Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grant Opportunities

As you think ahead to what you hope to do after graduating from college, competitive fellowships and scholarships can be a vital resource to help you achieve your goals. In some cases, these fellowships and scholarships can help you pay for your undergraduate education or for graduate school. In other cases, they offer unique opportunities to conduct research, work in different parts of the world, or follow a passion.

The fellowships and scholarships included in this brochure are major sources of funding for both undergraduate and graduate students. Many are merit- based with special attention to financial need. Below are some guidelines to consider as you embark on exploring these opportunities.

The Nomination Process

Many competitive scholarships require that candidates be nominated or endorsed by Sarah Lawrence in order to apply. In some cases, the college is limited in the number of candidates it may nominate. In order to select candidates for nomination, we require early submission of the completed application so that we can review it in its entirety. The internal deadlines connected to each scholarship are the dates by which applicants must provide the pertinent campus liaison with all relevant materials (essays, transcripts and letters of reference). In some cases, an interview will be required. Once all materials have been reviewed, candidates are notified whether or not they have been nominated. Nominees will then work to finalize their applications for submission by the external deadline, often with the campus liaison.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are a significant part of a candidate’s application and should be considered thoughtfully. Competitive scholarship committees rely on letters of recommendation to provide a fuller picture of the candidate as well as help make final decisions on awards. It is important to ask individuals who can write in full support of your application and goals. It is never too early to think about developing a list of strong references and candidates should keep in mind that references should be given ample time to write and submit their letters.

Some General Tips

  • Plan ahead. While it may be hard to imagine what you plan to do after graduation, many competitive fellowships and scholarships need to be applied for in the junior or senior year. It isn’t too early to seek out information in your sophomore year.
  • Find the scholarship or grant that best fits your needs. For the best information, consult the scholarship’s website to learn more about its criteria and eligibility requirements. If you meet those requirements, don’t be afraid to apply even if it is highly competitive.
  • Contact the appropriate liaisons—either faculty or administrators at Sarah Lawrence—for more information about the internal process for completing the application.
  • Lay the foundation for your application. Contact faculty and other references for letters of recommendation well in advance of the internal deadline. Choose appropriate recommenders (generally faculty who have taught you and know you well), who can tailor your recommendation to the award (no generic letters). Provide your recommenders with an updated resume, drafts of your fellowship essay(s), and general information on the award.
  • Be prepared to devote significant time to the application process which typically includes a personal essay or a project proposal—sometimes both.
  • Oftentimes, a student needs to be nominated for a scholarship. Don’t let this discourage you. Express your interest in a scholarship for which you think you qualify.
  • Remember what is out of your control: foundation/agency/country politics and preferences; mandates to funding agencies regarding diversity (applicants, institutions); subjectivity of national/campus committee readers; and a large, highly-qualified applicant pool.
  • Carefully fill out the application. According to the Association of Fund Raising Council, more than 80% of the grant applications that went to the 23,000 foundations in the United States were misdirected or filled out improperly.