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Write a Killer Cover Letter for a Scholarship in 2023 (w/Example)

David Jul 24, 2022

Write a Killer Cover Letter for a Scholarship in 2023 (w/Example)

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It’s easy to get put off by scholarship applications that require a cover letter. Cover letters may seem annoying but there is a bright side here. A simple letter gives you another opportunity to convince the scholarship committee that you deserve to win the award.

So how do you start? What should you include in the letter? How should you end it?  In this post, we’ll answer all these questions and we’ll even provide a sample letter that you can use as a template in the end. 

What Is a Cover Letter? 

Let’s start with the basics. A cover letter for a scholarship is similar to a cover letter you’d submit for a job . What does that mean exactly?

It’s simply a letter you write to the scholarship committee. In the letter you should explain what makes you a great candidate for the award. You should also talk about how the scholarship will help you reach your educational and career goals . 

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The scholarship committee wants to find the most fitting students to invest their money in. Make them see the reasons why they should they invest in you. 

Why a Cover Letter? 

scholarship cover letter template

Whether you have those things or not, many scholarship committees look for something else.  They look at students who have overcome struggles. Students who are leaders in their community. And students who have unique hobbies. Your cover letter is the place to show off your unique self.

Although not every scholarship application requires students to submit a cover letter, when they do, it’s a great idea to submit a great one. Use the opportunity to think about how can you make yourself stand out from other applicants. What is unique to you that other applicants don’t have? Brainstorm and show it off!

What Should Your Cover Letter Accomplish? 

Your cover letter should do the following: 

  • Highlight your strengths: Why do your strengths make you a good match for the scholarship? 
  • Express what your plans are for the future: How will this particular scholarship help get you there? 
  • Convey a clear structure: Your cover letter should flow in a clear and concise manner. 


Cover letters can be a great opportunity for you to convince the scholarship committee that you are the best candidate for the scholarship. Take time writing your cover letter and don’t wait until the final days before the deadline to start writing. A little bit of effort, could be the difference  that helps you win the award! 

Scholarship Cover Letter Example

Alexis Smith 4519 Owl St. Bend, OH 45052

The Scholarship Committee University of Pennsylvania  3440 Market Street Philadelphia, PA 19104 

To Whom It May Concern, 

My name is Alex Smith and I am a high school senior in Bend, Ohio. In the fall of 2019, I will be starting my freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania at the Annenberg School of Communication with an intended major in communications.

Since my freshman year of high school, I have served on my school’s journalism team. During freshman and sophomore year, I worked as a writer. By junior and senior year, I became the senior editor and co-manager of the school paper. Throughout my four years of being part of the club, I have learned so much about journalism; from pitching creative ideas, to carrying out interviews, and writing up an article. I have also learned about editing and publishing. Although these tasks intimidated me in the beginning, I can confidently say that I now feel very skilled and knowledgeable about the field. 

I am particularly passionate about giving the underserved population a voice to be heard. Some of my favorite interviews and articles I have published have been with female refugees from the community here in Ohio. Some of my articles have been published in our local paper in Bend. 

Of course, there is so much that I still have and want to learn. I am eager to start my undergraduate education and learn from experts in the field. I am excited to take journalism, communication, and marketing courses and learn everything there is to know. I am also hoping to work with the Pennsylvania Daily and join the journalism club on campus. I want to take advantage of every opportunity offered to further my career and personal growth.

As you are well aware, the cost of college is very high. As much as I have saved during high school, I will still have to take out loans to fund my college education. I am planning to work part-time during my studies, but I don’t want work to interfere too much with my school work. This scholarship would greatly help me cover some of these fees and give me more time to focus on school.

I am very hardworking and creative, and I can’t wait to contribute my talents to the University of Pennsylvania. I would be so grateful to receive a scholarship. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Alexis Smith

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How to Write a Cover Letter for Scholarship

Learn how to showcase your skills and personality in your scholarship cover letter and increase your chance of becoming a top applicant by reading our guide!

How to write a cover letter for scholarship

Article highlights

A scholarship cover letter is a crucial part of most scholarship applications. A well-written cover letter can have a significant impact in the decision-making process as it is your chance to showcase your unique experience and personality. In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know to write a great scholarship cover letter.

What is a scholarship cover letter?

A scholarship cover letter, also called a letter of motivation, is a letter you write to the scholarship committee to request their consideration for a grant and persuade them that you are a deserving candidate for the scholarship. The main intention is to highlight your academic accomplishments and academic record .

In this letter, you should showcase your strengths and skills in a way that explains why you are a great candidate for the scholarship. Also, this is your chance to provide a more detailed overview of your academic and extracurricular achievements and interests that may not be covered in a CV or resume .

3 reasons to write a scholarship cover letter

1. it can help make your application stand out.

