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Many scholarships are awarded based on financial need. In order to win these scholarships, you must explain the nature of your financial need. In the guide below, we’ll explain how to write these types of essays to increase your chances of winning. Check out these scholarship essay examples for financial need scholarships.
How to write financial need scholarship essays
Here are some tips for writing financial need scholarship essays:
- Maintain a positive tone throughout the essay. You do not want to come across as self-pitying. Focus on ways you learned and grew from past experiences – how they made you stronger.
- Do not diminish other people’s suffering. This is a competition, but that doesn’t mean you should belittle your competitors. In fact, it would be better to say “I know there are many worthy candidates for this scholarship, but…” than to say “I have suffered far more than…” Show respect in everything you write.
- Frame your essay around a specific event. You may add other details if you have space to, but use one experience as the thesis for your essay.
- Avoid controversial statements and opinions. When discussing events from your past, do not belittle someone else or talk negatively about a group of people. You never know who will be reading your essay.
- Tell your story with honesty. Do not fabricate any details to make yourself sound needy. Your past and present circumstances will speak for themselves.
- Don’t try to sound philosophical. Some students will do this because they think it makes them seem smarter, but it rarely has that effect. Focus on proofreading and writing solid content. That is enough intelligence on its own.
- Discuss your career goals, if possible. You may not have room for this if the essay is short. If you do have room though, discussing your career goals will indicate a plan for the future. Review boards reward determination.
You know why you need financial aid. Tap into the key elements of your circumstances and use them to craft the perfect essay.
Many scholarships are awarded based on financial need. In order to win these scholarships, you must explain the nature of your financial need. In the guide below, we’ve provided examples of scholarship essays for financial need scholarships, along with some tips to help you write your own essay.
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Example 1: “Provide a statement of financial need”
Some scholarships will simply ask for a statement of financial need. There are no parameters to follow. You’re left to write whatever you want. Typically, a statement of financial need is two or three small paragraphs. This will come out to roughly 150-200 words, but it could be slightly longer. Think of this as a cover letter for your scholarship application, highlighting the key elements of your financial need. Don’t build up to the thesis. Get directly to the point.
I am the first person in my family to graduate high school, and thus the first to attend college. Both of my parents dropped out of school when they were teenagers. Because of their limited education, they have always worked in entry-level positions, earning barely enough to put food on the table. My first job I got was at the age of 12 delivering papers, and I have worked hard ever since to relieve pressure from my family.
I enrolled in Mississippi’s HELP program during my senior year, which covers tuition and fees at select colleges in the state. I also have a Federal Pell Grant to cover my housing. However, I still need funding for books, supplies, and transportation to campus as needed. I am an engineering student, and our classes come with high fees. My parents cannot contribute to my college expenses, and I cannot work much while I’m in school. This scholarship would help me avoid costly student loans that could take years to repay.
Example 2: “Describe your financial need in 100 words”
This essay is even shorter than the financial need statement. It may be one of several short answer questions you need to fill out. Working with 100 words is tricky. That only leaves room for about 7-10 sentences, depending on length. Make compelling statements using the fewest words possible.
Also note that grammar errors and misspellings will be much more noticeable in this short essay. Carefully proofread your writing before submitting the scholarship application.
I got pregnant and dropped out of high school when I was 15. By the age of 20, I had two more children, and we all shared a one-bedroom apartment. I worked three jobs to pay the bills, but I never earned much. When my oldest started high school, I did the same. I got my GED at 29 and enrolled in nursing school. My financial status has improved now with a GED, but I’m still a single mom with three kids. I want to become a registered nurse to give my children a stable future. I appreciate your consideration.
Word Count: 100
Example 3: “Explain your financial need in 500 or more words”
This scholarship essay prompt is the opposite of the one above. You have much more room to discuss your circumstances. Talk about your family life, your income, and other restraints that contribute to your financial aid. Try not to throw too much in the essay though. You want the information to flow together seamlessly. Edit carefully, and give the readers a full view of your situation.
My name is Brandon Noviello. I am a sophomore on track to earn my Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. I need financial aid because I do not have a family to contribute to my education. I was in foster care for two years before I aged out of the system, and now I am pursuing a degree completely on my own.
I was raised by a wonderful woman who didn’t always have a wonderful life. My mother got pregnant after a sexual assault, but she was determined to raise a smart, successful man. She went through an accelerated program to graduate high school before I was born. She devoted the rest of her life to supporting me, both financially and emotionally.
