If one of your students asks you to write them a recommendation letter for a scholarship, it’s a big deal! 

Some of the most popular scholarships receive thousands of applications from hopeful students every year. And only a small percentage of applicants end up winning. 

Scholarship selection committees use your recommendation letter as a way to get an outside perspective of the student. This makes their job of selecting the most deserving students a little bit easier. 

Luckily, for you and your students, there’s an easy way to get all the information you need to write a strong recommendation letter! We’ll be sharing what that is later in this blog post. And, we’ll also be looking at:

  • Why scholarship applications require a recommendation letter 
  • What information needs to go into a scholarship recommendation letter 
  • How you can help your students find more scholarships using a scholarship search tool 

Let’s get right to it! 

The Purpose of a Letter of Recommendation for Scholarship Applications

The application review process of many scholarships spans months. And, in that time, there can be a lot of nitpicking over students who, oftentimes, start to look fairly similar on paper.

Your recommendation letter helps your student by: 

  • Giving the selection committee a more holistic understanding of the student’s unique academic strengths and potential to succeed
  • Providing an objective perspective on how the student demonstrates qualities the scholarship foundation wants to be represented in its scholars 

BUT your recommendation letter can only do those things if it includes all of the information scholarship selection committees are looking for. 

What to Include in Your Scholarship Recommendation Letter

Your experience with each student that asks you for a recommendation is likely unique. And you’ll want to make sure each letter sounds authentic and not like a copy and paste template. 

But, even still, the best recommendation letters follow a similar format: 

  • An introduction that identifies who you are, your relationship to the student, and how long you’ve known them
  • Your general observations and thoughts about the student’s academic strengths, personal qualities, and readiness for college 
  • Specific examples that support those observations and thoughts
  • A summary that includes why you think this student is a good fit for this particular scholarship 
  • A closing that says you’re open to being contacted for more information if needed 

How to Get All the Info You Need to Write a Strong Scholarship Recommendation Letter  

Writing a strong recommendation letter for some of your students might come easy. Maybe you’ve known these students for several years, coached them outside of class for extracurriculars, or been their teacher for more than one subject. 

But what about the students who you don’t know so well? And what about when you have to write multiple recommendation letters for students applying to scholarships with upcoming deadlines? What do you do then? 

You ask your students! But, don’t worry, no one’s expecting you to sit down with each student. You don’t have time for that. 

Instead, you’re going to get your students to do the work. How? By getting them to create and send you a document that has the following information: 

  • The student’s name, grade, test scores, and GPA   
  • The name of the scholarship, eligibility criteria, and the website where you can find more information
  • The deadline for your recommendation letter and information on how you submit it
  • 3-4 sentences about why they think they’re a good fit for the scholarship
  • 2-3 of their greatest academic achievements in or outside of school 
  • 2-3 extracurricular achievements they’re proud of from in or outside of school activities 
  • A brief summary (200 words max) of what they wrote about in their scholarship application essay (if applicable) so that you don’t repeat information or stories they’ve already covered in detail
  • What classes they have taken with you, a brief description of a lesson or activity they enjoyed in your class, and why they specifically chose you to write a recommendation 

This may seem like a lot of information. And you probably won’t need all of it. But, believe us, you’ll be happy you asked for it when it comes time for you to sit down and write! 

And if you think your students will be intimidated by that list, consider copying it onto a nice-looking Word Doc first. Or use something like the Common App’s brag sheet that serves the same purpose. 

Sample Letter of Recommendation for a Scholarship 

Let’s look now at an example of what a strong recommendation letter looks like. 

To whom it may concern: 

I’m delighted to recommend Louis D. for the ABC scholarship. I have been Louis’s English teacher and debate team coach at A.W. High School for the past three years and know that he is exactly the kind of student your foundation hopes to reward. 

Throughout my career, I’ve met very few students that are as inquisitive and engaged with the local community as Louis. In my English class, he regularly leads class discussions and writes in a way most students only grasp once they’ve spent several years in college. I can say without a doubt that he is in the top 10% of students I’ve had the pleasure to work with during my 15 years as a teacher. 

Louis is also the debate team captain and makes my job as the coach incredibly easy as he’s always going out of his way to help new members improve. For example, in preparation for a recent debate tournament, he spent several hours working one-on-one with one student who was new to the team and still struggling with stage fright. Although Louis didn’t do as well as he would have liked to in that tournament, he still took immense pride in seeing how much his teammate improved in just a short time. 

This willingness to help others is also reflected in Louis’s community service work — something I know the ABC scholarship foundation greatly values. Outside of school, Louis is actively involved in tutoring ESL learners at a local community center. Although I’m not present at the center, it’s easy for me to imagine how lucky those students must feel to have a tutor like Louis. His work ethic and dedication to helping people improve are impeccable.  

I have full confidence that Louis will continue to do great things next year when he begins college at Rice University. I also am confident that the ABC Scholarship Foundation would be hard-pressed to find another student as deserving and representative of your mission to support the future community leaders of America.

It is for these reasons I’ve had zero hesitation to write this recommendation for Louis. 

Please feel free to contact me at ###-###-#### or samgreen@awhs.com if you have any questions. I’d be more than happy to provide more information on why Louis is a deserving candidate for the ABC scholarship. 


Sam Green 

Want to Help Your Students Find More Scholarships? 

As an educator, you want to see your students succeed. We hope you can use the tips we shared here to write strong recommendation letters for the scholarships that will help lower their costs for college.

And, if you want to go the extra mile, make sure they’re not just applying to one or two scholarships. Encourage them to find all of the scholarships they qualify for! 

To easily find them, they can download Scholly, the #1 scholarship app in the world that instantly matches students with hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in scholarships based on their interests, accomplishments, and traits!

You can also share information from the rest of our blog where we provide in-depth guides and articles on how students can find ways to pay for college, write amazing scholarship essays and personal statements, and win a variety of scholarships like the National Merit Scholarship.