Frequently Asked Questions
What is Institutional Nomination?
Some scholarships and fellowships require that you receive endorsement from your school in order to make an application. In the case of some programs, Swarthmore is only allowed to make a given number of nominations (i.e. we can only send 4 Truman applications each year). For other programs, such as the Rhodes, students still need to go through the Swarthmore process, but we may send as many applications as we see suitable. For the Fulbright competition, current students are required to go through the Swarthmore process, but all applicants are sent on.
For most programs requiring institutional nomination, Swarthmore sets an early deadline about one month before the national deadline for that scholarship. See program descriptions for information about internal deadlines.
Are all grants based on financial need?
No. The Rhodes, Fulbright and Goldwater grants, for example, are based primarily on the quality of your application and your academic and extracurricular records. Others, such as the Beinecke do take financial need into account. Read the grant descriptions very carefully to see if you are a good fit, and consult with the Fellowships and Prizes Advisor before applying.
Is there a GPA requirement for fellowships and scholarships?
Most grants will state directly whether or not there is a minimum GPA requirement. For example the minimum GPA for the Marshall is 3.7. Goldwater requires a minimum B average for its applicants. Others, like the Fulbright, have no stated GPA requirement. Always read the eligibility and selection criteria very carefully before applying for a grant. These are available through the Fellowships and Prizes web site for grants that require institutional nominations, and are also available on the individual web sites for various grants. The Fellowships and Prizes web site provides links to many of these sites.
Who would make the best recommenders for scholarship and fellowship applications?
This differs from grant to grant, but generally speaking it is smart to get a diverse range of recommenders. This would include professors who can speak to your academic achievements; former or current employers who can speak to your professional qualities (including individuals who supervised internships); and long-time mentors who can talk about your personal development and growth. For travel and research grants such as the Fulbright and Watson, it is a good idea to choose recommenders who are expert enough to address the quality of your project idea and your ability to carry it out. For grants that fund graduate studies, it is advisable to select recommenders who can talk about your academic skills and your potential to succeed in graduate school. It is a good idea to seek advice from the Fellowships and Prizes Advisor before finalizing your recommendations.
ALWAYS give your recommenders enough time to complete and submit a letter of recommendation. We suggest that you give recommenders at least one month's notice before an application deadline.
How do I get my letters of recommendation to the foundations?
For fellowships that require internal nomination, simply give the required forms to your recommenders (either in paper form or through a web address, depending on the fellowship) and tell them to send them directly to the Swarthmore Fellowships Office in Parrish 118. Sometimes letter writers prefer to send their letters electronically over e-mail. This is fine for our internal deadlines, but please tell your recommenders that some fellowships require a signed hard-copy of the letter if you are nominated by Swarthmore. For those fellowships that require institutional nomination, we will take care of sending your application. For those that do not require institutional nomination, it is your responsibility to send the application and letters of recommendation to the foundations.
Do I have to order an official transcript for each fellowship?
Yes and no. For fellowships with an internal process, you do not have to order an official transcript for the internal deadline. We at the Fellowships office will access your transcript ourselves. However, once you are nominated by Swarthmore, you will have to request an official transcript from the Registrar's Office to go with your application.
If I apply for a grant and am turned down, can I reapply?
Generally speaking, yes, but again this varies from grant to grant. Some grants are restricted to undergraduates (such as the Beinecke, Truman, and Goldwater); some have time or age limits (such as the Rhodes, Marshall, and Mitchell); and others have very few restrictions, such as the Fulbright and Swarthmore Fellowships.