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How to Write a Cover Letter for Scholarship

In this guide, you'll learn how to write a cover letter for scholarship to make your application stand out and increase your chances of winning an award!

Feb 23, 2024
  • Student Tips
How to write a cover letter for scholarship

If you're considering applying for a scholarship, you know that one of the key components of a successful scholarship application is a well-written cover letter. Particularly if you've just graduated high school and might not have the advantage of an extensive work history, your cover letter often weighs more than your resume in the selection process. So it's important to ensure that you put the effort into a cover letter that showcases your strengths and qualifications.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive and detailed guide on how to write a cover letter for scholarship.

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What is a scholarship cover letter?

A scholarship cover letter, often referred to as a letter of motivation, is very similar to a cover letter you've probably already written for a job or a motivation letter for your Bachelor's application. It is a letter that a student writes to the scholarship committee to request their consideration for the scholarship. The main purpose is to highlight your academic accomplishments and academic record and persuade the committee members that they are a deserving candidate.

In this letter, you showcase your strengths and skills in order to explain what makes you a top applicant for a particular grant. Also, you can provide a more detailed overview of your academic and extracurricular achievements and aspirations that may not be captured in a standard CV.

Why should you write a cover letter for a scholarship?

So you've already determined why you should apply for a scholarship, and now you should do your best to make it happen. Scholarship committees get many applications from students with great grades, numerous extracurriculars, and high exam scores. So your goal is to make your application stand out and explain why you should receive the award.

A cover letter for a scholarship gives you an advantage by allowing you to outline how a particular grant aligns with your future research or work plans. Although not every scholarship application requires a cover letter, when they do, it's very likely that it matters more for the committee than your CV or academic records. Therefore use this chance to showcase your strengths and set yourself apart from other applicants.

Writing a cover letter for a scholarship: step-by-step guide

A happy student

After reading your letter, the reviewing committee should get a better understanding of:

  • your strengths and why they make you a great match for the grant
  • what your goals are and how this scholarship can help you accomplish them.

Here's a helpful step-by-step guide on how to write a cover letter for scholarship:

Review the scholarship’s application requirements

Before writing your cover letter for a scholarship, carefully review the application requirements. There are many scholarships out there and each one of them can have different expectations, so make sure to do thorough research to tailor your cover letter to a specific grant. Also, remember to check the length limit as it determines the number of paragraphs and the amount of information you can add.

This can give you a better understanding of what to include in your application to showcase your strengths in a way that fits the requirements. It can be beneficial to highlight the experiences and skills that are not included in your resume but may increase your chances of being a top applicant.

Write an introduction

The introduction is your chance to make a positive first impression on the scholarship committee and let them get to know you. Start your cover letter with an introductory paragraph covering:

  • who you are,
  • how you learned about the scholarship,
  • why it sparked your interest.

Avoid using generic phrases and try to tailor your introduction to the specific scholarship you are applying for.

Highlight your professional experience and internships

This is the first body paragraph. Here you should highlight relevant skills and accomplishments and your professional experience and internships, if you have any. Depending on the scholarship requirements and targeted fields, choose the best-fitting experiences and explain how they helped you gain knowledge and acquire skills related to your degree. This can demonstrate your commitment to learning and personal growth.

Share your academic ambitions and interests

Describe your academic interests and ambitions in the second body paragraph. Generally, scholarships aim to help students fund their education and support their interest in academia. So the scholarship committees may look for candidates with academic aspirations and ambitions.

If one of your main reasons for applying for a scholarship is a lack of finances, consider mentioning this in your scholarship cover letter. In this case, emphasize how this funding can boost your education and help you reach your academic goals.

Talk about your aspirations post-graduation

Other important points to discuss are your post-graduation aspirations and long-term goals. Establishing your plan, whether pursuing a graduate degree or entering the workforce, can show the reviewing committee how this scholarship is a good investment in you and your future and aligns with your desires. Highlight the impact that receiving funding could have on your career post-graduation.

