Deciding to Apply

Before You Apply

As you decide whether to apply for a fellowship, we encourage you to carefully consider the following:

Review the eligibility criteria

Often, the eligibility criteria are quite straightforward. Note their rules regarding minimum GPA, citizenship, time from graduation, age, and so on. Also, note any preferences articulated by the scholarship foundation that go beyond the basic rules of eligibility.

Review the selection criteria

Beyond the basics of eligibility, the selection criteria define what makes a candidate competitive. Reading bios of past winners, if available, can be helpful here. Make an honest self-assessment of your strengths as a potential candidate. In the process, talk to trusted faculty, mentors, and advisors, including NCA. No one can make this decision for you, but it is always good to have sounding boards in this process.

Assess the application timeline

Compare the application timeline to your schedule of commitments. Will you be able to devote time to the application?

Once You Decide to Apply

Contact NCA

If you are applying for a Core Award, NCA must have advance notice of your intent to apply so we can schedule your interview slot. Additionally, we ask anyone who works with our office to complete a records release form, which should be submitted to

Launch your online application

Once the application is open, set up your profile. This allows you to see the current cycle’s essay prompts (these can change from year to year) and register your recommenders. Review all directions carefully, and mark all deadlines (internal and national) on your calendar.

Establish a writing schedule

Most writers need structure, so you should set up a writing timeline for yourself. NCA is happy to help you create a workable schedule for yourself. Share your tentative drafting plan with NCA. Also, if you want to apply for multiple awards at the same time, it becomes all the more important that you plan and prioritize. Decide which award is most important to you, and work on that one first.