Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as "Credible."
If you’re applying for a scholarship program, you’ll likely need to provide a letter of recommendation. This letter should usually come from someone in your academic career — ideally, someone who knows you well and can speak to your academic achievements and other attributes.
Finding the right person to ask for a letter of recommendation for a scholarship, and then securing a solid letter, gives your application the edge it needs to help you secure a scholarship. Here’s how to do it.
- Who to ask
- When to ask
- What information is needed?
- Do I need a letter of recommendation for a scholarship?
Who to ask about a letter of recommendation
You want to find someone who will have positive things to say about you and who can speak to your academic achievements or involvement in the community or on campus. Ideally, you’ll choose someone who knows you well, so they can write a letter that’s personalized to you.
For instance, you might ask a teacher, coach, or mentor with whom you have a close relationship. You can ask in person, or you can send an email asking them to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf.
Asking in person or over the phone
If you ask in person, consider having some of the information they’ll need for composing the recommendation letter written down, so you can hand it over during your conversation. If you’re talking to them over the phone, tell them you’ll send over an email with all the information they need to get started.
While you’re talking, make sure to explain why you’re applying for the scholarship and what the scholarship is about, as well as clearly communicate when they’ll need to complete the letter of recommendation by. Make sure they have your contact information for any follow-up questions.
Asking over email
You’ll provide the same information over email. Consider also offering the option to talk more if they need additional information or would like to further discuss the possibility of providing a letter of recommendation. It might feel like a big time commitment, but consider how much student loan interest a scholarship award could save you down the road.
While it’s understandable if you’re caught up in checking off the requirements for your scholarship application, make sure you don’t forget to follow up after they complete the letter. Thank them for their time, perhaps with a thoughtful email or, even better, a handwritten thank you card.
When to ask for a letter of recommendation
Aim to make your request at least a month or two in advance of when your scholarship application is due. Remember, you might not be the only person asking this individual for a letter of recommendation, and you want to make sure they have enough time to write a strong, polished, and personalized letter.
Clearly inform them of the deadline for the application to ensure timely completion and also offer instructions for how to submit their completed letter. Make sure to check in at least a week before the application is due to ensure the letter ends up in the right place by the designated deadline. You don’t want to miss this chance at securing funding for your education and be forced to rely more heavily on taking out student loans.
What information is needed for a letter of recommendation?
It’s also helpful to provide the information they will need to deliver a letter that adequately speaks to the scholarship program to which you’re applying. Aside from sharing the deadline and application submission details, consider providing the following details as well, if they’re relevant:
- What the scholarship is for
- What the selection criteria is
- Why you’re applying to the scholarship program
- What your plans are for the future and how this scholarship fits into that
- Any information that might speak to a weakness in your application
- An overview of your grades, activities, involvements, and achievements
Additionally, don’t hesitate to offer some direction for the recommendation letter, particularly if it’s for a unique scholarship program — remember, this is different than filling out a FAFSA or applying for student loans. For instance, if the letter is for a STEM scholarship, it may focus more on your accomplishments in math or engineering, whereas if it’s for a scholarship for first-generation students, the letter might speak more to that.
Learn More: How to Write a Letter of Recommendation
Do I need a letter of recommendation for a scholarship?
While the exact requirements will vary from scholarship to scholarship, you typically will need at least one letter of recommendation for a scholarship, if not multiple. These letters of recommendation can play a big role in the scholarship selection process, as getting a stellar letter of recommendation can help to set an application apart from the many others that scholarship programs typically receive.
As such, it’s worth dedicating as much time and attention to securing a solid letter of recommendation well in advance of your deadline as you would to other parts of your scholarship application.
Securing a scholarship can help trim the high cost of college. But if you find that the scholarship funds you’re awarded aren’t enough, also consider applying for state grants and other gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. You might also look into paid internships or part-time jobs, or even look into attending a lower-cost school, such as a community college.
When other forms of financial aid aren’t enough, federal student loans and private student loans can help cover additional expenses. Federal loans are almost always the best starting point since they come with safer and more flexible repayment options.
Credible can help you find and select the right student loans for you. Simply fill out a quick form, and we’ll determine the rates you could get from multiple private lenders.
The companies in the table below are Credible’s approved partner lenders. Whether you’re the borrower or cosigner, Credible makes it easy to compare rates from multiple private student loan providers without affecting your credit score.
|Lender||Fixed Rates From (APR)||Variable Rates From (APR)|
|4.50%9 - 15.49%9||6.37%9 - 16.70%9|
Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available. Prequalified rates are not an offer of credit. | 10Ascent Disclosures | 1Citizens Bank Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 11Custom Choice Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures