Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Wait for it… you won!

The scholarship cycle: explore in summer, find in fall, apply in winter, win in spring

You’ll hear back from scholarship agencies in spring and early summer.

So you’ve bundled up all the pieces of your application and sent them off before the deadline. (Good job on that, by the way.) When can you expect to hear back? Probably not as soon as you’d like. It takes 3 to 5 months to get the results.

Check your email!

Did you give the scholarship agency your school email address, but you only check your personal email account? Make sure the email address and phone number you gave the agency are current and you are checking them regularly. You don’t want to miss a message saying you won a scholarship.

You got it! That’s awesome!

Accept the award


This might sound obvious, but you have to tell the scholarship agency you want the money. Every scholarship will ask for either an agreement or an acceptance of the money. You are agreeing to the terms of the scholarship (e.g., maintaining your GPA, continuing to volunteer, whatever they ask you to do).

Write thank you letters

I always enjoy reading the thank you letters. It feels good to know that a student is grateful for the investment a donor has made in them. Scholarship donor

You might be requested to write a thank you letter to the donor. Even if they don’t ask, do it anyway. Be sincere in your letter and make sure the donor knows how you feel about being chosen for this money.

Use your scholarship

Scholarship agencies will indicate what the scholarship can pay for tuition, fees, books, personal expenses, transportation, etc. Funds are generally paid directly to the school, however, make sure you know how your scholarship will be applied to your bill. See paying with a scholarship at PCC.

Will the scholarship decrease my financial aid?
  • A scholarship will never lower the amount of your financial aid grants.
  • A scholarship can potentially lower the amount of student loans you can borrow. This is because you aren’t allowed to borrow more money than you need to attend school, and scholarships decrease the amount of money you need. Contact your school’s financial aid office if you want to know exactly how your scholarship will affect your loans.

You didn’t get it. Don’t give up!


Students have to be persistent to win scholarships. If it didn’t happen for you this year, don’t give up. Even though it may not feel like it, you are way ahead of the game. You are now in a scholarship mindset. You’ve done the hardest work already, and you can build on that hard work you put into your applications to make them better next time.

Now that you know the application process, it will get a lot easier!

Three things to do if you didn’t win:

  1. Keep revising your essays
  2. Ask the scholarship agencies what you can improve
  3. Keep track of your scholarship applications and apply again
Why it’s smart to re-apply next year

Even though you didn’t win, you could have been considered a very strong applicant. Scholarship committees will often remember strong candidates from the year before and appreciate your tenacity.

Here’s a perspective from an actual scholarship committee member:

The committee agreed the scholarship would go to the student who had completed more coursework, but everyone commented that we hope the runner-up student applies again next year because he was such a great candidate. Scholarship committee member

That runner-up student could be you!

You’re almost done! Well, for this year anyway…