Scholarship Application Tips

Most scholarship applications will require these common elements:

  • Your basic biographical and contact information
  • Your current and/or cumulative GPA (official or unofficial transcripts may be requested)
  • An essay based on particular questions called prompts
  • References—at least one or two teachers, professors, or personal contacts—who aren’t immediate family members—who would be willing to recommend you
  • Some applications will require an online portfolio link or samples of your creative or academic work (research or thesis abstract, etc.)

Let’s get started!

Free Workshops

The UO Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship (OFAS) offers multiple free workshops beginning in fall term to assist students with preparing to find and apply for funding opportunities. View the OFAS scholarship workshops schedule for updated dates and times.

During fall term, Student Services offers drop-in help sessions for students to ask questions about the UO, College of Design, departmental, or any other scholarship opportunities they’re interested in pursuing. These sessions are promoted through the Student Services’ enews and via various other communication channels.

Get Organized

Make a list of the opportunities you plan to apply for and note their deadlines on your calendar. Your application for any scholarship will likely be one of many, so apply to as many different opportunities as you can to increase your odds of being selected.

Start thinking about a basic essay now so that you are ready to fill out applications any time during the academic year. Learn more about writing your essay below.

Gather your work samples and/or prepare your portfolio.

Open the application and read it thoroughly as soon as you learn about it. Be detail oriented when reviewing application instructions. Don’t wait until the day it’s due to find out what it requires. Because scholarships are competitive, multiple mistakes or not following the application instructions may lower your score by review committees.

Google yourself. Some review committees will use social media as part of their evaluation process. Where possible, make sure online content portrays you well.

Contact faculty members or personal contacts (non-familial) now who may be willing to recommend you. Get their permission to list them as references and let them know when you've used their names.

Write Your Essay

Essays are one of the most important ways you can set yourself apart.

Your essay gives the review committee a chance to learn about you as an individual. Be genuine in how you express yourself. Write in a way that reflects your personality, your strengths, your life experiences, and your influences (moments, people, places). Write as if you were speaking to a review committee member.

Everyone has a unique story. Consider how you will communicate your story to the committee and how to use the core of your story to frame your essay.

Write a basic essay that you can use as a master document to modify for specific applications according to the prompt questions that each application will ask.

Grammar, writing mechanics, and errors matter. Proofread carefully, have someone whose writing skills you trust proofread for you, or work with the UO Tutoring and Academic Engagement Center in the Knight Library for help with writing strategies and grammar.

Know your audience. If you are applying for a scholarship outside the UO, do some research on the organization offering the scholarship to help you understand what they’re looking for.

Refer back to the prompt questions. Make sure you address the questions asked.

Watch Out for Scholarship Scams

Applying for scholarships can be time-consuming, and it’s easy to want to apply for everything you find.

Be aware of these signs of possible scams:

  • Fees: Legitimate scholarship applications won’t charge you to apply!
  • Unsolicited Scholarship Offers: If you’re contacted by social media, phone call or email about a scholarship offer that you’ve never heard of, be suspicious! Scholarships are awarded by application, review and selection processes.
  • Selection Guarantees: Scholarship processes cannot guarantee that any applicant will be selected.
  • Requests for Personal Information: Applications for scholarships should not ask for your personal identification such as Social Security or student ID numbers. Ask a tax expert if that information is requested as part of notifying you that you’ve been selected to receive a scholarship.
  • No Contact Information: If the organization offering the scholarship doesn’t list any contact information or ways to ask questions, be suspicious.
  • “Contest v. “Scholarship”: Be aware of opportunities that initially advertise themselves as “scholarships,” but then use words like “prize.” Particularly if they require you to submit original creative work, read the fine print carefully for indications your work could be used for the organization’s benefit without compensation to you, even if you’re not selected.

For more information, read this news article about avoiding scholarship scams.


Contact the Student Services office at or on Teams chat.

Be sure to visit the Student Services scholarships page for more information.