Academic scholarships are extremely competitive so you need to make sure you do everything in your power to be considered. Here's where a scholarship cover letter steps in. Scholarship committees receive numerous applications from students with straight A's, extensive lists of extracurriculars, and high exam grades. Use your cover letter to stand out and explain why you should win the grant .

2. It allows you to communicate your future plans

For institutions and foundations, a scholarship is an investment, thus naturally they want to be confident that it will pay off. That's why outlining how a particular grant aligns with your future research or work plans can make you a top applicant.

3. It can demonstrate your level of English

The majority of scholarships for international students expect the applicants to have high English proficiency . Most of the time, they require you to attach a certificate to your application. But even then, seeing your level of language skills in a scholarship cover letter can win you some additional points. However, it's important not to go overboard - remember this isn't an artistic essay.

Different forms of scholarship cover letters

Students discussing something they see on the laptop

Apart from the standard scholarship cover letter, particular scholarships may require you to submit information about yourself in a different form. It can be:

  • a personal statement , which is meant to tell who you are as a person, your interests and motivations;
  • a motivation letter , which communicates why you chose a particular program or scholarship, as well as how you fulfill the requirements;
  • an essay , which typically answers one specific question about you;
  • a form or a document with a few questions , where you'll have to answer specific questions (which may or may not cover the information you'd usually provide in a cover letter).

How to write a cover letter for scholarship: step-by-step guide

The main purpose of a scholarship cover letter is to showcase your strengths and goals and why those make you a great match for the grant. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you write a cover letter for scholarship:

Review the scholarship’s application requirements

Before writing your cover letter for a scholarship, always check the application requirements . Every scholarship can have different expectations, some applications even have specific questions they want you to answer, so make sure to do thorough research to tailor your cover letter to a specific grant .

This can give you a better idea of what to include in your application and highlight the experiences and skills that are not included in your resume but may increase your chances of being the winner.

Write an introduction

The introduction is where you can make a positive first impression on the scholarship committee and let them get to know you. In the introductory paragraph, you should cover:

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

Avoid using generic phrases and templates, and adjust your introduction to better fit the specific scholarship you are applying for.

Highlight your professional experience and internships

In the first body paragraph, you should highlight relevant skills and achievements and your professional experience and internships . Depending on the scholarship requirements, choose suitable experiences from your previous education and explain how they allowed you to gain knowledge and skills related to a particular field. This can demonstrate your learning style and commitment to personal growth.

Share your academic ambitions and interests

Describe your academic interests and ambitions in the next body paragraph. Generally, scholarships search for potential and want to help promising students to pursue their interest in academia. So keep in mind that scholarship committees may look for candidates with academic aspirations and ambitions .

Talk about your aspirations post-graduation

It is also important to talk about your post-graduation aspirations and long-term goals. Whether you want to continue your education or enter the industry, show the reviewing committee how this scholarship is a good investment in your future. Highlight how this funding could impact your career post-graduation.

Summarize your goals and credentials with a conclusion

Restate your interest in the scholarship and why you are a great candidate in the last paragraph of your scholarship cover letter. You can include your contact information and encourage the reviewing committee to reach out to you. This is also a good place to express gratitude for considering your application.

Proof-read and update your cover letter

Always check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes at least twice as they can point to a lack of attention to detail. Consider asking someone else , ideally, a professor, to review it and provide their insights and feedback . This way you can avoid missing any errors and adjust your tone and writing style .

Tips for writing a scholarship cover letter

Here are some other important things you should keep in mind while writing a scholarship cover letter:

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

The reviewing committee has gone through many cover letters, having seen those generic templates and patterns numerous times. This is a chance for you to make your cover letter personal and unique . Describe your specific goals, showcase your personality, and provide all relevant information that can help you stand out.

Format your letter in a professional manner and check for errors

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

  • use a simple font and an appropriate size
  • check the margins on the sides of the pages
  • check the spacing between the lines
  • try to make it one page long (unless a different length is specified)

Always double- or triple-check for spelling mistakes . According to Forbes , typos and grammar mistakes are among the top 5 reasons why many students have their applications rejected.

Include quantifiable accomplishments

Choose quantifiable achievements that reflect the criteria related to applicants' skills and accomplishments. It helps the reviewing committee determine how you compare to other candidates . Consider including your grade average, your most notable project, and numerical data that demonstrates your performance in relevant academic and extracurricular activities.

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

It is helpful to refer to 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 .

Here's a piece of advice from Swedish Institute Scholarship recipient Suci Ariyanti :

Be honest. Never give false information, or exaggerate things. Not only will the SISGP committee do random checks on applicants, but it is also important to keep your integrity intact.

a photo and a quote from a Bachelor's in USA winner

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A scholarship cover letter gives you an opportunity to highlight your academic accomplishments and academic record and persuade the reviewing committee that you are a great candidate for the scholarship. Providing more information about you lets them get to know your personality and adds details to your application.

