How To Write A Recommendation Letter For College Scholarships?

Learn how to write an impactful recommendation letter for college scholarships, top tips for recommenders, the standard format, and more.

Updated by TCM Staff on 21st October 2020

Scholarships shelter the interests of every student, irrespective of caste, creed, or economic status. Contrary to the belief that attaining a scholarship is synonymous with a walk in the park, it is, in fact, quite a tasking affair. 

To write a strong college scholarship recommendation letter, you must include a good start, mention the skills, potentials, and strength of the students to demonstrate his/her capabilities which is the primary purpose of the letter.

A strong recommendation letter can boost the likelihood of receiving financial assistance. It essentially requires an appealing testimony of the applicant’s achievements, stand-out interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, and the certification of his/her character and ethics. 

Clubbed with interviews, demand for multiple legal/financial documents, and one (or more) recommendation letter(s) for the scholarship, the candidate must invest adequate time, plan, and be patient while applying for the college scholarships

The prime necessity of recommendation letters for college scholarships is to pluck out the deserving candidates. For the current year, an approximation of 6,600 students has been accepted at Harvard University. However, only 55 percent of the population has received scholarships (on myriad grounds). 

How to write a winning recommendation letter?

Recommendation letters can come from a subject faculty, school advisor, or anyone from school (holding position). The letter of recommendation should function in a way that piques the interest of the scholarship committee (of the applied schools). It must be a genuine narrative of the student’s character, academic and extracurricular achievements, commemoratory skills, work ethics, and the potentiality for growth. Additionally, the author must incorporate his/her engagement with the candidate in the content.

The primary objective of the letter of recommendation is to certify the student’s credibilities. It is an instrument to help him/her stand out in the crowd, and earn the scholarship. A strong recommendation letter for the scholarship includes,

  • Overview

    A brief narrative of the recommender’s engagement with the candidate, detailing the dynamics of their relationship, the estimated tenure, and shared experiences 

  • Academics, and extracurriculars

    Certificatory remarks on the candidate’s academic, and extracurricular achievements. A timeline of the accolades serves as a bonus

  • Stand-out skills

    A detailed note on the student’s interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills. This may include his/her proclivity to strive, strong work ethics, top-notch leadership attributes, or exemplary character values

  • Potential, and growth

    This includes a memorandum on the applicant’s up-ward curve of growth 

  • Evidence 

    Tangible evidence of all the mentioned declarations 

  • Contact details

    Contact information of the recommender for a follow-up, or any necessary background check

A genuine, detailed, and appealing letter of recommendation helps a long way in improving the odds of receiving the applied scholarships. The catch is to approach the right recommender, who would refuge your interests while writing the recommendation letter.

7 Tips For Writing A Strong Letter Of Recommendation 

If you have considered college scholarships as an easy episode, you are mistaken. It can be exhausting, and quite competitive. The process of selection is almost semantic to that of college admissions. The jury has to decide from an ocean of scholarship applications. With scholarship interviews and multiple screening processes, the deserving candidates are awarded the applied scholarships. 

A strong letter of recommendation can be instrumental in harnessing your claims on college scholarships. You need to offer content that illuminates your value, stimulates the jury’s interest, and adds to your appeal. We have enlisted the top 7 hacks of writing a strong, impactful recommendation letter for your college scholarship.

  • The letter must be comprehensive, crisp, and not too wordy. 

  • Highlight the stand-out skills of the candidate. An individual might have a multitude of attributes. However, for a letter of recommendation, only the most commemorated skills are to be embodied in the body of the letter

  • Proof-read to eliminate all/any shortcomings. You may approach someone else to proof-read your letter for an unbiased evaluation. 

  • The recommendation letter must behave as a vote of confidence. The recommender must have a holistic comprehension of the student in order to cite genuine remarks

  • Usage of impactful language further amplifies the worth of the student. 

  • Refrain from offering stolen material ( copied letter).

  • The use of generic, cliched content is a major ‘turn off’ for the jury


Is there a standard format for recommendation letters for college scholarships?

There is no evidence of an established ‘standard’ format (to adhere to) while penning the letter of recommendation. However, a typical template is obeyed by most recommenders. In a nutshell, this format conventionally constitutes salutary addressing at the beginning, the body, closing remarks followed by the author’s contact information. The recommender can improvise the content, however, the anatomy of the letter should more or less comply with the format.

The letter must be comprehensive, crisp, and evoke a sense of professionalism. Improvisation of the body must procure unique, appealing content that helps distinguish the student from the rest.

Here is a proven format of a strong letter of recommendation for college scholarships - 

  • Head of the letter - date, addresser and addressee information, subject

  • Salutary addressing to the addressee (director of the scholarship, head of the scholarship committee). A personal salutation is not necessary for general letters (governing body, panel, jury)

  • Body of the letter

    • Statement of recommendation, and an introductory narrative describing the relationship between the recommender and the student, its dynamics, and tenure.

    • Testimony of the various attributes (academic and extracurricular) of the recommendee, including a character certification 

  • Closure - This section recapitulates the highlights of the letter. An appeal for consideration may be consolidated. Additional information on the grounds of recommendation (of the recommendee) may be incorporated. This further augments the endorsement

  • Attestation (through the recommender’s signature), followed by his/her contact information

What is a good sample letter of recommendation for scholarships?

As stated, the anatomy of the letter must coincide with the format. The body, however, may undergo several rounds of improvisation as suited to the candidate. The idea is to draw out the best qualities of the student, and add remarks to amplify his/her value. Professionalism must be maintained, and the letter is required to be as comprehensive as possible. The letter must include the sender’s accurate address, recipient’s details, salutation, body, closing remarks, and attestation by the recommender. 

Here is a sample letter of recommendation for college scholarships. It is highly recommended to alter the body as suited to the scholarship applicant. 

sample recommendation letter for college scholarships

Tip - Save the sample letter/format in PDF format on your computer.

Concluding thoughts

A college scholarship recommendation letter can be metaphorically deemed as an ‘armor’. It is instrumental in ‘your safety’ while applying for college scholarships. The stronger the recommendation letter, the higher are the odds of securing the scholarship. The main objective of the recommender should be to uplift the student’s value and demonstrate the perks of awarding him/her the scholarship. Along with the applicant’s attributes, it is highly recommended to offer a glance into his/her plans for the future. The bottom line is, market the student’s credibility in order for him/her to stand out.


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