How To Write A Reference Letter For A Scholarship

How To Write A Reference Letter For A Scholarship

A reference letter for a scholarship is a document that a trusted teacher, adviser, or mentor writes to verify the value of an individual applying for a scholarship. While the exact content of these letters may vary depending on the type of scholarship, they emphasize the qualities and skills that match the scholarship criteria.

Reference letters help deserving students win the scholarships they need to pay for college. Not sure how to write a letter of recommendation? Don’t worry! This article covers everything you need to know about how to write  reference letter for a scholarship.

How to Write a Reference Letter for a Scholarship

Here are some steps that you can follow to write a scholarship recommendation letter for a student:

1. Review the scholarship requirements

A candidate’s type may vary depending on the scholarship. Scholarly achievement and rigor, for instance, might be highly valued in the context of an academic or merit scholarship. A mentor writing a recommendation letter for this kind of scholarship might highlight the applicant’s academic accomplishments and provide particular instances that demonstrate their commitment to their academic goals. The athletic ability and team spirit of the applicant, on the other hand, might be of greater interest to the review committee for an athletic scholarship.

2. Begin with an introductory paragraph

Beginning your letter with an introductory paragraph can be a useful way to establish your intent and provide the review committee with any relevant context that they may need to understand your letter. In this paragraph, you can introduce the student, the scholarship, and your relationship with the student. If you know the student through an educational institution, you can also name that institution and provide a few more details about your history there. For example, you could explain that you’re a teacher and have been teaching 10th-grade math for six years at a particular school.

You may also include more introductory information about the candidate in this paragraph, including their academic background or a brief description of the traits that may make them a good candidate for the scholarship. It can also be helpful to use enthusiastic language that expresses the pleasure with which you recommend this student. This may help create a sense of honest excitement, which may positively affect the enthusiasm of the review committee.

3. Describe the candidate in the context of the scholarship

Following your introduction, you can talk about the candidate’s qualifications for the scholarship and why you believe they would be a good fit. This is a crucial step because it can show the scholarship committee that you are aware of the kind of applicant they are seeking and that you have given careful thought to why the student for whom you are writing might meet their requirements. Giving specific examples of accomplishments or situations to back up your recommendation could be beneficial. A strong approach to show that a candidate can carry out their beliefs and ideals is to highlight their prior successes.

4. Describe other achievements, qualities, or skills

There may be other achievements, qualities, or skills that you consider important to the committee’s understanding of this candidate. After discussing those that are part of the scholarship criteria, you may open your discussion to include these other positive attributes. One area of achievement that you may include is facts, such as grade point averages, awards, or sporting statistics. If you can connect these to the scholarship criteria, that may also be beneficial.

You can also talk about the personal qualities that you may have noticed in the student based on your time as their teacher, or through whatever relationship you’ve had with them. These can be helpful to include because they may give the reviewing committee a better sense of the type of individual that the candidate is and why that individual may be particularly deserving of the scholarship.

5. End with a conclusion

In your conclusion, you can restate your support of the candidate and briefly recap the reasons the committee should consider them for the scholarship. You may then invite the committee members to reach out to you if they would like to discuss the matter further. In some cases, particularly when there’s a question about the candidate or a high level of competition, it can be helpful for the committee to know that you’re willing to act as a resource to support the candidate.

6. Proofread carefully

Once your letter is finished, you can carefully go over it to find any errors in spelling, grammar, or readability. It’s useful to keep in mind that you represent your student to the review committee as the person the student chooses to recommend them. This implies that the committee’s assessment of the candidate could be influenced by the caliber of your letter. This is why it’s imperative to produce a final draft that is meticulously polished.

Another option is to have a friend or coworker proofread your writing. This is beneficial because sometimes it’s simpler for someone else to spot minor spelling or grammar mistakes. They might also comment on how well-written your letter was and point out any places that need work. If this is your first time writing a recommendation letter for a scholarship, it can be especially useful. If you decide to enlist the help of a friend or coworker, think about keeping the candidate’s identity a secret for the time being to respect their privacy.

