How Does One Write a Hardship Letter for Scholarships?

by Lisa Mooney
Brainstorm your thoughts on paper before drafting your letter.

The expense of higher education makes it difficult for many aspiring students to attend college. One option for reducing costs is obtaining scholarships that take into account financial need. Most programs offering these awards require you to write a hardship letter describing your circumstances. Crafting a well-written document which sincerely explains your dilemma in affording tuition can persuade those charged with distributing scholarship money to help you.

Brainstorm on a blank sheet of paper what you wish to impart to the scholarship committee. Set a timer for five minutes in which you hand-write about your financial situation, your desire to attend a specific university or college, what you hope to accomplish by obtaining higher education and how you will give back in the future. This short session of free writing will provide the notes you need to draft your letter.

Format your letter in a professional style. This requires you to place your address at the top right corner of your paper. The recipient's address should be a double space below on the left side of the document. Skip two more lines and position the date on the left side. Drop down another double space and begin your narrative with "Greetings" or "Hello."

Appeal to your readers with a brief, but vivid, description of your circumstances. Use your notes to help you create a first paragraph that pinpoints your need. Do not be melodramatic but do use active language to "show" rather than simply "tell" your story. This will help readers feel as if they know you, so they will be more interested in providing you with aid.

Document your plans for the future in your second body paragraph. Talk about what you will study, why you think it suits you and how you will use this knowledge to better yourself and others. For example, if you want to study fashion design, tell your audience how you hope to create clothing that is durable, affordable and stylish to help economically struggling individuals feel confident in job interviews.

Express your thankfulness in a humble way in your last body paragraph. Show your appreciation to those taking the time to consider you for financial assistance. Cite your knowledge and understanding of the value of the gift they help provide to those desiring to go to college.

Proofread your letter for grammatical and spelling mistakes. Read it aloud to a peer who can give you constructive feedback. Revise based on good advice you receive. Rewrite your letter neatly if it is handwritten to make sure it is legible.

About the Author

Lisa Mooney has been a professional writer for more than 18 years. She has worked with various clients including many Fortune 500 companies such as Pinkerton Inc. She has written for many publications including Woman's World, Boy's Life and Dark Horizons. Mooney holds bachelor's degrees in both English and biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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