So you’ve finally decided to apply for a scholarship. Good for you! You’ve done your research and scoured the web for relevant information, specifically on scholarships for Filipinos. You’ve been gathering momentum when suddenly, you find yourself stuck. Waiting next on your checklist is one of the most important requirements–the scholarship application letter.
What is it?
The scholarship application letter is like a cover letter that you send along with your CV and other requirements like your transcript of records, recommendation letters, essay, and depending on the provider, proof of financial need.
While all of these documents are equally important, the scholarship application letter really plays a huge role. If written well, you could get one foot in the door, so to speak.
Why is it a big deal?
Well, this is the first item that the scholarship screening committee sees. They use it to narrow down their choice from hundreds of applications. Students aiming to get scholarships are up against a lot of competition. You don’t want to waste all the hard work and time you’ve invested in completing all the requirements just because of an application letter that did not quite interest the evaluator. A lot of applications do not even get past this stage in the selection. Make yours catch the reader’s eye!
Here are some helpful tips in writing a scholarship application letter that stands out.
Give yourself enough time
Crafting your scholarship application letter is no easy feat. Do not rush it. Give yourself ample time to write, rewrite, review and rewrite it again. Make an outline of what you want to say, ask someone you trust to review it, do your research.
Your scholarship application letter should be well-written, clear, and concise, with no grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors. Use a professional tone to show that you are serious about getting a quality higher education and you are willing to work hard for it. But also allow your personality to shine through! You won’t want it to sound like a templated letter.
Scholarship providers do not usually give a specific format for the scholarship application letter (not like essays that are expected to follow a given format when required). A well-formatted letter gives a good impression that the candidate has made a serious effort in communicating with the provider. You may use the tried and tested business letter format:
- 1-inch margin
- Full block style (left-aligned)
- Single spacing
- Double spaced between paragraphs
- Times New Roman font (or other acceptable business communication fonts like Arial)
- Font size 12
Guidelines and examples of writing the basic business letters can be found here if you need to review them.
Parts of your letter
Like a business letter, yours should have:
- the sender’s name and address, contact information (email address, phone number)
- the date
- the receiver’s name, position, and address
- the salutation
- the body
- complimentary close
- signature (or e-signature)
- identification (your full name)
- You may also indicate a list enclosure that come with the letter like your CV, transcript essay and other requirements
Hot tip #1
Be sure to give your updated contact information.
If you’ve been using an email handle that is not very professional sounding, it’s a good idea to create a new one and start using that for your formal correspondence. “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” may have sounded cool in your teenage years, but they will not help your scholarship application bid and future formal communications.
Hot tip #2
What about the salutation?
Avoid using “To whom it may concern.” Find out the name and designation of the person heading the scholarship program. You may then use “Dear Mr. ___.” It is simple, and it works.
Hot tip #3
Separate the body of your letter into paragraphs so that it will be easier on the eyes of the reader. Do not beat around the bush with flowery words; be direct. Write about your passion, and connect this with how your studies will take you closer to your goal and benefit others. Prove that you are a good match for this scholarship, but be sincere and mean what you write.
Your scholarship application letter usually has 3 main parts: the introduction, the body paragraphs (usually about 3 paragraphs), and the conclusion.
The introduction should be straightforward, stating your name and the degree program for which you’re applying for the scholarship. You may mention here a big achievement of yours or a goal that relates to the degree program you are pursuing. You may mention your need for the provider’s scholarship to achieve these goals.
After the introduction, you may highlight your other achievements in school (stated chronologically) if applying for undergraduate degree scholarships. You may also include internships and job experience if you have any, as well as extra-curricular activities in school and in the community. Maybe you volunteer regularly for an advocacy group. Maybe you were chairperson for a club or a major activity in school. Things like these tell the evaluators that aside from being strong academically, you are also well-rounded, with leadership skills, passion, and the drive to perform a task from start to finish. Make them want to look at your CV and other materials.
You may mention your need for a scholarship due to your personal circumstance or your family’s financial state. When citing this, balance it by saying something positive – like “limited resources have not dampened my drive to achieve my goals of helping the community through…” – something like that. You get the picture. Do not be overly sentimental. Evaluators are trained to see through the drama.
Tell your story. Keep it short, but quick anecdotes make good personal journey stories. Talk about your present and as well as what you want to be doing in the future after finishing your degree program and perhaps relate this with the mission of the scholarship provider. If you have specific plans, share them too. Maybe you plan on getting further education after the undergraduate degree, or you can mention the organizations that you would like to work with or share world or social issues that you would like to take on in the future. Tell them what you plan to do with your education.
Let the evaluators know why you are the best match for the scholarship based on your performance inside and outside school, based on your work ethic and dedication, and based on your dreams for the future and concern for the world around you.
In conclusion, it should re-emphasize why you are the best candidate for the scholarship. Be confident but not arrogant.
Then you’re almost done!
For the complimentary close, the following are acceptable:
- Thank you,
- Best regards,
- Kind regards,
- With best regards,
Place your signature below the complimentary close and type your full name under it.
Hot tip #4
Limit your letter to 1 to 2 pages only.
Take time to review your work, step away from it, edit, proofread, and repeat. Some even find it helpful to print a hard copy to review it. Before sending your application out, ask a number of people to proofread your work–friends, teachers, family. When ready, export your file in PDF format if you’re sending it electronically.
And that’s it! Now get to work. Good luck, future scholar!