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Writing that Scholarship Cover Letter – How Do You Shine?

Content writing that scholarship cover letter

Here’s how scholarship applications generally work today. You will probably find an application form on the school’s or organization’s website. There will be specific instructions about deadlines, if an essay is also required, etc.

And if you make it through the first “cut,” you will probably be contacted for an interview – either in person or via a digital medium.

Think Like a Job Applicant

The process for getting a scholarship award is a lot like applying for a job. There are stages at which you need to engage and grab attention and then stages at which you need to provide more detailed information about your background, strengths, etc. And then, of course, that interview, if you make it that far.

Your introduction to the decision-makers is that scholarship cover letter. And, through reading it, they will either get excited about you, or they will see you as every other applicant whose scholarship application letter they have read.

Rising to the Top of the Pile

Having never done this before, it is easy to understand that you may not know how to write a cover letter for a scholarship. Here you will find some key tips that will engage and impress.

  1. Use a Moderately Formal Format

Your letter is a type of business letter, so you do want to have the name and address of the department, school or organization listed first. Placing this at the left margin is fine. You name and address (including contact information and date) should be centered at the top of the page.

The salutation should follow the addressee’s information. Left justify everything, including your sign-off.

  1. Grab Attention with Your First Sentence

Boring first sentences do not set you apart. Come up with a creative short sentence, a startling statistic about the field you are studying, etc. For example, you could say, “Every night in America, 14 million children go to bed hungry. This is just one of many reasons why I have chosen public administration as a major. It is my goal to enter public service at the local, state and perhaps national levels, so that I may impact domestic social policies.”

Consider all that you have included in this opening of your letter for scholarship consideration. You have engaged your readers with a pretty shocking statement; you have identified your field of study, and you have explained why you are passionate about that field – all in your opening 3 sentences. How much better is this than the boring, “Please consider me an applicant for the _______________(name of scholarship) you offer.”

  1. Keep Paragraphs Short

Each paragraph of your cover letter for scholarship award should address a unique point and should be pretty short. Pick and choose among the following possibilities as you seek to persuade readers to move you to the next step in the process.

  • Knowledge of your chosen field
  • Motivation and enthusiasm for your field
  • Financial need (be careful here – you do not want to be “tacky” or to seem to be begging)
  • Your strengths – independence, leadership, maturity, stability, etc.
  1. Understand the Difference Between an Essay and a Letter

If you are asked to submit an essay, then don’t write a letter. Take the same information and put it in essay form.

A Few Additional Tips

  1. Find the balance between enumerating your “positives” and “bragging.”
  2. Don’t exaggerate – it usually comes through
  3. Be certain to proofread carefully – it has to be perfect

It may be a good idea to get some professional help as you craft this letter, especially if you have any concern about your writing skills. This is an important piece of writing.

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