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.
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
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:
580 Chase Ln
New Meadows, ID 83654
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! If you are looking for a few tips on how to write your scholarship resume, check out our resume guide!