7. Deliver on time

Some teachers have numerous students for which they write recommendation letters. It can be helpful to maintain a calendar or schedule to ensure that you know which due dates fall on which days and the method by which they expect you to turn in your recommendation. Following these instructions and meeting these deadlines can help ensure that the review committee considers your letter alongside the candidate’s other application materials.

Tips for Writing a Scholarship Reference Letter

A student will begin scholarship applications either because they are in financial need or want to lessen the amount they pay for post-secondary education. In a higher education setting, it is more common than not that a student will ask for a letter of recommendation for a college scholarship. Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing a scholarship recommendation letter.

  • Be sure you know the student well enough to write on their behalf.
  • Open with a formal salutation.
  • Tailor your letter.
  • Discuss the student’s potential, talents, and skills.
  • Give specific examples that validate your claims.
  • Include a closing that states you’re open to further questions.
  • Give yourself enough time to write the recommendation letter.
  • Review the letter several times
  • Know when to say “no” if you’re not comfortable providing a letter of recommendation.

Example recommendation letter for a scholarship

Here is an example of a recommendation letter for a scholarship which you may reference for guidance when writing your letter:

Jean Maria
San Francisco, California
(555) 900-555

December 15, 2023

Beckford Leaders Scholarship Committee
Barnesville University
Barnesville, Colorado

Dear Scholarship Committee,

I’m writing to you with great pleasure to suggest Dawn Harris for the Beckford Leaders Scholarship. I used to teach biology to Dawn, and I have been her academic adviser for the past six months. She is an incredible young woman with a strong desire to learn and the natural ability to put ideas into practice. She seems like a model candidate for this position, in my opinion.

The Beckford Scholarship is traditionally given by Banesville University to students who exhibit outstanding academic dedication along with a strong commitment to leadership in their communities. Dawn has exhibited both traits. As team captain for the past three years, Dawn has guided the school’s debating team to victory on campus.

While many students may have rejoiced, Dean chose to concentrate on the lack of diversity she observed during her first year at the competition. She went on to found Students for Change, an organization that aimed to promote diversity initiatives in specialized sports and extracurricular activities throughout the Banesville School district.

Dawn is a diligent learner who has consistently maintained an A grade average. In my role as her teacher, I saw that she had a special talent for organizing her classmates before big assignments or tests, motivating them to assist and encourage one another. As her current adviser, I get to witness this same inclination toward encouragement, teamwork, and camaraderie outside of my classroom. She has accomplished a great deal in the brief time she has been a part of the Barnesville community because of these attributes.

As a result, it gives me great pleasure to endorse and support Dawn Harris as a deserving recipient of the Beckford Leaders Scholarship. She is an exceptionally driven and proficient leader and learner, and I firmly believe that she is well deserving of this recognition. She intends to utilize the scholarship to further her academic career with a commitment to quality and diligence. Should you have any additional inquiries, kindly reach out to me via phone or email.

Jean Maria


It takes skill to write a stellar reference letter for a scholarship that incorporates personalization, research, and an honest presentation of your credentials and goals. Your recommendation letter serves as your voice and your opportunity to persuade the scholarship committee that you are the most worthy applicant.

Don’t forget to show off your relevance, customize your letter to the particular scholarship, and write in an engaging yet professional manner. Your reference letter can make a lasting impression and lead to your candidate’s educational opportunities with commitment, thoughtful preparation, and attention to detail.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you write a reference letter for a student?

Keep it concise. Summarize in one sentence how you know the student, identify their strengths, and provide 1-2 examples or stories. Use concrete examples, not generalizations. Tell stories that illustrate the student’s character.

2. How do you end a reference letter?

The closing of the letter should briefly summarize previous points and clearly state that you recommend the candidate for employment (or graduate school, etc.). Finally, you want to give them your contact information in case they want to contact you directly.

3. What not to say in a reference letter?

Clichés such as quick learners, organized, team player, creative, passionate, and dedicated. These descriptors are so overused they have become meaningless. Rather than use one of them to describe your candidate, write a quick story that illustrates that word.
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