How to answer “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” essay prompt (with examples!)

When you’re applying for scholarships, you’ll see tons of different essay prompts.Two of the most common are “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” or its similar variation “Why are you applying for this scholarship?” While these might seem like intimidating questions, don’t overthink them! These are straightforward questions that you can easily answer. You just have to organize your thoughts and convey your strengths in your scholarship essay!

Student answering why you deserve this scholarship essay

Why do I need to write an essay like this? 

Scholarship providers want to give the award to the most deserving student. So they’re basically asking you directly: Why should it be you? They want to learn about what sets one applicant apart from the others. Usually, the provider wants to know your strengths, as it relates to the goal of the scholarship. For instance, why you might deserve an athletic scholarship might be different from why you deserve a financial need scholarship. 

How do I write an essay to answer the “why you deserve this scholarship” essay prompt? Tips to Consider

Express Who You Are

One of the first things to consider is to express who you are in your writing. Show scholarship providers why you deserve this scholarship by painting them a picture of who you are in your essay. If you’re applying for an art-related scholarship, explain how you became interested in art, why you plan to pursue it, and share your artistic goals. Even if you’re not a master of art, you can express your passion for art and your interest in continued education.

Remember Why You’re a Good Fit

We know it’s exciting to make a list of all the scholarships you want to apply to and check them off once you’ve sent in your application (No? Just us?). Scholarships are practically free money because you don’t have to pay them back! When you’re writing about why you deserve this scholarship, think about what enticed you to apply. Was it because you’re studying a major the scholarship supports? Are you planning to focus on work-study or an internship to further your work ethic and education? Think about what influenced you to apply to the scholarship and tie that into your scholarship essay.

Student pointing to computer screen

Reflect On Less-Than Perfect Circumstances

This is where your scholarship essay might get personal. You can share as little or as much as you’d like in your essay, as some students may discuss struggles with family income growing up, supporting their family, the environment in which they grew up in, physical obstacles, and other less-than perfect circumstances. Leverage your experiences that brought you to where you are today. If you feel comfortable sharing them in your scholarship essay, then go for it. Share your story in an organized, structured way. 

Share what you plan to do with the scholarship award

Why you are deserving doesn’t just have to do with your past achievements; it also has to do with your future plans and goals. Scholarship providers want to fund students who will go on to achieve great things or who wish to give back to their communities. For instance, in scholarship winner Daniel Gill’s essay, he explains how the award money will be put to good use: “This scholarship will help me work toward a world where every child has access to education and all children know they belong.”

How should I structure “Why I Deserve It” scholarship essay? + Examples!

In general, there are three ways we’ve seen Going Merry students successfully tackle this essay. 

1. Treat it like a résumé, in paragraph form.

Since it’s asking you to brag about your strengths, some essay answers simply describe the applicant’s multiple accomplishments (either in chronological order, or grouped by interest/category – like academics, sports, research, student clubs). This is a particularly good strategy if the scholarship application doesn’t ask for a résumé or list of extracurricular activities. In that case, this essay is your opportunity to discuss those.

An example version of this might read like this:

“I [have been committed] to programs that would further develop my view of the world. I have been involved in Choir and Music Club. I have also been a member of the Red Crescent club for 3 years, which has expanded my exposures to other cultures by learning another language and studying multiple customs. I have been the captain of both the varsity golf and softball teams for two years, developing my leadership skills. My involvement in both my school and community prove that I am a student committed to developing a promising future.

2. Treat it like a personal statement. 

Maybe you deserve the scholarship because of the type of person you are–someone who has overcome adversity, thinks deeply, is passionate about a specific subject, or wants to contribute to their community. In that case, you might simply be able to reuse your personal statement, tweaking it slightly to be able to explain how your personal characteristics or narrative make you a deserving scholarship recipient. 

One example of this is Going Merry winner Daniel Gill’s essay, which discusses how he discovered his love of puppetry and how it can help autistic children. He summarizes with:

“I am at a critical juncture in my path. Helping children who experience social disconnection integrate into their classrooms, is my passion. This scholarship will help me work toward a world where every child has access to education and all children know they belong.”

3. Treat it like a career and/or academic goals essay. 

You’re likely using your scholarship money to attend college or grad school, so that you can pursue certain academic or career interests. You can discuss those, and then explain how scholarship funding would allow you to continue down that intended path, just like this short essay did

“The scholarship award will only push me further towards my Accounting degree and my dreams of one day having a successful career as an Accountant. […] Five years from now I see myself employed at a large local firm, crunching numbers, evaluating,and solving certain financial matters. I just feel blessed that I am given the opportunity to be awarded a scholarship to help fulfill my dream and I will prove that I do have what it takes to not only be a successful student, but an outstanding accountant.”

Here’s a guide on writing a career goals essay, and another guide for writing an essay on your academic goals

Student on computer outdoors

What about the “Why are you applying for this scholarship” question? Is it the same?

Yes and no. Both questions get at the same core idea (why are you relevant and deserving of the scholarship money), so for both essay prompts, your essay should describe your strengths and future plans. 

However, to properly answer this “why are you applying” question, you’ll also need to address your interest in the scholarship topic (e.g. if it’s a scholarship for nursing, why are you interested in nursing), as well as information about your financial situation (you are likely applying because you have need for the money, to pay for college or grad school). 

And the “Why do you need this scholarship” question? Is that one the same?

Nope! This is a question about financial need. Although it may be uncomfortable to discuss, this prompt is asking you directly about your financial situation and why additional funding is necessary for you to pursue your academic or career plans. 

Also, check out this helpful list of the 10 most common scholarship essay topics to get started!

Top 10 Most Common Scholarship Essay Prompts Graphic

Ready to Start Answering an Essay Prompt Like This?

Now that you’ve got a better grasp on how to answer a prompt like, “Explain why you deserve this scholarship,” we think you’re ready to start writing and applying to scholarships! Get started by signing up for a free profile with Going Merry. You can write your essay and apply to thousands of scholarships. Just think of us as your one-stop shop for all things scholarships, including essay writing resources.

Ready to find scholarships that are a match for you?