6. Wait for it... you won! (Or lost.)

When will you hear back?

So you've bundled up all the pieces of your scholarship application and sent them off before the deadline. (Good job on that, by the way.) So when can you expect to hear back? Probably not as soon as you'd like. It usually takes around 3 to 5 months to hear the results. So this part is going to involve a lot of waiting and checking your email.

Check your email!

Did you give the scholarship agency your school email address, but you only check your personal email account?  Make sure that the email address you gave to the agency is current and you are checking it regularly. If you applied for scholarships through your school, they will use your school email address by default.  Also make sure the scholarship agency has your current address and phone number.  You don't want to miss a call saying you won a scholarship.

You won!! That's awesome!

Accept the scholarship

This might sound obvious, but you have to tell the scholarship agency you want the money.  Every scholarship will ask for either an agreement, or an acceptance of the money.  You are agreeing to the terms of the scholarship (e.g., maintaining your GPA, continuing to volunteer, whatever they ask you to do).

Write thank you letters

You might be requested to write a thank you letter to the donor, but if they don’t ask you, do it anyway.  Be sincere in your letter, make sure the donor knows how you feel about being chosen for this money. 

Use your scholarship

Scholarship agencies will indicate what the scholarship can pay for: tuition, fees, books, personal expenses, transportation, etc. Funds are generally paid directly to the school, however make sure you know how your scholarship will be applied to your bill. 

Will the scholarship reduce my financial aid? 

  • A scholarship will never lower the amount of your financial aid grants.
  • A scholarship can potentially lower the amount of student loans you can borrow. This is because you aren't allowed to borrow more money than you need to attend school, and scholarships decrease the amount of money you need. Contact your school's financial aid office if you want to know exactly how your scholarship will affect your loans.

I always enjoy reading the thank you letters. It feels good to know that a student is grateful for the investment a donor has made in them. 
- Scholarship Donor

You lost... don't give up

Any work you put into your application can be used to make your next application better. If you don't try, it's impossible to succeed.- Scholarship Winner

Just be persistent... once you are in a scholarship mindset, you become more aware and opportunities seem to be everywhere. It gets a lot easier once you've applied for the first few. - Scholarship Winner

Students have to be persistent to win scholarships. If it didn't happen for you this year, don't give up. Even though it may not feel like it, you are way ahead of the game.

There are three things you should do if you don't win:

  1. Keep revising your essays 
  2. Ask the scholarship agencies what you can improve 
  3. Keep track of your scholarship applications and apply again

Why it's smart to re-apply next year

Even though you didn't win, you could have been considered a very strong applicant. Scholarship committees will often remember strong candidates from the year before and appreciate your tenacity. 

Here's a perspective from an actual scholarship committee member: 

"The committee agreed the scholarship would go to the student who had completed more coursework, but everyone commented that we hope the runner-up student applies again next year because he was such a great candidate." 

That runner-up student could be you!