While cover letters are mostly used for job applications, they’re also commonly requested as part of scholarship applications.
Scholarship committees and organizations want to see that you’re dedicated to your studies and are serious about getting the most out of a college education. A great scholarship cover letter is the perfect opportunity to highlight your passion and show them that you’re deserving of their financial support.
Use our tips and examples below to write a great scholarship letter and set yourself apart from other applicants:
Why write a scholarship cover letter?
Scholarship committees get plenty of applicants with great grades, numerous extracurriculars, and high SAT scores. Applicants that don’t stand out will have a hard time getting noticed.
Writing a scholarship cover letter gives you an opportunity to highlight your dedication, goals, and passion to the committee or organization granting the scholarship, greatly improving your chance of convincing them that you’re the best candidate to receive their assistance.
Use your cover letter to explain some of your motivations, challenges in life, or accomplishments.
Tips for writing a scholarship application cover letter
Not sure where to start? No problem. Here are some tips for writing a compelling cover letter for a scholarship:
While scholarship committees want insight into your life and motivations, that doesn’t mean they want your whole life story. Your scholarship application cover letter should be focused, to the point, and cover all the information that needs to be included on a cover letter.
For example, here’s the primary information that you need to include in your scholarship cover letter. If you’re ultimately not providing scholarship committees with this information, your cover letter is probably not focused enough:
- Give the scholarship committee an overview of who you are.
- Demonstrate your qualifications and why you deserve the scholarship.
- Convey your interest and enthusiasm for the scholarship.
- State how you intend to use the scholarship.
- Structure your scholarship cover letter.
Structure your scholarship cover letter
It can be difficult to know how to sell yourself to a committee you’ve never met. If you’re having trouble knowing where to start or how to write your cover letter, it can be helpful to make an outline for yourself first.
Knowing how to format your cover letter is the first step. A cover letter’s basic structure can be broken down into five main components:
- Personal information
- Salutation and opening paragraph
- Body paragraph(s)
- Closing paragraph (call to action)
Once you’ve got the personal information and salutation locked in, turn your attention to the most important part: writing tailored paragraphs. Like every piece of writing, your scholarship letter should have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
The template below outlines the purpose for each paragraph, and what it should include:
[Your phone number] [Your email address] [Your mailing address]
[Scholarship organization name]
[Organization phone number]
Dear [Mr./Ms./Mx. Recipient’s name] / [Scholarship Committee],
Start with an opening paragraph that briefly introduces who you are, and your relevant experience, how you learned about the scholarship, and why you are interested in applying. If writing multiple cover letters, take care to customize this paragraph to target a specific scholarship.
Next come your body paragraphs, which highlight your academic accomplishments as well as any related skills and experience. Depending on the scholarship application requirements, you may need just one body paragraph or several (always check the length requirement first). The question you are really addressing in this section is what makes you deserving of this particular scholarship, so make sure that everything you include bolsters your case.
- If you have a particularly impressive accomplishment (or two) you’d like to include, you can draw the scholarship committee’s attention to it by formatting it as a bullet point
End with a closing paragraph that restates your interest in the scholarship and why you should be a recipient. Include a call to action to inspire the committee to reach out to you – by saying you’d love the opportunity to schedule a call or a meeting, for instance.
[Sincerely / Best / Best regards],
Customize your scholarship cover letters
When writing cover letters, it’s the little touches that make all the difference.
Once you’ve read a stack of cover letters (like the scholarship committee has), it becomes pretty easy to judge which ones are generic cover letters and which ones have been tailored to an individual scholarship.
The easiest way to customize your cover letters is to use the introductory paragraph to include information specific to that particular scholarship.
The basis for granting scholarships varies widely. Some organizations look at academic performance, while others look at financial need or other special circumstances.
Before writing your cover letter (or application), carefully consider what the scholarship committee is looking for and make addressing this the focal point of your letter.
Scholarship cover letter example
Here’s an example of a strong scholarships letter sample that you can use to inspire your own scholarship cover letter: