Who gives the scholarships?
- Charitable Foundations
- Memorial scholarships established by family members
- Professional Associations
- Labor Unions
- Women's groups
- State and Federal government
- College and academic departments
How do I find the right one for me?
Find a good fit by thinking for yourself! Where do you come from? What is your family history? Where are you employed? What organizations do you belong to? What about your family situation? What makes you who you are?
Keeping your grades up is important, but not all scholarships put grades first.
Don't limit yourself! If you meet the criteria -- apply.
What websites can I use to search for scholarships?
We have a list of scholarship search engines that can help you narrow down your search. Some of these websites may ask you to create a profile/account to filter out the scholarships you might be eligible for. We also provide a list of websites that offer scholarships to students with specific identities.
Where can I find help on campus?
If you are an MSU Denver student...
The Institute for Women's Studies and Services
1059 9th St. Park, 9am - 5pm M-F
(Summer hours 9am - 4pm)
Walk-ins are welcome. See us for:
- A list of over 200 scholarships;
- A list of scholarship search engines and specific searches for minority students;
- Help with starting, revising, and/or editing scholarship essays and applications;
- Help with the MSU Denver Scholarship Application, FAFSA, or Dreamer Student Application
Office of Financial Aid Scholarship Center
See them for questions about the MSU Denver Scholarship application, access to computers, and news about deadlines.
Submit the MSU Denver scholarship application no later than March 1st for priority consideration for a wide range of internal and external scholarships. But read the fine print carefully to check for "additional requirements" and follow up by contacting that department directly. You may need to write another essay or complete another application.
The Writing Center
KC-415 and SSB 230G-237
303-556-6070 (call for hours)
See them for additional help on your essay.
If you are a CU-Denver student...
Scholarship / Resource Office
Tivoli Student Union, Suite 259
Walk-ins are welcome. See them for:
- Appointments for individualized assistance on the scholarship process, scholarship matches, essays and ideas for searches;
- An updated and expanding database divided by college, diversity, graduate and international study;
- CU-Denver-only regional and national scholarships.
If you are a CCD student...
Office of Financial Aid
See them for information about scholarships and questions about financial aid.
In the community
Ask people about local organizations and groups offering scholarships. Are you connected with particular advocacy groups or professional associations?
Remember to ask your own employer or union. Perhaps the national office or local branch offers scholarships to employees.
Ask your parents about their own employers, social groups, professional affiliations, unions, military service, and so forth as you may qualify as a family member.
Plan ahead, don't lose out by missing a deadline.
- Develop a list of your best scholarship prospects.
- Make a timeline with the deadlines for each scholarship and post it where you'll see it everyday.
- Request or download copies of each application.
- Make a checklist of requirements for each.
- Order academic transcripts if needed.
- Complete and organize any financial forms and records (income taxes, FAFSA, etc).
- Ask early for letters of recommendation.
Start a scholarship portfolio.
Use a binder/folder or online storage program (Dropbox, OneDrive, flashdrive, etc.) to organize your scholarship portfolio. Create seperate sections for the items you will need. See below for example items:
- Most recent tax-return
- Financial records to explain your financial circumstances, e.g. utility bills, child care bills, medical expenses
- Updated resume
- A list of extracurricular activities, community services or awards/recognitions
- Academic transcripts
- Financial aid and award notices
- Copy of your FAFSA or DREAMer Application, or other financial aid forms
- A checklist for your scholarship search
- A copy of your completed sample application
- A copy of every application you have obtained
- Timeline for your scholarship search with every deadline record clearly recorded
- Drafts of your general scholarship essay (personal statement)
- Drafts of essays tailored for particular scholarships
- Back-up records of your essay(s)
Letters of Recommendation File:
- Updated contact information for each person writing on your behalf
- A list of the dates you contacted them to ask for a letter
- Copies of all letters received
Give it your best shot!
The more people each year need scholarships, and funds are short.
- Be proactive - search for new scholarships regularly.
- Be persuasive - write a winning essay.
- Be professional - submit a timely, complete well-written application.
- Be patient - don't give up!
Most scholarships are for small amounts so you can count on applying for a lot of applications. Your portfolio is complete by now, so this wont be too hard.
- Never build a strong portfolio and then just apply for one scholarship.
- Update your portofolio at least twice a semester; at the beginning and at the end.
- Reapply! If you are rejected, ask about reapplying. If you are successful, also ask about reapplying. Some community groups like to support individual students over time.
The essay is probably the most important part of any scholarship application.
This is your chance to make your application jump out of the pile -- make the most of it!
Use an outline to organize your thoughts
- Hook readers early -- making them care about you.
- Write a powerful, short paragraph expressing the theme of your essay.
- Address every question asked.
Tell a compelling story -- its all about you!
- What makes you unique?
- Why do you qualify for this particular scholarship?
- What makes you a good investment?
- What obstacles have you overcome?
- What is your family history?
- Are you the first generation in your family to go to college?
- What are you doing with your life?
- What are your educational plans and goals?
- What are your career goals?
- How will this scholarship help?
Put yourself in the selection committee's shoes.
- What do you want them to know about you?
- Be creative.
- Be honest.
- Make your strengths shine.
Write your essay very carefully. Look for feedback, revise, and rewrite.
