Good for you for wanting to write a scholarship letter — or, if you’re a parent who wants your kiddo to write a letter — good job on asking him or her to write a scholarship thank you. 

Scholarships can be a saving grace — in some cases, college, trade school grad school — might be impossible without one (or two or three).

Here’s how to pen the perfect message.

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Why Write a Scholarship Thank You Letter?

Lots of companies, organizations and other entities give scholarships — and individuals do, too. You might not think that a faceless corporation would get a kick out of receiving a scholarship letter, but that’s just not true.

Let’s say you write to the board of directors and profusely thank them for your generosity, and you just might earn yourself more scholarships in the future. Maybe you find that a particular scholarship is renewable.

But it’s more than that. It’s more than just about what’s in it for you — it’s about building relationships with people and making a real human connection with someone or a group of people who has (excitedly!) proven their generosity.

When to write a scholarship thank you letter

You might think you only need to write a scholarship letter once you receive a scholarship. However, it’s a good idea to write a scholarship letter during any part of the scholarship process:

  • Immediately after you interview for a scholarship
  • After you do alumni interviews for admission to a particular college
  • Once you audition for a scholarship (music, theatre, etc.)
  • Once you’re evaluated in any way for a scholarship

In other words, anytime you actively do something to try to nab a scholarship, you need to thank someone for it. 

Here’s a quick scenario. You interview for a business scholarship at a college with a professor that you know you’ll have in class someday. You send a thank you note and the professor sends an email back. The professor remembers you from the interview and gives you the scholarship because of your stellar interview — and who knows? Maybe because of your thank you note, too.

Furthermore, let’s say a college gives you a giant merit-based scholarship. Sure, it might seem like they give those to lots of students (liberal arts colleges often give out large merit-based scholarships to bring down their tuition costs) but consider this. Maybe you send a hand-written note to the admission counselor and lo and behold, another scholarship is available later — and since you’re such a kind, caring student, they recommend you for the scholarship first.

How Should My Scholarship Letter Sound?

Your letter should take on a formal tone. The type of letter you send will convey how formal it is — a typed letter is way more formal than a hand-written card or email. It’s a good idea to err on the side of formal when you’re writing a scholarship thank you letter.

You may want to consider a formal letter once you’ve interviewed for a scholarship or when you’ve received a scholarship. On the other hand, you might want to pen a handwritten thank you note to an admission counselor for your visit to campus (this is another great thank you opportunity!).

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Steps to Write a Formal Scholarship Thank You Letter

Let’s walk through the steps so you’ll know exactly what you’ll need to do — but don’t copy the one we include below word-for-word. Add your own touch — and maybe even a little pizzazz.

Step 1: Check the name of the recipients, write the salutation and first paragraph.

Here’s what you’ll need to collect before you get started: 

  • The first and last name of the donor or organization that’s giving you a scholarship. Double-check — no, triple-check! — the spelling of any names. Quadruple check!
  • The name of the scholarship. Again, make sure you’re spelling it right.
  • The address, city, state and zip code of the scholarship donors.

Your salutation should start with “Dear” — no ifs, ands or buts. If you feel at all the desire to write “Hey” or “Whazzup” at the beginning of a scholarship letter, squish it immediately. You’re writing a formal thank you. 

Your intro doesn’t have to be boring, though most letters you’ll see start with, “I’m writing to thank you for your generous scholarship.” Bland, huh? You can get a bit more creative than that, but remember — always start with the purpose of your letter.

Step 2: Write the second paragraph.

Get a little friendly here — if you didn’t in the first paragraph. First, talk about yourself a little more. Maybe you’re into martial arts or dance. Maybe you play the bari sax in your school band — scholarship donors are real people who want to know who you are. Explain why the donor’s investment means so much to you.

Can you think of other things to add? Of course you can. Make it memorable. If you did an interview with that person, add a personal touch, such as “I really enjoyed hearing you talk about your love of Shakespeare in my interview. We recently performed Hamlet at the community little theatre and I played Ophelia.”

Step 3: Write the conclusion.

Finally, you’ll want to end with a robust thank you and a promise to honor the donor’s or donors’ investments. This is the time to make your donor feel good and laud them with phrases like, “I wouldn’t be able to continue my education without you.” 

Step 4: Add the closing and sign your name.

You’ll also need a complimentary close to sign off your letter. Use “Sincerely,” “Best wishes” or “All the best” for the closing. “Thanks a bunch,” probably doesn’t strike quite the right vibe.

Next, actually sign your letter — don’t just type your name. You’ll type your name under your signature.

Put it All Together

Now that you’ve digested all of that, let’s put all the parts together. 

[Date] — be sure to write this out like this: October 25, 2019
[Mr. or Mrs. First and Last Name of Donor or Name of Organization ] 
[Name of Scholarship] 
[City, State, Zip]

Dear [Donor Name or Organization Name],

First paragraph: Explain why you’re writing your letter.

Thanks so much for choosing me to be your [Name of scholarship] scholarship recipient. I was so excited when I got your letter in the mail!

Second paragraph: Talk a little bit about yourself and explain why the letter means so much to you.

I’m a ballet dancer and a travel enthusiast (my grandparents have taken me to 26 countries around the world). My love of travel has spurred me to learn two other languages — French and Spanish. 

I’m planning to major in English and get either a business management or a communication studies minor. I really want to be a journalist someday — and my major goal is to write for The New York Times. I plan to write for my college newspaper, but I’m not quite sure which school I’m attending yet. I’ll be sure to make a decision soon, after I wrap up a couple more college visits. 

Third paragraph:  Wrap it up and thank the person or organization again and explain that you’re going to “take good care of” the donor’s investment.

This scholarship helps me achieve my dreams of becoming a journalist and I’m so thankful to you to help make that happen. I hope one day I’ll be able to pay it forward and help another student in need.


[Sign your name here]
[Your name] 
[City, State, Zip]

Wait — What About the Envelope?

Put your letter in a #10 business envelope with a Z-fold (YouTube it if you’re not sure what that means — it means that you’ll fold your letter once and then back again). 

Write your address in the upper left-hand corner. You might be wondering if it’s okay to handwrite this part. It sure is. 

Put your recipient’s name, the name of the organization and address in the center of the envelope. Finally, put a stamp in the upper right-hand corner. Your letter shouldn’t be overly thick because it’ll just have one sheet of paper in it — so you should only need one Forever stamp.

Write the Best Possible Scholarship Letter

One question you might be wondering: How long does this thing have to be? Luckily, not long. A scholarship letter can be just three short paragraphs like the one above — but make an effort to be sincerely thankful and try your hardest to make a connection, just like you would if you were sharing a handshake and thanking the donor in person. 

You might not know your donor’s name right off the bat if the scholarship is coming from an organization. However, do your best to find the name of the person in charge, such as the CEO of the organization that’s giving you the scholarship. It’s much better to put a person’s name on the letter rather than sending it to a large corporation — you wouldn’t want your efforts to be wasted.

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