly $6 billion in funding. Enter as much information as possible to locate your best scholarship matches.

Follow All Application Instructions

Another fast route to the discard pile is submitting an incomplete application. Organizations awarding scholarships go through a lot of trouble to clearly write out instructions. Do yourself a favor by reading them thoroughly. Whether it’s an official transcript, resume, or FAFSA form, include all required application materials. Fill out the entire scholarship application and leave behind no blanks. Go the extra mile by completing all “optional” sections because this shows ambition. If the application instructions are tough to understand, ask a teacher or school counselor for guidance.

Pen a Shining Scholarship Essay

Scholarship essays offer you the opportunity to let your true personality shine. Take the time to organize your thoughts with a flow chart or outline before writing. Double check that your essay plans explicitly answer every question asked. Elaborate on each point using clear, concise language. Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself by highlighting your best achievements and attributes.

Related: What Should I Include on an Essay for a Scholarship Application?

If the instructions limit the essay to 500 words, edit your writing to within one page. Have a teacher or parent carefully proofread the essay for impeccable spelling and grammar.

Attach Strong Recommendation Letters

Good letters of recommendation are crucial components of scholarship applications. These letters display your strengths from a third-party perspective. They reveal facts about your personal character beyond grades and test scores. It’s usually best to ask teachers, counselors, coaches, advisors, and employers for recommendations. Pick someone who knows you well and who will be enthusiastic about supporting you. Spend time with the person to discuss your future goals and interests. Ask at least one month before the scholarship deadline to avoid rushing your recommenders.

Whether you’re a high school senior or graduate student, filling out applications for scholarship money can be difficult. Even if you don’t have a perfect 4.0, you can still win scholarships by sending stellar applications. Apply for as many scholarships as you qualify for without sacrificing quality. Submitting a scholarship application that follows all instructions in a neat, organized manner can make a huge difference in the judges’ decision.