Preparing for Scholarships: A Step-by-Step Guide to Required Documents

What is a Scholarship?

A scholarship is like a special gift for a student. You can get it for doing really well in school or if you need help to pay for school. There are two main types: one for being super good at school (merit-based) and one for needing help with money (need-based). The people or groups who give out scholarships decide who gets them and how the money can be used.


Scholarship money helps with school costs like tuition, books, a place to stay, and food. It’s all the important things you need for learning.


They give out scholarships based on different things, not just grades. They look at how involved you are in school and your community, if you’ve had jobs before, what you want to learn, and if you need money to go to school.


How to Prepare for Scholarship to Study Abroad?


Applying for a college or university scholarship carries just as much weight as applying for an academic program, so it’s a responsibility that should be handled with utmost care. As you’re aware, scholarships are typically awarded to students who have demonstrated exceptional academic performance. Therefore, it’s essential to approach scholarship opportunities with advanced preparation or a realistic assessment of your eligibility.

What Documents are Needed for a Scholarship Application?

One critical step to take is this: before you submit your scholarship application, even if you are highly confident in your qualifications, reach out to an advisor at the university you intend to apply to (or have already applied to) and gather more comprehensive information.


Many of the documents required for the scholarship application process overlap with those that the university will request when you apply for an undergraduate or graduate degree program. So, it’s a sensible practice to prepare these documents meticulously.


Complete Scholarship Application Form: Fill out all parts of the application form completely and accurately.


Passport/ID Copies: Your passport must be valid for at least six months after your planned departure date. Only a copy of the main page with your photo and contact information is required.


Transcripts/Diploma Copies: Include transcripts from your most recent or current school (high school transcripts for Bachelor’s degree applications; Bachelor’s transcripts for Master’s degree applications). These transcripts should include your official signature, a school/faculty stamp, and a detailed list of your courses, grades, and credits.


Purpose statement/motivation letter

This statement should be no more than one page long, around 400 words long, and should explain why you applied to the chosen degree course and how it relates to your future studies and career goals. It is critical to be honest and not exaggerate anything in this statement/letter of motivation. You should also briefly describe your qualities and how they relate to the degree you have chosen.


1 or 2 letters of recommendation

Typically, only one letter of recommendation is required, but in some cases, two letters of recommendation may be required. The recommendation letter(s) should only come from one of your teachers/lecturers or your employer/person who supervised your work (volunteering work counts as well). This letter provides the scholarship provider with additional information about your qualities, skills, and intellectual capacity, as well as your desire or motivation for the degree course and/or university you selected.


Curriculum Vitae (CV)/Resume

Even if you don’t have any work experience at the time you apply for a scholarship, you can simply list all of your academic accomplishments, hobbies, interests, achievements, and social skills. Include all languages you know (including language certificates), but be honest about your proficiency level; include computer skills, volunteer work, and any other courses you completed (even short courses), especially if they are related to your study field.


Standardized test results

When deciding who receives a scholarship, the university may consider SAT, ACT, GRE, GPA, and other test scores. Most of the time, high scores are the most important; however, the scholarship offer is rated using a holistic approach, taking into account all relevant documents.


Additional documents that may be requested include: 


a) an essay

In addition to the letter of motivation, you may be asked to write an essay on a specific topic, usually related to the scholarship. Consider what personal accomplishments recommend you for the scholarship. Follow the essay’s guidelines exactly and make sure you don’t go over the word count by too much.


b) When applying to art, design, and similar degree programs, students must submit a portfolio of their artistic work and projects. When it comes to demonstrating your skills for an art degree, your portfolio is actually more important than your GPA.


c) We may need financial information from your parents, such as their tax returns.


d) A medical report or health evaluation form from a clinic or hospital in your home country will be required.


Remember that all documents should be translated into either English or the official language of the destination country, but confirm the specific language requirements ahead of time!


Financial Details:


  • Tax Returns: Some scholarships, particularly those based on financial need, may require you to submit copies of your or your parents’ most recent tax returns. This assists the scholarship committee in determining your financial need.


  • FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid): Many scholarships in the United States require you to complete the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid. Even if you are not applying for a federal scholarship, the FAFSA is used to assess your financial situation.


  • Financial Statements: You may be required to provide bank statements or other financial statements in order to accurately demonstrate your financial situation.


  • Proof of Income: Some scholarships, in addition to tax returns, may require proof of your or your family’s income, such as pay stubs or employer letters.


Evidence of Citizenship or Eligibility:

Proof of Citizenship: If the scholarship is limited to specific citizenship or residency requirements (e.g., U.S. citizens, permanent residents, international students), you must provide proof of your legal status in that country.

If you are an international student, you may be required to provide a copy of your visa, residence permit, or other immigration-related documents.

Membership Proof: Some scholarships are offered by specific organizations or associations, and you may be required to provide proof of membership or affiliation with that group.

Final thoughts before submitting all of your scholarship application materials

  1. Before sending your application form and any other documents, double-check them for spelling and grammar errors.


  1. Do not go over the word limit for any section of the application or any other documents you may be asked to write.


  1. Please only submit the requested documentation.


  1. It is strongly advised that you make a complete copy of the application before sending it.


  1. Keep in mind the exact date by which you must send all of the requested documents and be mindful of not missing the deadline.


Here are some important things to do:

  • Talk to an Advisor: Before you apply, talk to someone at the college you want to go to. They can give you more information about scholarships.
  • Fill Out the Application Form: Make sure to complete all the parts of the application form correctly.
  • Copy Your Passport or ID: You need to show a copy of your passport with your photo and information. It should be valid for at least six more months.
  • Get Your School Records: You’ll need to show your school grades and diplomas. These should have your school stamp, your signature, and details about the classes you took.
  • Write a Purpose Statement: This is a letter that tells why you want to study and how it’s related to your future. Be honest and don’t exaggerate.
  • Ask for Recommendations: You might need one or two letters from teachers or bosses to say good things about you.
  • Make a Resume: Even if you don’t have work experience, you can list your school achievements, hobbies, and more.
  • Standardized Test Scores: Sometimes, you’ll need scores from tests like SAT, ACT, GRE, or GPA. They look at all your scores to decide.

Some other things they might ask for include:

  • An Essay: This is like a story about yourself and why you want the scholarship.
  • Portfolio: If you’re into art or design, you’ll need to show your best work.
  • Financial Information: They might want to know about your family’s money, like tax returns.
  • Medical Report: You’ll need to show you’re healthy.

Remember, you might also need to translate all these documents into English or the language of the country you’re going to. And don’t forget to check the deadline to send everything. It’s important to make sure everything is correct and on time!


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