The Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships (ONSF) advises and mentors students applying for nationally competitive external awards that are typically funded by government agencies or private foundations and trusts. In other words, ONSF itself does not award scholarship money, but serves as a resource for students entering these prestigious competitions. ONSF serves students (undergraduate and graduate) from all campuses at the University of Connecticut – you do not need to be an Honors student to apply for national scholarships.
Each competitive scholarship has its own rules, guidelines, and deadlines for submitting applications. Always READ and refer to the official rules when preparing your materials. Some scholarships require that students obtain “nomination” or “endorsement” from their universities before they are permitted to submit a nationally competitive application. In these cases, ONSF serves as the administrator for the nomination process at UConn.
Competitions that Require Nomination
In these cases, students should refer not only to the official deadline of a scholarship, but also to the UConn deadline for nomination posted on the ONSF website. The UConn deadline may be 3-6 months before the national deadline. ONSF publicizes internal deadlines across the University community: on University calendars; through outreach to various schools, colleges, departments, faculty, students and staff; on the Daily Digest; on flyers; and in other locations and formats. It is the responsibility of candidates to be aware, plan ahead, and meet this first deadline in order to be considered for nomination.
UConn applications for nomination consist of portion of the larger national application. See our National Scholarships that Require Nomination page for descriptions and more information about each scholarship. In some cases, the committee will require an interview prior to nomination in competitions that feature interviews at the national level. Candidates who are nominated complete the national application under the guidance ONSF staff.
NB: All nominations are contingent upon completion of a satisfactory national application by the official deadline for that competition. Students who fail to maintain strong academic records, who fail to secure recommendations or other supplementary materials, who misrepresent themselves on their applications, or violate the University Code of Conduct or state/federal law risk losing their nomination.
If a nominee is named a finalist in a competition that requires an interview, ONSF will work to prepare that individual by arranging mock interview panels and providing sample questions and advice.
Nominees represent the University of Connecticut and are selected with care. If a student is nominated by a UConn faculty committee, he or she will be honored at the annual ONS&F Celebration of Excellence in April, regardless of the outcome of the national competition, in recognition of this achievement.
ONSF’s Commitment to Mitigating Bias in Campus Nomination Processes
ONSF recognizes that unconscious, or implicit biases can shape decision making and evaluations in both individual and group settings. Research shows that the following may reduce the impact of such biases: recognizing that they exist; having clearly agreed-upon selection criteria and keeping such criteria at the forefront of all stages of the evaluation process; using evaluative rubrics; encouraging ongoing conversations about program criteria in order to explore how existing criteria may impact decision making.
We are committed to implementing these bias mitigation strategies across ONSF’s programs and processes, as we as engaging in ongoing assessment of access and inclusion, to ensure the ONSF is open to all UConn students.
Fulbright & NSEP Boren
Two competitions, the Fulbright U.S. Student Programs and the National Security Education Program (NSEP) Boren Scholarship require that candidates have their applications reviewed by a campus committee before they proceed to the national review phase. The campus review also enables students to strengthen their applications before they are officially submitted. LuAnn Saunders-Kanabay, Assistant Director of ONSF and UConn’s Fulbright Program Advisor, oversees the campus review process for both the Fulbright and Boren competitions. Students are advised to meet with Ms. Saunders-Kanabay before they begin their applications.
Scholarships that Do Not Require Nomination
Start early! Even if you do not need endorsement from ONSF, you are strongly encouraged to consult with us or a faculty advisor on your application materials. These are competitive awards and the application process requires commitment to increase your chances of winning.
Be sure you have read the rules and the criteria for selection before you begin. Address the criteria specifically in your application materials. In all cases, there are more viable applicants than there are awards, so avoid careless errors and poorly written statements, and think about what makes you different from all the other smart, qualified candidates. Expect to significantly revise your application materials several times before you submit them (usually through an online application system).
- Review any research proposals with faculty
- Bring personal statements to ONSF or the University Writing Center for feedback
- Proofread everything
- Ask recommenders for letters EARLY in the process and follow up to be sure they submit their letters on time
- Submit your own application early to avoid technical difficulties
Do not hesitate to contact a foundation or agency directly if you have questions about the application or the award, or stop by ONSF (ROWE 419). We are happy to help.
Won Any Awards Lately?
If you are the recipient of a nationally competitive award, we want to know! Whether or not we were able to assist you in the application process, we would like to help you celebrate your success, publicize your victory to encourage other students, and chart the progress of UConn students in prestigious competitions over time.
Please send an email to ONSF to report if you have won a scholarship or fellowship or have been named a finalist or earned honorable mention.