Additional Tips on How to Apply for Scholarships

Suggestions For Applying

When you apply for a scholarship, a committee will rate your application. Some scholarships are national, such as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Gates Millennium Fund, or something sponsored by a national corporation. Hundreds or thousands of students might apply to these, and you should, too. You may have more opportunity to earn a scholarship at the local, state or regional level, such as CNM general scholarship, New Mexico Alliance or Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Here are some other important things to pay attention to when applying!


Read each scholarship carefully to be sure you meet the qualifications. Many scholarships require you to have a minimum GPA (grade point average). Other requirements that scholarships may ask for include:

  • A certain number of college level credits
  • A specific major or area of study
  • Anticipated graduation date
  • Age (traditional or non-traditional students)
  • Ethnicity
  • Where you live
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Work experience
  • Leadership experience
  • Volunteer work
  • Participation in student organizations or clubs
  • Participation in a religions organization
  • Participation in a particular program (such as TRIO programs)

Letters of Experience

Scholarships usually require 1-3 letters of reference. Some scholarships ask you to submit letters of reference from very specific sources, such as an employer, an advisor, or a faculty member.

Be sure you have the “right” people to ask for letters of reference. This means that the person should know you well enough to write you a positive letter and should be comfortable writing such letters. It can be helpful to furnish these people with a copy of your personal statement and/or your resume. You can also supply them with a list of things you would like them to talk about that are relevant to what the scholarship committee is looking for.

It is VERY IMPORTANT that you ask people for letters of reference WELL IN ADVANCE of the DEADLINE. You need to give them enough time in their busy schedules to complete the task.  All letters of reference should be typed in the business style format, preferably on business or school letterhead.

CAREFUL! Some scholarship applications require you to submit “SEALED” letters of reference. This means that the person who writes it for you must put it in an envelope and sign their name across the back seal. The envelope should include the name of the scholarship committee and your name.

For example:

TO: Hispanic Scholarship Fund Committee

RE: Betsy M. Lopez

The person who writes you a sealed letter is NOT REQUIRED to provide you with a copy. However, most people are happy to share their letter with you and you might want to ask them for a copy for your files.

Personal Statement

This is usually the most crucial part of your application, and the part that the scholarship committee spends the most time evaluating. Sometimes it is called a “letter of intent” or a “personal essay”.

The simplest way to write your personal statement is to first tell about your educational goals and future plans. Then discuss what you have done so far to reach those goals, including how you dealt with any obstacles or challenges. Next, discuss what you have remaining to do to reach your goals and what challenges you still have. This is usually a good place to address the financial reasons you may have for applying for the scholarship.

It is important to give the reader enough detail so that they understand your situation. However, while they can appreciate the obstacles you have to deal with, they may not want to read a long, emotional life history. DO tell them about your life changing experiences: be positive and demonstrate to the committee that you are worthy of their consideration.

DO put your essay in business letter form. For the salutation, you can say “Dear Members of the

Scholarship Committee” or “To Whom It May Concern”.

DO thank the committee for considering your application.

DO treat your essay like an important paper for one of your classes. Have a few different people read it over and be sure it is well edited!


Some applications may require you to submit a resume. If so, be sure you submit it in whatever format they specify.

Some applications may require you to answer additional questions in a specific space provided; some will allow you to attach a page. ALWAYS plan out your answers (through writing) before you type them on to the form!

MAKE A COPY! Keep a copy of everything you are submitting for your own records. You’ll have it to refer to when you apply for other scholarships.

BE SURE TO MEET DEADLINES FOR MAILING YOUR APPLICATION! Some may have a “due by” date, and others may have a “posted by” date.