How to apply for scholarships

How to increase your chances of success when you apply for a scholarship.

It’s worth applying for scholarships because you could receive financial help for your studies.


However, each year scholarship applications are turned down due to mistakes such as applicants not signing their applications, or sending them in too late. Follow these guidelines to increase your chances of being awarded a scholarship.

Step 1: Find scholarships you qualify for

Many scholarships are aimed at specific groups of people such as those who:

  • want to study in a particular field
  • have achieved at a high level
  • have shown leadership skills or community involvement
  • are from a particular area in New Zealand
  • have certain ancestry
  • are experiencing financial hardship
  • want to study overseas.

You should only apply for scholarships that you could qualify for. To find these:

  • use general online scholarship databases such as StudySpy and Generosity New Zealand
  • visit the websites of places where you want to study and look for their scholarship information
  • talk to your teachers, careers adviser, and advisers at the place you want to study.

Step 2: Check what documents you need to supply, by when

For each scholarship, note:

Step 3: Contact referees early

If you have to supply references, contact your referees early on so they have time to write your references. Let them know what scholarships you’re applying for.

Step 4: Get your document copies certified

You will probably be asked for certified copies of your documents – copies that someone trustworthy has checked and signed as accurate copies. There is no charge for this service.

Find out who can certify your documents for each scholarship, as it varies. Certifiers could include:

  • teachers
  • kaumātua
  • ministers of religion
  • police officers
  • registered medical professionals
  • solicitors or Justices of the Peace.

To get your copies certified:

Step 5: Make a good impression in your application

It’s important to make a good impression in your application. Make sure you:

  • find out about the organisation awarding the scholarship and tailor your application to their goals
  • fill in all sections tidily
  • check your spelling
  • attach all documents in the order they are requested. Ensure you have provided everything that was asked for
  • ask someone to check your work before submitting or sending it.

Submit your application by the closing date, and make sure you keep a copy for your records.

If you’re posting your application, allow at least three working days for it to arrive, and longer if you’re in a rural area.

Updated 11 Jun 2019