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Tips for Successful Scholarship Applications

Scholarships through the Education Abroad office are awarded primarily based on financial need, but we consider various information and factors in our decision. Even if you do not receive financial aid at CU, you can/should still apply. Students that have some level of financial need will also be evaluated based on the following criteria (of secondary importance):

  • Academic record and/or merit, exemplified by your grade point average or other indicator of merit.
  • Proof of your ability to communicate and be an effective ambassador of the University of Colorado and the United States, as illustrated by a written essay.
  • How your program/location choice will impact your academic, professional and/or personal goals.

General tips for writing your scholarship essay:

It is imperative that you provide detailed responses to the questions that are asked in the scholarship application and that you address each question. The more detail that you provide, the more information we have to measure the above factors. This doesn't mean that your essay needs to be extremely long. Rather, be specific with your responses and don’t ignore any of the questions that are asked.

  • Avoid general statements such as "I really deserve this scholarship" or "I have a great deal of financial need" or "I will be a great ambassador of the U.S." The problem with such statements is that they do not explain WHY. Keep in mind that all students applying for scholarships believe that they deserve a scholarship, so you must provide specific reasons. Be specific, and provide examples or detailed explanations of why and how you meet the scholarship criteria.  For example, "I have very high financial need because my father was recently laid off" or "I deserve this scholarship because I work part-time during school and I have been saving for study abroad since high school" or "I deserve this scholarship because my education abroad program directly relates to my future intended career (continue on to explain how/why).
  • Tell us about any special circumstances that affect your ability to finance education abroad (or your family's ability to finance education abroad). Examples include: a parent being laid off, recent divorce of parents with financial consequences for your education, recent medical care resulting in high medical costs. If you believe that you have a situation that could affect your scholarship decision, but you are not comfortable writing about it in your essay, please talk to an Education Abroad Advisor or Program Manager to express your concerns.
  • Be sure to tell us if you work during the school year, and how many hours per week you work. It is assumed that students work during summers, but we favorably view students who also work during the semester (even if just a few hours per week).
  • Be sure to tell us about any sacrifices you are making (or plan to make) to help fund your education abroad experience. Examples include: living at home during the school year or summer to save money, selling your car, foregoing spring break trips, etc.
  • Be sure to explain how your program choice is related to your major, future career or other academic reasons. This explanation does not need to be extremely detailed - usually a few sentences or short paragraph are sufficient. Personal goals can also be included, although goals for recreation and travel are not viewed as highly as academic/career goals.
  • If you chose a more expensive program over a less-expensive program in the same country or region, explain why.
  • Pay attention to spelling, grammar, sentence structure and formatting. The Scholarship Committee understands that writing may not come easily to all students, and we don't expect your essay to be of Pulitzer-prize winning quality! However, do pay attention to your sentence structure, spelling, grammar, etc. Poorly written essays will decrease your chance of receiving an award. It is suggested that you have a friend read over your essay to catch mistakes or utilize the free services of the CU Writing Center.