FAQs for Students

Prepare for Your Future

Student FAQs

General Information

What is the difference between a scholarship and a fellowship?

Many people use these two terms interchangeably; on this website we use whatever term the award uses. A common distinction between the two is that a fellowship may be for post-baccalaureate study; a scholarship is associated with undergraduate study.

For what kinds of fellowships do I qualify?

Qualifications are based on eligibility and criteria. You qualify to apply for any fellowship for which you meet the eligibility requirements, i.e., citizenship, class year, field of study, age, and GPA. You may technically qualify for a given fellowship, but you also need to determine if you meet the criteria for selection. Browse our Scholarship/Fellowship list to learn more about available opportunities and also meet with Dr. Damuth to discuss your eligibility.

What are my chances of winning any given fellowship?

Chances of winning these scholarships vary tremendously. There are many factors that influence the success of any fellowship application—some of these factors you can control; some you cannot.  It is wise to carefully consider the criteria for selection for the particular fellowship in which you are interested. If you feel that you meet these criteria and you work hard on presenting yourself well in the application, you will be competitive and should seriously consider applying.

Because so many of these awards are highly competitive, the process of applying itself will be helpful for you to verbalize your goals and your career trajectory. Some of the essays you write for the scholarship application may be helpful for other applications, such as those for graduate school or for medical school/law school. Just remember: if you don’t apply, you cannot win!

Who serves on campus selection committees?

For some scholarships/fellowships the university is limited in the number of applications that can be submitted. The Fellowships Office relies on campus selection committees to determine UNL’s best candidates. Selection committees are created from faculty members, academic deans and other administrative officers on campus.

Can I apply for more than one fellowship? Will it hurt my chances of winning others?

You can apply for multiple fellowships at the same time. Having previously won another award, or even having applied for the same fellowship in the past, will not hurt your changes in the slightest. Since many scholarships and fellowships are geared towards similar students, we would advise you apply for as many as interest you and for as many as you have time to prepare.

What is involved in applying for fellowships?

Every fellowship application process is different. First look on the fellowship’s website to read about the components of the application.  The Fellowship Preparation area on this website is a wonderful resource for many of the most well-known fellowship opportunities.

I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I still apply for fellowships?

Yes! We have a special list on the fellowships website under the Other Opportunities section geared specifically towards those students who are from other countries. Feel free to peruse it and look for the ones that apply to you.

Preliminary Application

What is a Preliminary Application?

We require a UNL campus Preliminary Application for the major fellowships, such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell and Fulbright scholarships. It is due to the Fellowships Office in mid-April or mid-October depending upon the scholarship or fellowship.

What is the purpose of the Preliminary Application?

The preliminary application serves as the starting point for the scholarship application process. It helps the office to know you a little better and to gauge the seriousness of your commitment to the scholarship process.

Can I still apply if I miss the Preliminary Application deadline?

Yes, but you must contact the Fellowships Office (fellowships@unl.edu) several months ahead of the national deadline to let us know of your interest.


Preparation of the Final Application

Where can I find copies of winning applications?

We strongly prefer that you do not consult any previous applications to help with the preparation of your essays. In some instances, Dr. Damuth can show you some examples of previous winning applications, but for the most part, there is no template available for the perfect essay.

Can I speak with previous winners?

Most of the recent winners are probably not on campus, but many of them are willing to speak with you about their experiences. You can see a list of recent winners on this website and ask Dr. Damuth for their contact information.

Who can help me with writing application essays?

Students MUST speak with Dr. Damuth about their essays and she, along with a faculty advisor in your discipline, can help brainstorm with you about the content of the essays.

What sort of academic record do I need to have to qualify?

It depends upon the scholarship or fellowship. Most will require a high level of academic achievement, but many also require a level of engagement/involvement both on and off campus.  Consult Dr. Damuth to see if you qualify for the scholarships in which you are interested.

What is an institutional endorsement?

An “institutional endorsement” is a letter of support required for some of the most prestigious scholarships.  It indicates that the applicant is submitting their application, administered through the Fellowships Office, with the official approval of their college or university. An institutional endorsement usually indicates that a fellowship nominee has gone through an internal selection process here at UNL.

Personal Statements

What can you tell me about a personal statement?

It is simply a one-to-two page response to the question asked on every application; it is a requirement designed to allow the scholarship selection committee to get to know you, your passions, your goals, and why you are a perfect fit for the scholarship.  The personal statement takes time.  Dr. Damuth will work with you one-on-one to help you to improve the personal statement.  It is important that this statement honestly reflects you and your values in a positive, concise way.

How many drafts should I expect to prepare of my personal statement?

The quick answer: as many as you need! While no applicant goes through the same process, most applicants will end up writing at least 10-12 drafts before the final version is produced.  Each draft explores different narratives, using different techniques, and employing different emphases.  The process of rethinking and revising will help you hone your focus and strengthen the application as a whole.

Who should read my personal statement?

When it comes to reading and editing the personal statement, the more eyes, the better.  Submit your work to the Fellowships Office, and also ask your friends, parents, professors, and mentors to read it.  They will let you know if it truly reflects who you are, and clearly defines where you want to go and why. Other readers will be able to spot areas in need of improvement that may escape your attention.

Letters of Recommendation

How many letter of recommendation do I need?

Scholarships can require anywhere from two to eight letters of recommendation.  As each scholarship has its own specified number of recommendations, you should read the application instructions carefully when thinking about whom to ask for letters of support.  Also consult Dr. Damuth; she will let you know if all of the letters need to come from faculty or not.

Who should I ask for letters of recommendation, and how can these be submitted?

It depends on the scholarship or fellowship.  Speak with Dr. Damuth BEFORE asking your recommenders so that she can offer the best advice on who to approach. Ideally you should ask faculty members, UNL staff or individuals in the community who have had a chance to get to know you well.  For faculty, it should be those who know you beyond the scope of the normal classroom setting.  These can be individuals with whom who you have worked through UCARE or another research program, or simply ones with whom you have connected outside of class.

Please be in touch with Dr. Damuth about how the letters are to be submitted; the process is different for every scholarship.


Do transcripts have to be official?

As a general rule, YES; although it may depend on the nature of the scholarship.  It is always bets to check with Dr. Damuth when requesting transcripts. You may also have to request individual transcripts from any undergraduate institution that you have attended since beginning UNL, or from study abroad programs.

What if I have other questions?

Contact the Fellowships Office (fellowships@unl.edu) and we will be happy to answer any other questions you may have.