How to Write A Reference Letter for Scholarship [Sample Templates]

A reference letter or recommendation letter is part of most scholarship applications. Admissions officers want to get to know the student’s character, other than his or her grades and test scores. Because they usually don’t have the opportunity to meet the student in person, recommendation letters are very important.

Usually, students ask a teacher, counselor, or another person in their school for a recommendation letter. Your letter of recommendation should show the student’s abilities and strengths.

The purpose of a letter of recommendation is to express a student’s accomplishments and their potential to succeed in the future. The letter shows that the student has people in his or her life who are happy to speak on their behalf.

Below are tips on how to write a perfect reference letter for scholarship, as well as what materials to ask the candidate for, and when to say no (and how to say no) to writing a letter for student or someone.


What is A Reference Letter?

A reference letter, also known as a letter of recommendation, is a letter that speaks to someone’s work experience, skills, expertise, personal qualities, and/or academic performance. It is written by a former employer, colleague, client, teacher, or someone else who can speak positively about that person.

Why Do You Need A Reference Letter for Scholarship?

Reference or recommendation letters are usually needed when a student is applying for a scholarship, an academic grant or when applying for enrollment into a school. The basic reason why schools require a recommendation letter is to gain deeper insight into the content of the character of a prospective student. University and colleges use the information provided in the letter to have a better appreciation of the prospect as a whole person’. Reference letters provide details of a student that cannot be gleaned from his/her academic records, test scores, and grades.

Who Should Write A Scholarship Recommendation Letter?

Most often, this letter will be written by a teacher, a professor, or a counselor. However, depending on the scholarship criteria, an employer or athletic coach may also be an appropriate, or required, choice. What is most important is that the author understands the scholarship requirements and will be able to use their personal relationship to the candidate in order to justify their personal recommendation with specific examples.

How to Write a Recommendation Letter for a Student Scholarship

A scholarship letter of recommendation should fill an entire page (approximately 300 – 500 words) and contain a letterhead, an introduction, 2 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.


At the top left-hand corner of the page, the author should include the following information:

  1. Date of Writing
  2. Full Name
  3. Title
  4. School Name
  5. Street Address
  6. City, State, Zip Code
  7. Preferred Contact (optional)


The introductory paragraph will briefly introduce the candidate, state the scholarship for which they are recommending the candidate for, and describe the nature and length of the author’s relationship with the said candidate. Specific details of the candidate’s suitability will be described in the body paragraphs, so the introduction only needs to be 2 or 3 sentences in length.

First Paragraph

In the first body paragraph of the letter, the author will describe the ways in which the candidate fulfills the criteria for the scholarship. Here, the author can use quantitative examples such as the candidate’s grades and academic performance to demonstrate that the candidate is a stand-out student. By demonstrating that they understand what sort of candidate the scholarship committee is looking for, the author will make their recommendation worthier of consideration. This paragraph should be approximately 3 to 5 sentences in length.

Second Paragraph

Having expressed that the student is a suitable candidate in the previous paragraph, the author should now use concrete examples to support their assessment. For instance, if the first paragraph states that the student meets the academic requirements in a particular field of study (e.g. biology, literature), the second paragraph could follow up with examples of the student’s relevant schoolwork (e.g. lab work, essays) or awards. Depending on the number of examples that the author is able to use, this paragraph can run from 3 to 5 sentences in length.


A scholarship letter of recommendation should end with a concluding paragraph which emphasizes the author’s endorsement of the candidate and leaves an invitation to contact the author by email or telephone (a preferred contact, not necessarily both). The author will also need to sign the letter by hand in order to certify its authenticity. This conclusion should leave the reader with a deep impression of the author’s confidence in the candidate and will generally run from 2 to 4 sentences in length.

Scholarship Recommendation Letter Sample

April 19, 2019

Frank Jacobs
Literature and English Teacher
Franciscan High School
31 Lewis Street
Bridgetown, CA, 90210

Dear Sir/Madam,

I write this letter in support of Jan Stewart’s application for the Big Sur Poetry Scholarship. I had the pleasure of teaching Jan in her 11th and 12th grade English Literature class at Franciscan High School. She has always impressed me with her ability to be articulate difficult concepts and understand dense texts. Jan’s sensitivity to the nuances within literature and her passion for reading and writing set her apart from both as a student and as a writer.

During her senior year, Jan produced an extraordinary thesis paper on creative identity development, in which she compared works from three different time periods and synthesized cultural and historical perspectives to inform her analysis. When called upon to give her thesis defense in front of her peers, Jan spoke clearly and eloquently about her conclusions and responded to questions in a thoughtful way. While she shows much promise as a well-rounded liberal arts student, it is poetry which most interests Jan. She publishes her poetry in our school’s literary magazine and has also had her work published in online magazines.

Throughout the year Jan was an active participant in our discussions, and she always supported her peers. Her caring nature and personality allow her to work well with others in a team setting, as she always respects others’ opinions even when they differ from her own. Throughout the year, Jan demonstrated this openness to and empathy for the opinions, feelings, and perspectives of others, along with shrewd powers of observation, all qualities that make her outstanding as a student of literature and aspiring poetess.

I am certain that Jan is going to continue to do great and creative things in her future. Her work, as I am sure you will agree, demonstrates an impressive depth for a young student. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at [email protected].


Mr. Frank Jacobs


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