Frequently Asked Questions

What is a national scholarship?
A national scholarship or fellowship is one that accepts applications from students across the United States. Typically, the term “scholarship” refers to undergraduate awards and “fellowship” refers to graduate awards. Some awards will fund your UConn education, others may fund educational opportunities at other institutions or abroad.  Some awards come from government agencies, others come from private foundations.  All are “external” awards that must be reported to the Office of Financial Aid at the institution where you intend to use the award.

When do I apply?
The deadline will depend on the scholarship to which you are applying. Please see our Scholarships page for more information on the programs.

What are the odds?
The odds vary, but most national scholarships are extremely competitive.

Will a scholarship affect my financial aid?
Most scholarships will be factored into your financial aid package, and your total award may not exceed the cost of your education. If you have no financial need, you should still consider applying for an award to gain from its prestige value, but you may not be able to collect the full monetary value of the scholarship.

How important is GPA?
GPA requirements vary by competition; always read the criteria to determine whether you are eligible. Generally, though, scholarship programs look for a GPA of 3.7 or higher. But, in all cases, scholarship programs look at much more than your GPA when reviewing your application.

What else do I need to be competitive?
Specific criteria vary by competition, so read the rules. Generally, reviewers are looking for strong academic records and rigorous academic plans, previous honors and awards, research experience, community involvement, leadership, creativity, and strong support from faculty.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?
Your recommenders should be faculty members who know you well. It is better to have a good, detailed letter from an associate professor than a generic letter from a dean or a senator. For some scholarships, letters from employers or professionals associated with public service can be useful. When you ask for letters of recommendation, be sure to describe the scholarship competition in depth and review the criteria for selection. Your recommender should be able to write a 1-2 page letter with specific examples of how you meet, if not exceed, the stated criteria.

Will there be an interview?
Many scholarships require an interview, especially those that require nomination like the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell. The Fulbright has an “on campus” interview with members of our Fulbright Committee, and some countries require an interview for semi-finalists. There are some scholarships, however, that are evaluated solely on the basis of the application materials.

Can I get help with my application for nomination?
Yes! We are here to help you through the process.

Do I need to be in Honors?
No, you do not need to be an Honors student to apply for a national award.

Some of my letter writers asked for guidance. What should I tell them?
First, tell them “thank you”! Letters of recommendation are extremely important parts of these applications, because every candidate is a great student who is doing interesting things. The best letters explain in detail, with specific examples and concrete comparisons, how and why you are the best of the best. Be prepared to provide your referees with whatever materials they need to write a detailed, thoughtful letter. Then, encourage them to visit Penn State’s online module on “Writing Recommendation Letters.” And we recommend that letter writers share their letters with us ahead of time, so that we may provide feedback on them.