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Applying for Scholarships: Some Things You Will (usually) Need to Submit

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Applying for a scholarship is not a hard task, but there are some important items that you should have ready to submit when you apply. Here are the top five most requested application materials:

  1. The application - These forms will probably require you to submit detailed information about yourself, such as your contact information, year in school, personal background, college plans, intended major, etc. Make sure you follow the scholarship providers' rules about filling out the application forms. Sometimes you will have to make several copies of each application form or apply online, type out your responses in 12-point font, etc.

  2. A transcript of grades - Even if the scholarship you are applying for does not require you to have a certain grade point average or SAT score, many scholarships providers still like to see your most recent transcripts. This will give them the opportunity to see how well you are doing in school, your attendance record, class schedule, courses completed, etc.

  3. Letters of recommendation - Most scholarship providers require their applicants to submit a few letters of recommendation. Why? Because they want some outside perspectives about the students who are applying for their scholarships. When you find out you need a letter of recommendation, you may be tempted to run to a family member (How could your grandma ever say anything bad about you??) or a friend, but your first choice should probably be a teacher, employer or some other professional associate, as this person will be able to write a more objective (and therefore more credible) letter.

  4. An essay (or two) - I know, I know...we hear from students all the time who tell us how much they dislike writing essays, but the essay section of the application is very important. It gives you the opportunity to voice your opinions, point out your strengths, and distinguish yourself from the other applicants. Look on the bright side: You may spend a lot of time writing those essays now, but you will build up a reservoir of essays that you might be able to use for future scholarships, college applications, classes, etc.
  5. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) - Most need-based awards require students to submit the FAFSA as a part of the scholarship application process. You need to fill out the FAFSA after Jan. 1, and submit it before your state's deadline. The FAFSA is available from high school guidance offices, college financial aid offices, via the web at or by calling 1-800-433-3243.

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