Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to write your personal statement. It may be your best chance for making the case of why you should qualify for aid or a scholarship. It is an important document that sets you apart from other applicants. Devote enough time to making it accurately reflect who you are, demonstrate your writing ability and provide evidence of your achievements.
Get organized. Develop a logical structure for your statement. Write an outline that organizes your ideas and categories. Get input from others about what to include. Ask teachers, parents and others whom you trust for feedback. Include enough details to be thoughtful and complete, but avoid being long-winded.
Be personal and reflective. Share information about who you are. Tell the readers what you want them to understand about you. Give them information about your family and past experiences and how they have motivated you to pursue your studies. Explain how your work and academic experiences have given you knowledge about your field. Describe personal experiences that have helped you hone in on your goals.
Be authentic. Write about who you really are and what you really care about. Do not try to write what you think the readers want to hear. The application committee will know right away if you are not being honest. They read so many essays that they can distinguish the difference between genuineness and insincerity. Showcase your true desires, accomplishments and strengths.
Avoid humor and clichés. Remember that those reading the essay do not know you. They may not understand your sense of humor, so it’s best not to use it in this essay. Avoid using clichés in order to make your application essay more specific and persuasive. Instead of saying that you’re a “people person” or a “Jack of all trades,” provide specific details about yourself and your experience.
Use specific examples. Reinforce general claims about yourself with specific details. For example, if you state that you feel comfortable with people of different backgrounds, give details that explain why. Perhaps you have been an ESL tutor, or you grew up in a military family and traveled around quite a bit. Provide concrete examples of your motivation and leadership. Explain how you are going to use your education to accomplish your goals.
Give yourself time for revisions. Prepare to write several drafts of your personal statement. Get feedback from others. For example, show it to people on campus such as professors, advisors, classmates and teaching assistants. Revise it for clarity and content. Check your spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Higher education is expensive, and many financial resources require a Statement of Financial Need when identifying applicants for scholarships and aid. Of course, as pointed out by a student on the forum “answers.yahoo.com,” you can enclose the estimated financial contribution from the FAFSA application, but most scholarships and grants require personal statements as well. Requirements vary by scholarship and school, so how do you write a financial needs statement?
What Exactly is a Statement of Financial Need?
It is a short letter, usually about two or three paragraphs, that explains why you would benefit from being awarded a scholarship. This is not a debit-and-credit sheet such as the FAFSA application requires. The Statement of Financial Need should be concise and compelling.
Start With a Brief Introduction
First, list any special scholarship need groups to which you may belong. Are you the first in your family to go to college? This is the place to explain that. Are you from a disadvantaged family? Are you from an ethnic group that is under-represented at the school? In this introductory paragraph, you give the financial aid committee a picture of who you are.
Explain How You are Paying for College Now
Let them know you are not ignoring other sources of help. Tell the committee if you are working to help pay college expenses. Detail what steps you have already taken to pay for your education, such as 529 Savings Plan. This gives the scholarship committee a starting point from which to understand your financial situation.
Explain Difficulties You Are Having in Meeting Your Needs
A Statement of Financial Need should tell the committee why you are seeking aid. This is the place to talk about any changes that have occurred in your life that impact your ability to pay for your education. For instance, there may have been changes in your family’s income, unanticipated expenses or a shortfall in your finances. In this area, you can also provide information to show that you handle funds responsibly. For instance, have you already paid for a semester, or a year, by your own efforts? If you broach this issue, though, include only information about education, and not about unrelated things like car loans.
Talk About How You Would Benefit From the Scholarship
This may seem obvious, but it is important for the committee to understand that you intend to make good use of the funding. According to the financial aid page at “umass.edu,” this might include benefits like being able to concentrate on your studies by not spending so much time working. The funds might also allow you to take an unpaid internship required by your degree. In fact, the scholarship may make the difference between dropping out and finishing your studies. If that is the case, let the committee know.
Close In a Brief and Respectful Tone.
Do not beg. Avoid emotionalism. Let your tone be professional and polite.
Scholarships and financial aid are privileges, not inherent rights; the opportunities that these funds give students are invaluable. Schools and funding sources have a great responsibility in deciding to whom the awards should go. A Statement of Financial Need is one tool they use, and it is up to the student to make it as “sharp” as possible.
Related: Merit Based or Financial Need – Which Scholarship is Easier to Obtain?