- Answer the question.
- Follow guidelines for length very carefully.
- Standard font size, spacing margin.
- Use language used in the question.
- Use active verb form and descriptive language.
- Be specific (early childhood education, not "education").
- Proofread for grammar and punctuation more than once. Don't rely on Spell Check!
For personal help with an application or essay, please call the MSU Denver Institute for Women's Studies and Services (303.556.8441) and make an appointment with a scholarship tutor. Walk-ins are welcomed.
When do I start?
Start early! Don't Wait until the last minute. Look for scholarships throughout your academic career. Develop a list of scholarship prospects suited for YOU.
Make time for scholarship searching and applications. Think of it as a research project -- take it step by step for the best results, and ask for help when you need it. If you are persistent and effective, your time and effort can bring you money.
Remember, scholarships are a competitive process -- and you must be your best advocate. You know best which scholarships fit you situation.
Start Today! And don't stop until you graduate. Even if you've just missed an important deadline, there are always more scholarship deadlines. Although the majority of scholarship applications are due in the spring, don't forget community-based scholarship applications can have summer and fall deadlines.
What's the difference between financial aid and scholarships?
Financial Aid is governmental funding coordinated through the Office of Financial Aid at colleges and universities. Federal grants, (i.e., Pell grants) work study, and student loans, are forms of financial aid. Most aid funds are limited; it is critical that you meet your college priority date by submitting you Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on time. The date may vary from year-to-year, but is usually mid March.
Scholarships are competitive awards offered by various sources. Business, corporations, civic and social clubs, churches, individuals and colleges offer scholarships with specific eligibility criteria. These national or local scholarships are open to the general college population. Colleges also offer scholarships through major/minor departments and endowments, and these are for students attending a particular college.
Is scholarship money taxed?
Scholarship money in excess of the cost of tuition and fees, books and supplies, is subject to federal income tax under the Tax Reform Act of 1996. Contact your local IRS office for more information. Ask for IRS Publication 520 (1991)
How will scholarship money affect my financial aid package?
Scholarship money will affect your financial aid if you are offered an amount over the "unmet need" listed on your Award Offer. If you do receive more than your unmet need, the amount will be deducted from your loans before it affects grant or work-study money. If you have any concerns about financial aid or have been offered a scholarship, talk directly to your personal financial aid counselor to clarify your situation.
What criteria are considered?
Eligibility criteria vary greatly and are usually based on the values or goals of the group offering the scholarship. Some of the more common criteria include grade point average (GPA), financial need, sex, age, race, ethnic identity, religious affiliation, major or minor, geographic location, talent, athletic ability, community activism, hobbies, and/or membership or involvement in a particular organization. You must meet all the criteria for a particular scholarship in order to be eligible.
What does the application process involve?
The application process for each scholarship is different. A typical application consists of a one-to-two page form requesting general biographical information and an essay. Essay topics also vary. The essay is a critical part of the application because it is often the only information the selection committee will have about each candidate.
When are scholarship applications available?
Scholarship applications are usually available four to eight weeks prior to the application deadline. The application process usually takes place a semester prior to the semester that you receive the money.
How much money should I expect?
Scholarship awards vary in amount from $50 to thousands of dollars. You are allowed to receive more than one scholarship at a time.
I haven't received any scholarships before. Why don't I just give up?
More people apply than can be awarded funds so rejection comes with the territory. Don't personalize this! Many factors come into play:
- Your competition in this round may be especially steep.
- You may not make the first cut if some factors are weighted more than others (e.g. economic need).
- The selection committee imposes new criteria as they go.
- You met the basic criteria, but were not a good fit with the overall goals of this particular application.
- And, of course, if your application is incomplete, sloppy, poorly written or late, it may not be considered at all.
What if I never hear back?
Being patient is hard, especially when you really need money. You may not hear back about a scholarship you applied for, however you may call them and ask:
- If they accept reapplications. How often can you reapply?
- For guidance about submitting a stronger application.
Asking for help can be difficult --
but typically your professor, employer, or colleague will be very pleased to do what they can to help with your scholarship search. Unless the scholarship application specifically advises against it or requests that no additional materials be forwarded, don't hesitate to include a strong letter of reference.
Carefully select the person
Consider the particular scholarship requirements.
Ask a professor, mentor, supervisor, colleague, or associate in your community or volunteer work.
Provide ample time -- this is critical!
Allow four to six weeks for your references to write the letter.
Ask to have it at least one to two weeks before the deadline.
Provide a personal profile and the application. By giving these to your reference, they will have the following information:
- Description of the kind of letter you need and specific questions to be addressed in the letter, if any.
- To whom the letter should be addressed.
- What scholarship you are applying for.
- When the letter is due.
- Details about your future plans.
- Details about you and your future plans.
- Jog their memory about your relationship.
- Provide the information for a more personal, convincing, and complete letter of recommendation.
Don't forget the details
- Is your letter to be attached to the application?
Select a date for your to either pick up your letter of reference or have it mailed to your home, but be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope.
- Is your letter to be mailed directly to the scholarship committee?
Include a self-addressed stamped envelope and the date it is due to the committee.
- Writing letters is time-consuming and difficult work.
- Let your reference know whether you were successful or not.
- Thank you notes are always appreciated!