Scholarships: your questions answered

Scholarships. You know if you can net one (or more) it will take the financial pressure off your uni studies. But there’s some things you’re not sure about. Never fear. We’ve rounded up the most commonly asked scholarships questions and paired them with answers. Read on.

1. How can I improve my chances of getting a scholarship?

  • Our number one tip? It’s super important that you read the scholarship eligibility criteria. While you do have to be in it to win it, if you don’t meet the criteria it’s unlikely you’ll get the scholarship. We provide more than 300 scholarships each year, so there’s plenty on offer – just make sure you go for the ones you are eligible for!
  • Treat your application as if you were applying for a job and answer each of the questions to the best of your ability. Most scholarships are competitive, meaning a lot of other people are applying, so it’s important to give well thought out responses. Check out these tips on how to ace your scholarship application.
  • If a scholarship asks for any added documentation, ensure you include it. If you’re asked to submit an essay detailing your academic achievements or community involvement, that forms part of the application. So, don’t submit an incomplete application!
  • Where appropriate, be personable and tell your story. A lot of applications fail because they are too generic and come across as ‘ticking the box’ – remember, you need to sell yourself.
  • Explain your goals and ambitions post-study. Many of our scholarships are funded by donors, who like to know that their recipients are driven and have a plan for the future.

If you are unsure about any of the questions or have any issues with your application, ask for help. Call us on 1800 275 278 to talk to one of our friendly team.

2. What types of expenses could I put the money towards?

Unless the scholarship states that the funds must be used for a specific reason – like accommodation, textbooks or work placements – the money can be put towards any identified needs. This could be textbooks, accommodation, food or whatever assists you the most in completing your studies. Your scholarship money isn’t a loan – so it doesn’t need to be repaid.

3. What does financial hardship mean?

Financial hardship could be any barrier that is preventing you from study. Like not being eligible for government assistance or being unable to pay for accommodation or equipment.

Don’t assume financial hardship doesn’t apply to you. If you’ll find it difficult to provide for yourself while studying or you’re working to support yourself and this cuts into your study time, that’s financial hardship. The secret is to tell us why it’s tough.

4. How many scholarships are there?

Charles Sturt University awards more than 300 different scholarships each year, with a total monetary value of more than $3 million.

5. Does volunteering and community involvement increase my chances of getting a scholarship?

Yes, it does. A lot of scholarship criteria include volunteering and community involvement. That’s because donors like to know that the students they are supporting are making a positive impact on their communities where possible.

However, if the scholarship criteria don’t specifically ask for examples – then don’t stress. Although volunteering and community involvement might give you an advantage, not having this experience often won’t hinder your chances. And you may be able to use your involvement in school projects and extracurricular activities as examples that show your commitment to making a difference.

6. Are there scholarships based solely on an ATAR?

Yes, there are. Again, it’s important to thoroughly review the scholarship eligibility criteria. However, most scholarships aren’t reliant on your ATAR score. Usually donors are more interested in your story. They want to understand why you’re studying and what you plan to do in the future to create a world worth living in.

7. How are scholarships decided?

Scholarship applications are assessed against their eligibility criteria, which is why it’s so important to apply for the ones with criteria you meet! Charles Sturt staff review all applications. Then, if the scholarship is funded by a donor, the donor will determine the scholarship recipient(s) from the final shortlist of strong applicants. Sometimes this process will include donors interviewing the strongest candidates.

8. Do I have to do anything if I am awarded a scholarship?

Scholarships are subject to you maintaining satisfactory academic progress and continued enrolment in your course. It is also a condition of our scholarships that are donor-funded that you write a thank you letter to your donor.

9. Is it worth going for scholarships every year?

Absolutely. Providing that you meet the criteria, it’s definitely worth applying every year.

Also, different scholarships are open for applications at different times of the year. So you may be able to apply for scholarships throughout the year. We recommend you bookmark our scholarships page and check in regularly!

10. Any other top tips?

Keep an eye out for scholarships available only to people from your area. A lot of local businesses and clubs offer scholarships to students from their town.

Achieve your dreams

Brogan Finnerty is one of our specialist scholarship staff. He knows getting a scholarship can help you achieve your goals. So he encourages people to apply for all of the scholarships they are eligible for – and explains how to most easily do this.

“When you go to apply for your first scholarship, you’ll be taken to the Charles Sturt University scholarship portal. The first thing you should do is complete your scholarship profile. Then applying for multiple scholarships will be much more efficient as certain fields will prepopulate in your applications (each scholarship requires a separate application).”

And here’s some more advice from Brogan.

“To give yourself an edge – tell your story, be personable, and explain your goals for the future. Our donors read a lot of applications, so do your best to show your personality and stand out.”

Receiving a scholarship helped pharmacy student Jacqui achieve her dreams.

“I didn’t have the best academic skills, so didn’t think scholarships would be for me. I’ve never asked for help before but I decided to put my hand up so I can fulfil my goals. The scholarship gave me the funds to cover moving costs, set-up and living costs, so I could concentrate on my learning.”

Still got questions? Just reach out

Getting a scholarship can help to take the weight off your mind – and your wallet – as you study at Charles Sturt. So don’t rule yourself out. And if you’ve still got questions, reach out. We’re here to help.

5-star uni for student support. We're here to help whenever you need it. 2020/21 Good Universities Guide.