Writing the Perfect Scholarship Application Form

Only 12 percent of private college students pay the full cost of tuition. The rest use a combination of loans, grants, and scholarships. Because institutions only have a limited amount of funding to award, students must show in some way why they deserve that money.

As an organization giving scholarships, how do you create a scholarship application that best collects the information you’ll need to make a good decision? Here are some factors to consider when writing a scholarship application form.


Perhaps most important to the quality of your application is the content of the form. You’ll want to include basics, such as name and contact information. Some background on the student is also necessary, such as grades and extracurricular activities. The exact content of the form from here on will be based on what type of scholarship your organization is offering.

If your scholarship is one based on heritage or ethnicity, collecting information around that will be necessary. Sports or fine arts scholarships will need a history of performance in those activities. Many scholarship forms have questions asking students to explain their passions and future plans, which can be helpful for assessing an applicant’s depth and potential.

In addition to these, a signature or confirmation of understanding should be collected as well, with the applicant acknowledging that all the information is correct. If you’re still not sure what should be included, you can always look at a template for ideas.


Branding is important for any organization. Whether the scholarship is being given by the school, a third party, or directly from your organization, the student will want to know who to address and thank. Branding not only connects your company to your recipients, but also helps build a positive image. By putting your organization’s logo, colors, motto, or another identifying mark on the form, you can ensure your form stands out from the others. Whether you use physical paper copies or collect applications digitally with scholarship management software, your forms should have some sort of easily recognizable branding on them to identify your organization.


With many aspects of school and business taking place online now, it can be advantageous for your organization to consider putting your scholarship forms online instead of having applicants print them out and return them. Receiving applications online allows for an easy digital response, and reduces the amount of paper applications or emails you’ll receive. Hosting your scholarship forms online makes them more convenient and easily accessible to the average applicant, as well as editable. 


You need some way to manage the completed forms. One way is with a large file cabinet full of current and past forms that must remain on file while the applicant is still making use of scholarship money. An alternative method is to have all the forms hosted digitally in one place.

It’s important to keep records that relate to your applicants, the final scholarship recipients, and anything else that might be important for your organization to have on file in the future. Digital storage and management can help keep everything organized without worry about storing physical copies of your records.

While there’s no one right way to go about creating a scholarship form, it’s important that your organization covers the basics of data collection from every applicant. Look for a process that will make it easy for applications to apply, and streamline your team’s review process, so that you can quickly and confidently choose your best recipient.

Sarah Aswell

Sarah Aswell is an editor and content strategist at Submittable. She’s also a writer and stand-up comedian who gets rejected via Submittable all the time. You can read her comedy criticism at Forbes, follow her on Twitter, or learn more about her creative work on her website.