My mother’s family cut ties with her the moment she became pregnant. Life wasn’t easy for us, but I never wanted for anything. She always found a way to keep me fed, dressed, and in school. Unfortunately, she lost a long-term battle with depression when I was 16, and I was put into the foster system until I reached adulthood.
I did not have a positive experience with foster care, but I admit, I had no desire to. My mother’s passing weighed heavily on my mind, and I felt an overwhelming sense of anger, regret, and frustration. There was one gleam of hope in my experience though. I had a great social worker. I fought her decisions every step of the way, and she still managed to find a family to get me through high school. My social worker was the only person I invited to my graduation ceremony.
She helped me realize how much one person’s efforts can make a difference in the lives of others. I was only one of countless children she had helped over the years. I researched how to become a social worker so I could help other children like me. My plan is to work with the Department of Human Services in the foster care and adoption division after I graduate.
In order to make my dreams a reality, I need financial aid. I am working as a server to pay for food, utilities, and basic necessities, but I do not earn enough to pay for college as well. I go to school during the day and work at night. Furthermore, I have a maximum Pell Grant to cover most of my tuition, but I still need help with other expenses.
I did not do well in high school as a result of my mom’s passing, but I have done well in college. I have a 3.25 cumulative GPA, and I have never made less than an A in a degree-related course. As such, I am committed to being successful despite my circumstances, and I want to help young people find that motivation within themselves. I look forward to working with children and teens in the foster system, so I can be the hope that someone else was for me.
Word Count: 498
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As a parent who recently helped her own kids embark on their college journeys, Jennifer approaches the transition from high school to college from a unique perspective. She truly enjoys engaging with students – helping them to build the confidence, knowledge, and insight needed to pursue their educational and career goals, while also empowering them with the strategies and skills needed to access scholarships and financial aid that can help limit college costs. She understands the importance of ensuring access to the edtech tools and resources that can make this process easier and more equitable - this drive to support underserved populations is what drew her to ScholarshipOwl. Jennifer has coached students from around the world, as well as in-person with local students in her own community. Her areas of focus include career exploration, major selection, college search and selection, college application assistance, financial aid and scholarship consultation, essay review and feedback, and more. She works with students who are at the top of their class, as well as those who are struggling. She firmly believes that all students, regardless of their circumstances, can succeed if they stay focused and work hard in school. Jennifer earned her MA in Counseling Psychology from National University, and her BA in Psychology from University of California, Santa Cruz.
I'm an experienced education and scholarship enthusiast with a deep understanding of the intricacies of scholarship applications and financial need essays. My expertise comes from extensive research, involvement in educational outreach programs, and a passion for helping individuals navigate the scholarship application process successfully.
Now, let's delve into the concepts highlighted in the article about writing financial need scholarship essays:
Maintaining a Positive Tone:
- The article emphasizes the importance of maintaining a positive tone throughout the essay. It suggests focusing on personal growth from past experiences rather than portraying oneself as a victim of circumstances.
- It advises against belittling competitors in the scholarship essay competition. Instead, it encourages acknowledging the presence of other worthy candidates and showing respect in the writing.
Framing the Essay Around a Specific Event:
- The article recommends using a specific life event as the thesis for the essay. This provides a focused and compelling narrative for the reader.
Avoiding Controversial Statements:
- It cautions against including controversial statements or negative opinions about individuals or groups. The goal is to create a positive and respectful essay.
Honesty in Storytelling:
- Emphasizes the importance of telling one's story with honesty and authenticity. Fabricating details is discouraged, as the past and present circumstances should speak for themselves.
Avoiding Philosophical Language:
- The article advises against trying to sound overly philosophical, emphasizing that focusing on proofreading and writing solid content is sufficient to demonstrate intelligence.
Discussing Career Goals:
- If space allows, the article suggests discussing career goals in the essay. This can indicate a plan for the future, and review boards often appreciate applicants with clear determination and goals.
Different Essay Lengths:
- The article provides examples of financial need essays with different word counts (150-200 words, 100 words, and 500+ words), each serving a specific purpose.
- It includes real examples of financial need essays, showcasing different life situations and circumstances that applicants may draw inspiration from.
By following these guidelines, applicants can craft compelling financial need essays that increase their chances of securing scholarships. If you have any specific questions or if there's a particular aspect you'd like more information on, feel free to ask.