Getting Started

What is a National Scholarship?

The scholarships and fellowships advised by ONSA are different than most of the "merit" or financial aid scholarships that support undergraduate education. Broadly speaking, these prestigious awards are funded by external sources such as government agencies or non-profit organizations to support specific endeavors or missions. The application processes for these awards, regardless of the outcome, are often transformative experiences and can springboard a student’s personal and professional goals.

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.

Nominations & Campus Deadlines

Many scholarships require applicants to receive the endorsement or nomination of the university before applying. If an institutional endorsement is necessary, then the applicant will follow a set of campus application procedures before submitting the final application.

For awards requiring university endorsement, 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.  

Direct Applications

Many scholarships and fellowships accept applications directly from students and do not require official endorsement or nomination.  Students are still encouraged, however, to work with the ONSA staff to prepare their application materials. For more information on basic fellowship processes, consult our FAQ page.

ONSA Resources

ONSA serves all ASU students - both undergraduate and graduate - from all five 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

For general cover letter or resume help, please contact Career Services and consult their writing resources at

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 45-minute 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 at

How can I make myself competitive?

Sadly, 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 that GPA!
  • 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.
  • Seek out real-world experiences and leadership roles.
  • Get your voice heard! Write articles, submit stories, give talks, present at conferences.
  • Engage with your local or global community.
  • 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!