Tips for When Applying for Scholarships
Maximize Scholarship Opportunities
Here are a few tips to maximize your scholarship opportunities:
- Apply early. The peak time to apply for scholarships is January through May for the upcoming school year. Remember the early bird gets the worm!
- Check for scholarships frequently. Check your department, college, and the UCF Scholarship Listing Page for updates to scholarships.
- Get Involved. While some scholarships do not require involvement, it does help showcase who you are as a person. Also, being involved helps identify your involvement within your community i.e. campus, local, church, sports.
- Complete Your FAFSA. Some scholarships do not require the FAFSA, however, it is recommended for consideration of scholarships that require completing the FAFSA.
Write an Award-Winning Scholarship Essay
Students many times do not apply for scholarships that involve writing essays. However, scholarships that require essays do not usually have many applicants which may increase your chances of earning a scholarship.
Here are a few tips to write your award-winning essay:
- Tailor your essay for your intended audience. While writing your essay, it is important to stay focused on the topic and specifically address the essay question.
- Target your audience by using keywords. Identify the goals of the donor as well as identifying why you should be selected for the scholarship.
- Stand out. Make the committee interested in who you are by grabbing their attention. Give the committee something different, so brainstorming will be very important before you begin writing your essay. Grab the reader’s attention with your essay and make the reader want to learn more about you.
- Introduce yourself. Explain who you are, what your goals are, and how receiving the scholarship will help you accomplish your educational objectives. Scholarship committees often make decisions on awarding scholarships and want to know more about you, so using the essay is a good way to introduce yourself to the committee. Examples also include campus and community involvement, and hobbies.
- Avoid negative messages. When writing your essay, avoid negative messages such as tear-jerker. Many use this method in hopes of being selected for a scholarship. However, it may have the opposite impact and not accomplish the intended message.
- Write positive messages. In keeping with the theme of tailoring and targeting your audience, it is important to do so with positive messages. Positive messages are important when discussing negative situations. It gives great insight to you as a person, i.e., how you have overcome difficult situations.
- Proofread. Essays should be proofread several times over to ensure that there are no typing or grammatical errors. Utilize your resources such as the UCF Writing Center or having a financial aid advisor review your essay.
Manage Your Scholarship Award
Most students entering college encounter their first real-world situations with large amounts of money. We’ve compiled information on budgeting your money, as well as other financial literacy tips.
Avoid Scholarship Scams
- Do not pay for scholarship searches. You have many options for free scholarship search engines as well as campus resources.
- Avoid Scholarship Guarantees. Be wary of scholarship organizations that guarantee you will receive a scholarship based upon a small application fee. No one can guarantee you will receive a scholarship by paying an application fee.
- Avoid Giving Personal Information. Do not provide personal information such as bank account numbers, and credit card numbers.
- Money-Back Guarantee. Avoid scholarships that promise your money is guaranteed to be refunded if you do not receive a scholarship.
If you believe you have encountered a fraudulent scholarship, visit the Federal Trade Commission website for help.
Write a Thank You Letter
Letters of appreciation from scholars encourage our donors to continue funding deserving students like you. We ask that you prepare a brief letter describing how their contribution will help you reach your educational and personal goals.
Here are some other suggestions for your thank you letter:
- Make sure your letter is legible. If your handwriting is hard to read, you should type the letter instead.
- Be sure to address the donor of the scholarship and not the scholarship committee.
- Letters should be proofread and you should have someone else proofread it as well.
- A store-bought card can be nice but be sure to write your own thoughts.
- You should let the donor(s) know something about yourself and the impact their generosity has had on your education and life. You should also indicate what your future goals may be.
Feel free to come into the Office of Student Financial Assistance if you have trouble writing your thank you letter and a staff member will assist you. You can also visit the Writing Center for assistance.
External Scholarship Listings
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- College Scholarships for Minority Students
- Extensive list of scholarships and financial aid resources available specifically for minority students. The guide also includes tips for finding and securing scholarships and other financial aid.
- College Whale
- At CollegeWhale.com students will find college financial aid video tutorials, student loan and FAFSA help guides, CollegeWhale.com’s famous “Easiest Scholarship Search Ever” (a “no registration required” college scholarship search with hundreds of thousands of dollars in available scholarship awards), and answers to most college financial aid questions.
- Dow Jones NewsPaper Fund, Inc.
- You will find links to journalism-related scholarships, fellowships, internships and other career resources such as job fairs and job postings.
- The FastWeb Scholarship Search Engine is updated daily, available free of charge, is completely private, and includes a database of over 1.3 million scholarships worth over $3 billion.
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- Searchable scholarship database with nearly 20,000 scholarships.
- Available to both High School and College students of Latino descent. This up-to-date directory requires no registration and is accessible to all.
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- Scholarship Guidance
- The #1 High School and University Resource for Students.
- 100 Military Education Grants and Scholarships
- Looking for military education grants and scholarships for yourself, your spouse, or your children to go back to school? Here is a massive list (over 100) scholarships and grants for military personnel and their families to go to school.
International Scholarship Resources
Searchable scholarship database with nearly 20,000 scholarships
Free online financial aid source for scholarships, grants, and loans for all college-bound students,
including permanent residents and international students wishing to study in the United States.
Free online scholarship search service.
Thousands of searchable scholarships
International Education Financial Aid
Free online scholarship search service designed for international students.
Free online scholarship database for international students wishing to study worldwide.
Mobility International USA
Free online scholarship resource for non-U.S. citizens with disabilities.
Opportunities for DACA or TPS Students
TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for DREAMers.
Hispanic Scholarship Fund
HSF empowers families with the knowledge and resources to successfully complete a higher education, while providing scholarships and support services to as many exceptional students as possible.
Golden Door Scholars
As a Golden Door Scholar, each student receives a scholarship empowering her or him to earn a bachelor’s degree and pursue a dream career. Eligible students may be high school seniors, recent high school graduates, or currently enrolled in college pursuing an undergraduate degree.