Summarize your goals and credentials with a conclusion

The last of the body paragraphs summarizes your goals and credentials. Restate your interest in the scholarship and why you are a great candidate, include your contact information and a call to action to encourage the committee to reach out to you. You can use this paragraph to express gratitude for considering your scholarship application.

Proof-read and update your cover letter

Always check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes as they signify a lack of attention to detail. Read your letter a few times, maybe even come back to it the next day with a fresh perspective. A study on the impact of errors in the application shows that they negatively affect the perception of an applicant's interpersonal skills, conscientiousness, and mental abilities.

Also, it can be a good idea to ask someone else, a friend who'd written that kind of cover letter in the past, or, ideally, a professor, to review it and provide their insights and feedback. This lowers the chance of overlooking any errors and may help you adjust your tone and writing style.

Tips for writing a great cover letter for a scholarship

Apart from the overall structure, there are some key things you should keep in mind while writing a scholarship cover letter:

Match your writing style with the tone of the scholarship provider

It's important to determine which writing style and tone you should use. Different organizations look for different levels of professionalism and qualities. If the organization is interested in your academic performance, it's best to use a formal tone. On the other hand, if you're sharing personal stories, a more casual tone may be appropriate.

Include quantifiable accomplishments

Depending on the criteria related to applicants' skills and accomplishments, choose quantifiable achievements that can make it easier for the reviewing committee to see how you compare to other candidates. For example, your GPA, the project you're most proud of, and numerical data about your performance in relevant academic and extracurricular activities.

Format your letter in a professional manner

Ensure your letter matches the recommended formatting to make it look more professional:

  • use a simple, legible font and an appropriate size
  • check the margins on the sides
  • check the spacing between the lines
  • try to keep the length to a single page
  • double-check for spelling mistakes.

A tip from Swedish Institute Scholarship recipient Suci Ariyanti:

You are expected to describe yourself in short but rich sentences. Thus, train yourself to write motivational letters/essays - as many as possible - so that you are able to produce a perfect one later on.

Make your cover letter unique and personal to your interests and achievements

The reviewing committee read hundreds and hundreds of cover letters, they've seen all those generic sentences thousands of times, so use this opportunity to make your cover letter personal. Be upfront about your specific goals and your story. Include all relevant information that can help you stand out and showcase your individuality.

Share information in your cover letter which is an addition to your CV

Since the resume usually has a specific format, the information you can include is somewhat limited and focuses primarily on your main accomplishments and general points. That's where a cover letter comes to help. Use it to mention the skills and experiences that you couldn't include in your CV but demonstrate your relevance to the specific opportunity and help you distinguish yourself from other candidates.

Mistakes to avoid in your cover letter for a scholarship

Students walking in the hallway

Make sure to avoid these common mistakes in your cover letter:

Don’t be vague with your achievements

For many students, it's hard to show off their accomplishments or even determine what those are. While being humble is a good trait, the cover letter is a chance to highlight all relevant achievements. Don't hesitate to mention something that you may not find impressive as it can help you stand out. Remember, the reviewing committee is made up of people and they are interested in getting to know you and your personal story.

Don’t forget to refer to evidence to back up your points

It is helpful to provide evidence to support your points. For example, you may consider mentioning the specific source of your skills or situations where you have successfully applied them. It's best to avoid including any information that cannot be backed up.


Our scholarships

Undergraduate in STEM Scholarship 2024

Application deadline: 13 October 2024 at 12:00 CEST

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Our STEM degree scholarship will be awarded to students beginning their STEM studies in the Fall 2024 semester or after and is worth up to $5,000. It's open to international students from all countries who will be studying an undergraduate STEM degree abroad at a college or university. We believe that students who study abroad become the next generation of globally-minded adventurers – so we want to help more of you do it.

Global Bachelor's Scholarship 2024

Application deadline: 27 October 2024 at 12:00 CEST

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We’re offering one Bachelor's degree scholarship of up to $5,000 to help cover your undergraduate tuition fees and get you one step closer to your next great adventure. This $5,000 scholarship will be awarded to students from any country beginning their undergraduate studies abroad at a college or university in the Fall 2024 semester or later.

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