Scholarships 101

Getting Organized

The following items are extremely helpful:

  • Folder or Binder
  • Calendar
  • Plastic sheet protectors

Keep all of your scholarship materials in one place; this will make the entire process easier, especially if you need to pull together an application on short notice. Put your letters of recommendations, application materials and unofficial transcripts in the sheet protectors and file them in your binder or folder.

A calendar is especially useful if you intend to apply for numerous scholarships. You can enter the deadlines in your calendar as well as contact information for the scholarships. Refer to the calendar to stay on track with your applications; missing the deadline by even one day will disqualify you.

Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) -
Bellevue College School Code is: 003769.

Letters of Recommendation

Most sponsors want two or three Letters of Recommendation.

Request your letters as soon as possible and keep them in sheet protectors in your Scholarship Binder. Expecting someone to produce a quality letter of recommendation for you on short notice isn't reasonable or respectful. Take care of this step early on in the scholarship process.

Who Should You Ask? » Someone who knows you well

Examples: teacher, employer, community leader, athletic coach, club coordinator, advisor, counselor, religious leader, volunteer coordinator.

(Do not ask a family member)

It is beneficial to have one academic or professional letter and one personal letter. These letters should provide examples of your strengths, interests, and personality. Keeping the letters focused on the types of scholarships you are looking for is helpful but not necessary.

How Do You Ask?

Recognize that it is a time consuming task to write a letter of recommendation. Give the letter writer at least three weeks notice and let them know you appreciate their efforts. The following are tips that are helpful when asking a potential letter writer:

  • Spend time talking with the letter writer about yourself, the scholarships you are applying for, your educational and career goals, your extracurricular activities and why this scholarship would benefit you.
  • Let them know when the letter needs to be completed
  • Ask if they would be willing to modify the letter occasionally depending upon the scholarship you are applying for.
  • Be prepared for a NO. Have a backup list of prospective letter writers.

Follow Up

Check in with your letter writer about one week before the scholarship application needs to be mailed out. After you have received the letter, promptly send a thoughtful thank you note. Your letter writer volunteered his or her time to help you; they deserve your appreciation. Keep them posted regarding your scholarship search and share your successes with them. They will be happy for you and feel rewarded for the time they spent assisting you. Stay in touch with them as you may need them to revise the letter and it is good to update your letters every year.

Essays and Personal Statements

Now to the part of the scholarship application process that produces the most anxiety - essay writing! Many people have writers block when it comes to writing about themselves. Below are some tips to help you through the process:

  • Be personal
  • Be specific
  • Outline your essay - clarify your thoughts
  • Start in the "Middle" - write the main points of your essay first and follow up with your introduction and conclusion
  • Take breaks - give yourself plenty of time, even days/weeks if possible
  • Never exceed an essay's specified word count - follow directions and only include relevant information
  • Have someone you trust proofread for you

Sponsors want to have a picture of who you are, not just that you need money. Spend some time writing your autobiographical essay. This "life story" can serve as the foundation for any and all essay questions you may be asked by sponsors. It is a great way to brainstorm and get your experiences and current direction down on paper. Bring more depth to your essay by writing about the impact life occurrences or circumstances have had on your outlook, passion for your field, dedication to education, and so on. Spending the time writing your life story will help solidify and strengthen your scholarship essays.

The Bellevue College Writing Lab offers free quarterly workshops that can help you in improving your writing skills. For additional information visit

Searching for Scholarships

Check out BC's Scholarship Website:

Fill out a profile on:
Be specific in completing your profile, they will email you scholarships that match your profile.

  • If you are studying accounting and you are woman, search "women accounting scholarships"
  • Remember to search using words specific to your situation: gender, ethnicity, race, religious affiliation, financial need or merit based, etc.
  • Contact local groups you are affiliated with and ask if they have a scholarship or sponsor program. Examples of organizations would be:
  • Service Groups (for example: Rotary, 4H, Lions Club, Masons, Cities Youth and Family Programs)
  • Religious Organizations
  • Interest Clubs (for example: MOPS, PEPS, Art Clubs, Music Clubs, Martial Arts organizations, anything you are currently affiliated with)
  • Heritage Organizations (for example: Daughters of the American Revolution, UNCF)

Application Process

The following are important tips for successfully submitting scholarship applications:

  • Make a few copies of the application so you have extras in case you make mistakes (they always seem to happen when you don't have extra copies!)
  • Give yourself plenty of time - mail applications 1 week prior to the application deadline if possible
  • Read directions CAREFULLY and always follow these directions. If in doubt, contact the sponsor to request clarification.
  • ALWAYS submit a COMPLETE application packet.
  • If you are missing any required documents in the application packet you can assume that your application will not be considered.
  • Double-check your entire packet prior to sending.
  • Make a copy of your complete application packet for your files.

When you Receive a Scholarships

Contact Ernesto Bowie in the Bellevue College Financial Aid Office at or at (425)564-2688.
He will work with you and the sponsor to ensure that the scholarship is applied appropriately to your account.

Within one week of being notified that you have received a scholarship

Send a thank you note. Take the time to send a brief, but thoughtful, thank you note to the sponsor organization. If you have specific contact information, send it directly to this person.

After 6 months - 1 year

Follow up with another thank you letter to the sponsor organization. Let them know how much you appreciate their support, how you are progressing in your academic program and how their scholarship has positively benefited your life.


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