How to write an application letter for a scholarship

Updated April 17, 2017

Writing a letter that influences your educational future can be challenging. Writing application letters for scholarships can be done well when you remember that you're writing to a person (or a group of people), not an institution, and you're more than just a list.

Do your research. What is the scholarship for and who funds it? Locate information about the scholarship, including guidelines of what matters most in determining which applicants win the scholarship. Get specific information about what the scholarship provider is looking for in an applicant, as well as who reads the application letters. Is it a board, a group of people, a group of educators or a single person? It's good to know exactly who you're writing to.

Focus on one or two main points. It's easy to fill a page trying to say all the good things you can think of about yourself, such as grades and clubs, extra-curricular activities and awards. All of that information is part of your academic file, but simply relisting it in a letter doesn't help convince the application board that you deserve the scholarship. Choose one or two points about your experience, education, background, personality or interests to concentrate on.

Make an outline of your letter. This will help maintain your focus as you write, rather than getting lost on the blank page in front of you. You'll need to open with a greeting, transition to your main point, then to your next point and then provide a conclusion.

Use specific examples to support what you say about yourself. Don't just say, "I am a people person," and expect the reader to believe you. Provide at least one specific example from your life that shows how much of a people person you are. This is your evidence, and it gives your entire letter credibility. Make sure you support each of your main points with sufficient examples. Sometimes one is enough, but you may need more.

Be personable. Remember that real people read your letter. Don't write to an institution, board, university or foundation; write to a person, or to people. Be respectful and courteous but use normal language, not some pedantic, flowery, overly formal wording that you would never use when speaking.

Write and edit. Once you've written your letter, go back and do an initial edit. Read it through at a normal pace and mark the spots that sound awkward, don't make sense or don't fit.

Set it aside. Take some time away, even if it is just an hour or two. Focus on something entirely different.

Read and edit your letter again after your break. Reading it through again may help you see some places that need to be polished. Spend some time editing, improving the language and flow, and correcting your spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Make a clean copy and read it slowly and carefully before sending. Have someone else read through it in case you overlooked any errors. Once you're sure there are no mistakes in your letter, send it to the proper location.


Have someone else read your letter and offer constructive criticism.


Don't go with the first draft. You can always improve the letter with a rewrite.

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About the Author

Annie Mueller is a professional writer and blogger. Since 2003 she has written extensively on small business, finances, parenting, education and personal growth, and has been published on Financial Edge and many other websites. Mueller attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, in English from Mississippi State University.