Make sure to spend enough time on this cover letter since it's a very important evaluation point during the decision-making process. Thoroughly research the requirements and tailor your letter to a specific scholarship . And don't forget that transparency is key , the selection committee aims to choose you for who you truly are!

scholarship cover letter template

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How to Write a Scholarship Cover Letter

scholarship cover letter template

Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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scholarship cover letter template

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

How to Write a Scholarship Cover Letter

Scholarship cover letters might seem intimidating, but they should not deter you from applying for scholarships. Sometimes, students are intimidated because they don’t know how to write a scholarship cover letter. The following guide includes a thorough description of what you should address in the letter and how to format it.

First, let’s talk about the most fundamental question: what’s the ultimate goal of the cover letter?

Goals of a scholarship cover letter

Create a personal appeal by letting your voice come through.

Most scholarship applications largely consist of forms and checklists, but cover letters are a great opportunity for the reader to hear you make your case in your own voice. While you should still maintain a formal tone, you should not be afraid to write personably.

Emphasize the importance of your accomplishments

Resumes and application forms are great opportunities to describe your duties at past positions you’ve held, but a cover letter is a great opportunity to go one step further.

Describe the skills developed in your past positions

Think about how past learning experiences helped shape your ambitions. For example, if you had an internship in the office of a local government official, you could use your cover letter to describe how your experiences helped hone your organizational skills and shape your sense of civic duty. 

  • Share what you hope to pursue and build upon

How will you work towards your future goals and build upon your past experiences? Scholarship readers want to award their funds to students with a strong sense of ambition and an exciting future. Emphasize that you have big plans for the future, and how you will use the scholarship to accomplish them.

Highlight circumstances not addressed in the scholarship application

For example, if you have community service experience, but there was not a question in the application that allowed you to mention that, a cover letter is a great place to bring it up. This may not be specifically relevant to the scholarship, but speaks to your character and can help put you ahead of the crowd.

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Differences between a scholarship cover letter and a scholarship essay

Scholarship essays and cover letters have a lot in common:

  • They are both opportunities to write about your future ambitions and show how you have reflected on your past experiences.
  • Both allow you to make a personal appeal to your reader, and to bring up relevant information that was left out of the rest of the application. 

However, while there is a lot of overlap between scholarship cover letters and scholarship essays, there are a few key differences:

  • Scholarship essays are written in response to a prompt, but scholarship cover letters do not have an explicit prompt. For students who are used to prompts, this can be a stumbling block.
  • One way to help overcome this open-endedness is to imagine the prompt as: “ Tell me about yourself and why you would be a good fit for this scholarship. ” Remember, the goal of a scholarship cover letter is to introduce yourself and to make a compelling case for your candidacy while highlighting assets not showcased in the rest of your application.
  • Another key difference is in formatting; there are specific formatting rules for a scholarship cover letter, which we will cover below. 

See also: How to write a winning scholarship essay

Formatting tips

While everyone’s cover letter is different and some scholarships may have specific requirements, here are a few general formatting tips to make your cover letter a success:

  • Cover letters should be 1 page long, and it can be beneficial to break them down into small paragraphs to help the reader digest them more easily.
  • They should also include a header with the date, your name and address, as well as your email and/or phone number.
  • After the header, skip a line, and write the date.
  • Skip another line, and include the name and title of the person you are addressing the letter to, and the address of the organization if available.

Some scholarships will list the name that the letter should be addressed. If you can’t find the name easily, try doing a bit of research to see if you can find the name of the person who will be reading your application. This can help put you ahead of your competition by showing that you did some additional research.

If you can’t find a name, you can skip that part of the header and write: “Dear selection committee” in your introduction. Here is an example header for someone who was able to find the name of their application reader:

James Wright 580 Chase Ln New Meadows, ID 83654 [email protected]

March 12, 2021

Ms. Carol Smith Better Business Bureau 12639 W Explorer Dr Boise, ID 83713

Dear Ms. Smith,

I am writing… ____________________________________________________________

Good luck writing your scholarship cover letter!  Be sure to apply to all the scholarships you qualify for. Remember, there are scholarships for all demographics, including for women , high school seniors , and Black students.  Some scholarships require essays and applications, but others are no-essay or easy to apply for scholarships . Remember, Scholarships360 is here to provide valuable resources and access to scholarships for students!

Key Takeaways

  • Create personal appeal by letting your unique voice come through
  • Emphasize the importance of your accomplishments and describe the skills learned in your past positions
  • Highlight circumstances not addressed in your scholarship application
  • Be mindful of any specific requirements when crafting your cover letter

scholarship cover letter template

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