Frequently Asked Questions
Qualifications are based on eligibility and criteria. You qualify to apply for any opportunity for which you meet the eligibility requirements, i.e., citizenship, class year, field of study, age, and GPA. You may technically qualify for a given fellowship, but you also need to determine if you meet the criteria for selection. Browse the Scholarship/Fellowship list to learn more about available opportunities and also meet with a fellowship coordinator to discuss your eligibility.
Chances of winning these scholarships vary tremendously. You should consider whether or not your particular interests, experiences, and professional aspirations make you a good fit for a particular scholarship. One way to assess "fit" for a scholarship is to look at the previous winners (their websites typically provide brief bios of previous scholars). It is wise to carefully consider the criteria for selection to determine if you are a strong candidate. However, the process of applying will be helpful for you to verbalize your goals and your career trajectory. Some of the essays you write for the scholarship application may be helpful for other applications, such as those for graduate school or for medical school/law school. Just remember: if you don’t apply, you cannot win!
An “institutional endorsement” is a letter of support required for some of the most prestigious scholarships. It indicates that the applicant is submitting an application with official approval of their college or university. An institutional endorsement usually indicates that a fellowship nominee has gone through an internal selection process. These opportunities require a university endorsement: Fulbright, Marshall, Mitchell, NSEP Boren, Rhodes, Truman.
Some scholarships, such as Goldwater, permit only a limited number of applicants from each university, and in many cases request formal letters of nomination for applicants. If an institutional nomination is required, then the applicant must follow campus application procedures before the final application is submitted to the funding agency.
You can apply for multiple fellowships at the same time. Having previously won another award, or even having applied for the same fellowship in the past, will not hurt your chances. Since many scholarships and fellowships are geared towards similar students, you should apply for as many as interest you and that you have time to prepare.
Yes. The majority of scholarships listed are for US citizens, but you should check the requirements for eligibility. Some scholarship programs like the Rhodes and Fulbright will accept applicants through their home countries. Contact the Coordinators for further information.
Certainly - most of the application process is conducted electronically. Students should understand that support like workshops and mock interviews cannot always be arranged while students are abroad.
Maybe, but you must contact a fellowship coordinator several months ahead of the national deadline to let us know of your interest. The campus deadline is set for the applicant's best interest as the application and revision process cannot be done overnight.
Preparation of the Application
In some instances, a Fellowship Coordinator can show you some examples of previous winning applications, but for the most part, there is no template available for the perfect application.
Most of the recent winners are probably not on campus, but many of them are willing to speak with you about their experiences. A list of recent winners is available on this website; ask a Fellowship Coordinator for contact information.
Students can meet with a Fellowship Coordinator, but should also meet with a faculty advisor in your discipline, about what is expected in each essay.
It is a one-to-two page response to the question asked on an application; it is a requirement designed to allow the selection committee to get to know you, your interests, your goals, and why you are a perfect fit for the scholarship. The personal statement takes time. It is important that this statement honestly reflects you and your values in a positive, concise way. The Fellowship Coordinators will work with you one-on-one to help you improve your personal statement.
The quick answer: as many as you need! While no applicant goes through the same process, most applicants will end up writing at least 5 - 10 drafts before the final version is produced. Each draft may explores different narratives, use different techniques, and employ different emphases. The process of rethinking and revising will help you hone your focus and strengthen the application as a whole.
When it comes to reading and editing the personal statement, the more eyes, the better. Submit your work to the Fellowships Coordinators, and also ask your professors, mentors, friends, and parents to read it. They will let you know if the statement truly reflects who you are and clearly defines where you want to go and why. Other readers will be able to spot areas in need of improvement that may escape your attention.
Letters of Recommendation
Scholarships can require anywhere from two to eight letters of recommendation. You should read the application instructions carefully when thinking about whom to ask for letters of support. Also consult a Fellowship Coordinator about whether all of the letters need to come from faculty.
It depends on the scholarship or fellowship. Ideally you should ask faculty members, USA staff or individuals in the community who have had a chance to get to know you well. For faculty, it should be those who know you beyond the scope of the normal classroom setting. These can be individuals with whom who you have worked on a research program, or simply ones with whom you have connected outside of class.
Many competitions will ask you to waive or not waive your right to see letters submitted on your behalf. Candid letters are said to carry more weight. Thus, you should usually waive your right to see the letter.
As a general rule, YES, although it may depend on the scholarship. It is best to check with a Fellowship Coordinator when requesting transcripts. You may also have to request individual transcripts from all undergraduate institutions that you have attended since beginning at USA, or from study abroad programs.
Information provided by:
U Nebraska Lincoln www.unl.edu/fellowships