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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 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.

Also keep them updated on the outcome of your application — after all, they’ve invested time, too, and it’s likely they’ll be happy to celebrate your wins with you.

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.

LenderFixed Rates From (APR)
Variable Rates From (APR)


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.29%+10 6.24%+10
  • Fixed APR: 4.29%+10
  • Variable APR: 6.24%+10
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $2,001* to $400,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: 0.25% to 1.00% automatic payment discount, 1% cash back graduation reward
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or DACA student enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Prequalified rates with a soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 12 on-time principal and interest payments
  • Loan servicer: Launch Servicing, LLC


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
5.99%+1 6.98%+
  • Fixed APR: 5.99%+1
  • Variable APR: 6.98%+
  • Min. credit score: 720
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $350,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15
  • Loan types: Any private or federal student loan
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay, loyalty
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states (international students can apply with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner)
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 36 months
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.07%+2,3
5.59%+2,3
  • Fixed APR: 4.07%+2,3
  • Variable APR: 5.59%+2,3
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $1,000 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 8, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, full monthly payment, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Prequalified rates with a soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After half of the scheduled repayment term has been completed
  • Loan servicer: College Ave Servicing LLC

    Learn more about cosigner release requirements. Requesting prequalified rates on Credible is free and doesn't affect your credit score. However, applying for or closing a loan will involve a hard credit pull that impacts your credit score and closing a loan will result in costs to you.



Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.43%+ 5.39%+
  • Fixed APR: 4.43%+ 11
  • Variable APR: 5.39%+ 11
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $99,999 annually ($180,000 aggregate limit)11
  • Loan terms (years): 7, 10, 1511
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, immediate repayment, interest-only repayment, flat/full repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay11
  • Eligibility: Available to borrowers in all 50 states. Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Customer service: Phone, email
  • Prequalified rates with a soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 36 months11
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services
  • Min. income: $1


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.56%+8 7.75%+8
  • Fixed APR: 4.56%+8
  • Variable APR: 7.75%+8
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $1,001 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay, reward for on-time graduation
  • Eligibility: Must be an Indiana resident or a U.S. citizen attending an eligible Indiana school
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Prequalified rates with a soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 12 months
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
5.35%+ N/A
  • Fixed APR: 5.35%+
  • Variable APR: N/A
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $1,500 up to cost of attendance less aid
  • Loan terms (years): 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferral, forbearance
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Prequalified rates with a soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 48 months
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services (AES)


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
4.50%9 - 15.49%9 6.37%9 - 16.70%9
  • Fixed APR: 4.50%9 - 15.49%9
  • Variable APR: 6.37%9 - 16.70%9
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years): 10 to 209
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee, non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Also available to non-U.S. citizen students (including DACA students) attending a school located in the U.S. who apply with a qualifying cosigner.
  • Customer service: Phone, chat
  • Prequalified rates with a soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: Borrowers can apply after graduation, 12 consecutive on-time principal and interest payments, and meeting certain credit requirements.
  • Loan servicer: Sallie Mae
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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