There’s a lot of great advice on writing cover letters to pursue different careers or get into the university of your dreams. Unfortunately, scholarship cover letters tend to be overlooked in all of this. That’s a shame, because a motivational scholarship cover letter can really make a difference as you apply for competitive scholarship funds.
If you’re applying for tuition aid in hopes of receiving some much needed funding, keep reading. We’ve lined up several actional writing tips, and a scholarship cover letter sample that you can use as a writing aid.
What Should I Write in a Scholarship Letter?
A cover letter for scholarship application is the first point of introduction between you and the admission committee (or specific professor). Its main goal is to provide extra context around your application — highlight your strengths, past academic and professional achievements, motivation, and goals.
Here are several good points to bring up in a scholarship cover letter:
- Your motivation and passion for a specific program/subject
- What differentiates you from other applicants
- Why you are a good “fit” for this particular scholarship
- What are your strengths and unique experiences?
Remember: a cover letter isn’t the same as a scholarship application essay. Unless you are given a specific writing prompt, don’t try to turn this into a personal narrative. Instead, maintain a more formal tone and structure of a standard business letter. And save the storytelling bits for the other parts of your application.
How Long Should a Scholarship Cover Letter Be?
A standard cover letter for a scholarship should be one page long. That’s 250-400 words in Times New Roman 12 font. It may be tempting to go longer. But remember that most admission officers have limited time and won’t dwell on your letter for an eternity. So keep some other curious bits about yourself for other documents — a personal essay, requested application forms, etc.
How to Write a Cover Letter for a Scholarship
Writing a cover letter for a scholarship is easy when you understand the required structure and format. First, check if the application form provides any specific guidelines or writing prompts.
If there are no special requests, go with a “classic” structure of a cover letter:
- Introduction paragraph: State your name, the reasons for the letter, and the specifics of the scholarship application.
- Body: Sum up your main “talking points” into 2-3 well-structured paragraphs. Keep it at one main idea per paragraph.
- Concluding paragraph: Thank the reader for their time and consideration and suggest follow-up action (e.g. to contact you if they have any other questions).
Now let’s zoom in on every step.
How Do You Start a Scholarship Letter?
If you were asked to mail a cover letter, the very first thing you should write is the recipients’ address and full name. Research and double-check both in advance! If you are applying online, start with a formal greeting, and a quick summarizing paragraph, introducing yourself and your objective for writing.
Here are several sample opening paragraphs for scholarship cover letters:
My name is Joanne Ninja and I would like to be considered for Fuller’s Fund Financial Aid Program for first-generation college attendants. Presently, I’m a high school student at Willow Creek Highs, Head of the Robotics Group, and First-Prize Winner of Regional Robotics Comp in Ohio. Enclosed are copies of my academic accomplishments.
When I was 5, my Grandmother gifted me an old and rusty clarinet. At first, I hated the gift. Because I hoped to receive a radio-controlled helicopter like my neighbor had. But then Grandma showed me how to play the instrument. I was dazzled. The tune she taught me to play helped me make it through the most challenging times when I was growing up in an incomplete family and struggling with anxiety. Her passion for music prompted me to apply to the NYC Arts academy.
Format Your Letter So it is Easy to Read
Once you’ve crafted several openings, work on the body of your letter. There could be hundreds of applicants for a single scholarship. A single person will most likely have to read all of them and then determine whether or not an applicant should be given further consideration. If your application letter looks like a wall of text, it won’t make it any further.
Thus, format your letter for readability. Start by choosing a font that is friendly to the eyes. Use plenty of white space. Break your letter down into small paragraphs. Finally, keep things brief. Your letter should be compelling, not lengthy.
Sample Scholarship Cover Letter Format
[Name of the Institution]
[Name of the Organization or Contact Person],
Opening statement: Keep this one 1-2 long sentences max. Summarize your agenda for writing and provide an umbrella statement for the rest of the letter.
First Paragraph: Write around 100-150 words around your first talking point — educational background, achievements, personal reasons for applying.
Second Paragraph: Transition to the second discussion point. Add another 100 words about why you should be considered.
Third Paragraph: See second.
Closing paragraph: Provide a logical conclusion to the discussion. Thank the reader for their time and suggest the next steps.
Relate Your Chosen Course of Study to The Scholarship
Many scholarships are offered by groups or other organizations with a cause or goal in mind e.g. increase the number of women in STEM or aid people of certain backgrounds. One of the best things you can do in your scholarship cover letter is to share how your chosen studies align with those goals.
For example, if you are studying nursing, and are applying for a scholarship at a community organization, you can discuss how you might return to your community as a volunteer to provide healthcare to underserved people.
Executive Career Coach
Include All of The Required Information
Read through all of the information that you have about the scholarship and the application process. The organizers may ask you to include specific information. You may even need to provide a response to a certain prompt in your motivational letter. Double check before submitting to ensure that you are including every bit of required information.
Document checklist for scholarship applications:
- Completed scholarship application forms
- Personal ID
- Social security number
- Proof of income (bank statements, tax returns)
- High school transcripts
- Transcripts for previous college work
- Letters of reference or contact person(s)
- Letter of recommendation
- Scholarship application essay or personal essay
- Resume and cover letter
Check Spelling and Grammar Carefully
Any time you are applying for any sort of academic aid, you should pay very close attention to detail. Even small errors in spelling and grammar will really stand out. This can result in your being removed from consideration. To avoid this, take a multi-staged approach. Here is an example.
- Start by turning on the spelling and grammar checker that comes with your word processor.
- When you finish writing, use another, premium tool. Try Grammarly or WhiteSmoke.
- Next, read your finished letter out loud. Fix any mistakes.
- Finally, have a trusted friend, family member, or teacher review your letter.
Use Powerful Examples
Remember that the purpose of your scholarship letter is to motivate your reader. You want to show them that you are the person who is the best fit for their scholarship. A scholarship fund might be intended for a student who is a good leader, interested in a specific academic field, exemplifies service to others, or who adheres to a specific belief system. The requirements for scholarships vary widely.
How do you prove you are a good fit? The best way is to show it by using one or two great examples. Imagine that you are applying for a scholarship given by an animal rights organization. You might share the story of how you spent two summers interning at a wildlife rehabilitation center. This provides concrete evidence of your loyalty to that cause.
Here’s another compelling scholarship cover letter example:
“The mission of Dentelles Fund is to attract more women to STEM. That is a cause that I share too. During my undergraduate studies, I volunteered with several local schools in Denver Districts, alongside my professor. Ms. Johns. Together, we hosted after-hour workshops for girls, interested in entering STEM. I also provided individual tutoring and mentoring to a group of high-school girls who are preparing to enter the field. At that time, I recognized that teaching would be my ultimate career goal. That is why I’d like to pursue an MA degree at Colorado Tech State”.
Stuck for ideas? Check out other cover letter examples our team has created for more experienced professionals. You can pick up a few more styling tips on how to effortlessly weave in some personal stories into a cover letter.
Sample Cover Letter for Scholarship in .docx Format
To demonstrate some of the points made above, here is a sample scholarship letter. Feel free to use it as a guide.
Scholarship Cover Letter Example – Text Format
Dear Ms. Billings,
My name is Jonathon Ninja. I’m a senior at Metro Academy of Fine Arts. I’m writing this letter as part of my application for the Greater Washington Area Music Scholars award. I plan on attending Berklee School of Music in the fall, and will study Jazz Saxophone and Music Theory.
I know that the Music Scholars award is designed to go to a student who plans to pursue a career in music performance. Not only do I plan to do that, I am actively working as a paid performer even as a student. I am currently the tenor saxophonist for the Metro Community Jazz band. In addition to this, I am part of a jazz ensemble, Ninja Music Group that regularly plays weddings, parties, and other gatherings. I was also fortunate enough to backpack through Europe earning money busking and singing with local bands.
The rest of my application packet requires all of the information you requested. Please note that my GPA matches your organization’s requirements. I have also included my letter of acceptance from Berklee.
Final Tip: How Do You Write 5 Sentences About Yourself?
A lot of scholarship application forms ask you to share five personal statements about yourself. So what should you bring up? Don’t repeat the same highlights from your resume and cover letter. Instead, use a mix of personal, educational, and professional achievements when answering this question. Here’s a quick formula:
- Write a sentence about your background and what shaped you as a person.
- State what makes you passionate about the chosen field of work and research.
- Mention an interest or activity that provides a glimpse of your personality.
- Explain your aspirations and plans for the future.
- Finish with your most significant personal or professional achievement.
Follow the tips above, and you are likely to impress any scholarship committee and encourage them to give you a further chance of making your case in person!