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Getting started

What is a "National Scholarship?"

The scholarships and fellowships for which ONSA provides advising are different than the merit or need-based scholarships and grants that provide tuition support. Broadly speaking, these prestigious awards are funded by external sources such as government agencies or non-profit organizations to support specific missions. Therefore, determining which scholarship to apply for often depends on how closely your own intellectual and professional goals align with the mission of the funding organization. For example, the Goldwater Scholarship is the premier award in the US for high-achieving undergraduate STEM majors who intend to pursue research careers, while the Truman Scholarship supports exceptional undergraduate leaders who intend to pursue careers in government or public service.

As the application processes for these awards is typically lengthy and involved, often requiring deep introspection and deep contemplation, the processes themselves are transformative experiences and can springboard a student’s personal and professional goals, regardless of outcome.

ONSA resources

ONSA serves all ASU students - both undergraduate and graduate - from all ASU campuses, as well as ASU alumni. If you are applying to a national scholarship found on our database, ONSA can provide:

  • General guidance on application processes
  • Writing consultation and feedback for application essays
  • Access to alumni networks
  • Informational sessions and writing workshops
  • Financial support for travel to selection interviews
  • Pre-departure support and resources

Students and alumni who would like to begin the process of exploring options for national scholarships and fellowships should first attend or view an information session (or archived on our YouTube page). You should also review available options in our Scholarship Database.

Your first appointment

Once you have attended an Info Session and reviewed the Scholarship Database, you are welcome to schedule an appointment with an ONSA advisor to begin the process of exploring national scholarship options that support your goals.

Before you do, you should complete an ONSA Intake Worksheet. You may then schedule an intake meeting with an ONSA advisor via our online appointment scheduling system.

Nominations and campus deadlines

National Scholarships fall into two basic categories: “nominated” awards that have a preliminary application process and “open” awards to which students may directly apply. These categories are clearly indicated in the Scholarship Database.

If an institutional endorsement is necessary, then the applicant will follow a set of campus application procedures before submitting the final application. For these awards, ONSA establishes a campus deadline in advance of the final submission deadline to allow time for application review and committee interviews. The campus deadline will occur weeks or even months prior to the national deadlines posted online, so it is important to take note of both dates. Students must meet the campus deadline to be considered for endorsement.  The campus deadlines for the most common awards are listed on the Apply page.

Ways to find your fellowship

Students are encouraged to conduct their own searches for fellowships, as the process itself can help shape future goals.  We provide numerous resources to help with this process:

  • Browse our Scholarship Database and find programs that align with your academic and professional goals. Read through the descriptions carefully and check your eligibility.
  • Attend an ONSA information session – these presentations provide an overview of our major programs and office resources. See our schedule.
  • Subscribe to our ONSA Bulletin – this weekly newsletter contains information on new scholarships and upcoming deadlines.
  • Once you find your fellowship program(s), schedule an in-person appointment with an ONSA advisor via our online scheduling system.

How can I make myself competitive?

Unfortunately, there is no simple formula for winning a national scholarship; however, whether you end up applying to a national award, graduate school, or a job, there are a few ways to set yourself up for success:

  • Grades aren’t everything, but they do help. Maintain the best GPA you can without sacrificing your personal interests and wellbeing!
  • Foster relationships with faculty and supervisors – they can be your biggest supporters.
  • Be purposeful in your extracurricular activities. Research, clubs, internships, and volunteer activities should align with your interests and/or professional goals. Don't follow the crowd!
  • Seek out real-world experiences and leadership roles - look for ways to make social impact.
  • Get your voice heard! Write articles, submit stories, give talks, present at conferences.
  • Engage with your local or global community. Learn a foreign language. Pursue opportunities for study abroad. Stay abreast of world events.
  • Take a stand – most fellowships seek applicants who are focused on a specific issue or problem. Figure out how you can save the world and get started now!