Trouble with scholarships and recommendors

I’ve been applying to lots of scholarships lately as my family’s FAFSA contribution is pretty high and my parents can’t actually pay all of it.

However I’ve run into a problem where a lot of these scholarships ask for recommendations–most of the local ones especially, which are the ones I’m trying to focus on as there is a higher chance of getting them. The problem is that I’ve already asked most of the teachers who know me well several times to write me recommendations for different things (common app, scholarships, internships). I’m running out of people to ask and I hate to ask the same 5 teachers for recommendations over and over. They are so busy as it is.

Has anyone run into this issue? What should I do? Should I just focus on scholarships that don’t ask for recs? Would it be rude to ask one or two teachers to send me a pdf of a recommendation so I can have it on file to send to scholarships without having to ask them every time?

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Recommendations are part of their job. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy for them to update a letter saved on a computer & send it off. Just give them as much lead time as possible.

My kids asked the same teachers. It was not a problem for these teachers to go into saved documents and amend letters to be sent for local scholarships.

You don’t need to keep asking different people!

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At some point, you knew you’d be asking for more than the standard hs LoRs. That’s when you could have discussed their willingness and availability to do more. Any one or two of them may not mind, at all. But you’d have lined this up.

It sounds like you’re now scrambling to come up with new recommenders. In general, an LoR should be a plus, from someone who can support you- not just anyone you think you haven’t bothered too much, so far.

Before you invest so much time and effort- make sure the scholarships you are applying for can actually go towards reducing the family contribution. Some go directly to the college and are first applied towards reducing your loan amount or eliminating the work study component of your aid. You may be trying to win scholarships which are just going to reduce your financial aid… and leave the family contribution as high as it ever was… read the fine print…


In my experience, it’s better to apply for scholarships than to assume they won’t be helpful if you get them. I have seen many more students benefit from outside scholarships than not … even $1,000 is a win in my book.

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I think that you and your parents will need a 4 year plan to pay for this particular school. Many outside scholarships are one time hits and are nonrenewable.

Please don’t put all of your eggs in this particular basket. Make sure that you have an affordable option in the mix.

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Yeah, I applied to a number of local state schools in addition to these pricey private ones. If I get in to one of the state ones (I’m hoping UNC or NC State) and go there I will graduate with little to no debt, so there’s that. I am scrambling for scholarships in the hopes that I can somehow get enough to justify going to the private college that’s my dream school.

If not, oh well, it’s always good to have extra scholarship money on hand so I can save up for my master’s.

What do you mean by a 4 year plan? That’s loans, right?

Giraffe, many scholarship programs send the money directly to the college. So you won’t exactly have “extra” money on hand…I was on the board of a scholarship organization and we had to stop sending the award winners the checks directly. The money was paying for all sorts of things-- but not what it was intended for- to help needy kids pay tuition for college. So now the check goes into the kids account automatically and the college alerts us if the student withdraws or never shows up for the semester…in which case, we get our money back to be used for someone else.

Right, but that will decrease the amount my parents have to pay out of pocket, no? So if scholarship pays 1000 bucks directly to my tuition, my parents/I can save those 1000 we would have paid? Or it’s 1000 we don’t have to take out a loan for.

My financial aid will be 0 either way so I don’t see how scholarships will hurt.

Yup, if you are disciplined about saving the money that your scholarships cover… Good luck to you- and I’ll bet your teachers will be happy to write you recommendations!

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Thank you!

Actually your outside scholarships probably will not reduce the amount of money that your parents will have to pay.


How will my financial aid be adjusted for the reporting of an outside scholarship

Due to regulations, we must adjust need-based aid to account for the reporting of outside scholarships. We always reduce need-based loans or work-study before reducing any gift aid, like need-based scholarships or grants.[/quote]
You would have to get enough money in outside scholarships to cover all of your financial aid before the amount of money that your parents have to pay decreases.

A 4 year plan is will this school be an affordable option for your family for all 4 years? Will your family have to take out big loans in order for you to attend this school.

UNC-CH, meets 100% demonstrated need. Are you a NC resident?

Did you run the net price calculator? Did the net price calculator do a good prediction of how much your family would have to pay?

Thanks for the reply! Yes I have run all the calculators. We really do not qualify for any sort of financial aid–no federal work study, no pell grants, really nothing. So as I understand it the scholarships will go directly to lowering the tuition we have to pay. I will be paying full price wherever I go unless I get a merit scholarship from the college. I’m very fortunate–UNC is feasible for my family especially with in state price. Private colleges at 70k a year…not so much haha.

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Great school too. I have worked with someone from there, and when I was in graduate school (at a highly ranked school) one good friend had graduated from UNC. He was one of the top students in the program.

I would be reluctant to take only any significant debt with such a good affordable in-state university as an option. My oldest daughter was let’s say “frustrated” that I would not let her take on debt for undergrad. Then she graduated and got a great job that did not pay very well, and she was very happy that I had not let her take on any debt for undergrad.


If you do not receive any institutional financial aid, then it will help, but if you do, the outside grants reduce the institutional aid.

Good luck and just be brave and ask for those recommendations/ask for some to be generic enough to be reprinted as needed. My DD’19 hustled for the local and statewide scholarships and ended up with $7200 to put toward freshman year. (Like you, she had no financial aid so it all reduced her actual cost.) It sure did help! She also picked the affordable school for a win-win :wink: