Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about externally funded scholarships and fellowships. You may want to read all of the content to get an idea of what Nationally Competitive Scholarships and Fellowships are, or you may want to browse the content to find the most important information for your cocerns. If you question is not addressed here, please contact our office or make an advising appointment to learn more.


What do Nationally Competitive Scholarships Advisors do and how can I make contact?
The NCS Advisor is here to provide insight, guidance and logistical support to any student who is considering applying for nationally competitive fellowships or scholarships. You can contact the NCS office by sending an email to ncs.appstate.edu or scheduling an appointment under the “Schedule an Appointment” tab in the menu.


When should I start looking into scholarships and fellowships?
The sooner you begin your search for a fellowship the more options you may have as many application deadlines fall almost a year before the commencement of the program. Starting early will also allow for more time to prepare a competitive application, as well as improve your overall candidacy by giving you time to establish relationships with faculty and engage in extracurricular activities which may help to show that you are a well-rounded and compelling candidate.


What is the difference between a fellowship and a scholarship?
The definition is slippery, because terms including fellowship, grant, and scholarship commonly overlap and are often interchangeable. Indeed, some of the most well-known “fellowships” are the Rhodes Trust Scholarship and the Truman Scholarship.

A fellowship and a scholarship are considered grants, and sometimes the terms may be used interchangeably. Most fellowships are also scholarships, but scholarships may not be fellowships. The word “fellowship” is a generic term that encompasses nationally competitive grants, scholarships, and similar funding opportunities. Typically, fellowships fund study, research, or teaching in the U.S. or abroad. Fellowships are an investment in your future, not a reward for previous work. A “scholarship” is a financial award given to a college student (commonly at the undergraduate level) for general education expenses on the basis of academic achievement and promise. Many scholarships are awarded based on merit. However, some also take into account financial need.


How do I know if I am qualified for a given fellowship?

Most fellowship programs provide clear eligibility and candidate qualifications guidelines on their websites. Eligibility criteria may be based on citizenship status, field of study, academic level or a combination of many other factors.

There are also criteria that fall in the gray area such as a strong academic record, research experience, exceptional motivation, a record of leadership experience or evidence of community engagement.


What should I do to prepare myself for a Nationally Competitive Scholarship?

Check out the Application Guidance tab for useful tips on how to prepare for a Nationally Competitive Scholarship. 


What is an institutional endorsement / nomination?

Many scholarships require applicants to be endorsed or nominated by their College in order for their application to be eligible for consideration. This institutional endorsement/nomination means that a fellowship applicant has gone through an internal selection process and is submitting their application with the official approval of their college or university. NCS is the office that can complete institutional endorsements and nominations which is why it is important to work with our office early and often in your application process.


What is the difference between an internal and official deadline?
An official fellowship deadline is the date established by the fellowship’s sponsoring organization for the receipt of all application materials. An internal deadline (campus deadline) is the date set by NCS to receive the completed application, including letters of recommendation, transcripts, the final version of the personal statement, and any other required application materials. The internal deadline is usually one month prior to the official deadline so that our campus review committee can read the application files and select nominees where appropriate, and prepare and send the application materials before the official deadline.


Can I apply for more than one fellowship?

You can apply for as many fellowships as you would like. There is no limit and it does not hurt your chances to apply for multiple awards. Some fellowships, though distinct, overlap in terms of field or type, so it makes sense to apply for all that are relevant. Given that most fellowships have a distinct purpose or mission you will need to ensure that you appropriately tailor your application materials to fit the individual award criteria.


Can I receive more than one fellowship at the same time for the same activity?

Event though you may be able to apply for multiple awards you may not be able to accept or receive multiple awards for the same activity. Most fellowship programs have strict rules over duplicate funding so you will need to make sure that you inform all funding organizations of all the awards that you have received. 


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

Yes. Although most fellowships are for US citizens or permanent residents, there are a number of grants for foreign nationals as well. Please see our Award Opportunities page for more information about fellowships for non-U.S. Citizens. Please see our list of scholarships for additional award opportunities and full scholarship portfolio.


How long is the application process?
Many application deadlines are up to a year in advance of the fellowship period. It is important to start early. It is important to create a timeline that will ensure that you have sufficient time to prepare competitive application components and meet all deadlines.


Who is available to help me write my application essays?
NCS advisors along with our network of campus advisors can help you with all aspects of your application, particularly the essay writing process. Another great campus resource is the University Writing Center located in Belk Library. If you need help getting started, browse the resources under Application Guidance.

Can NCS help me to find scholarships for funding my tuition and expenses at App?
Yes and no, depending upon the nature of the request. NCS can provide guidance to students on preparing a competitive application for any scholarship or fellowship program. For information on financial aid, please visit your department scholarship pages or go to https://scholarships.appstate.edu/.

I just found a perfect fellowship for me, but the deadline just passed two days ago. Can I still apply?
No. Deadlines are non-negotiable in the fellowships world. But you can always apply next year, so a great plan is to start your application now to be prepared and competitive for the next competition cycle.


Does NCS help students get money for unpaid internships with corporations, non-governmental organizations, professors, laboratories, or political figures?
No. Fellowships and Scholarships are almost always granted so that individuals can pursue scholarship or research. For information on how to obtain an internship that would provide valuable work experience, you should contact the Careers Development Center at https://careers.appstate.edu/


My grades aren’t the best. Do I still have a chance?
High grades undoubtedly help in the pursuit of competitive fellowships, but programs vary in their insistence on top grades. Those that value high grades usually say so in the eligibility and/or criteria sections of their websites. If the rest of your application is stellar (in other words, if you can demonstrate commitment, leadership and excellence in other areas), you may still be a strong candidate.


I had a bad semester due to circumstances beyond my control. The rest of my grades have been very strong, but because of this one semester my GPA is lower. Can I still apply?
Yes, if your overall GPA falls within the required minimum or where no minimum is stated t. It is incumbent on you to explain the circumstances that resulted in a semester of poor performance. In some cases, the Fellowships Advisor can write a letter on your behalf explaining limited exceptional circumstances as can one of your recommenders.

Does NCS assist alumni who wish to apply?

Yes. In many instances, you might be a better applicant for a competitive fellowship after you’ve had some time away from college to think about what specific degree objective you wish to pursue. All of the same resources will be offered to alumni that are offered to current students.


If I don’t win the first time, should I reapply for the same fellowship?
Yes, as long as you still fulfill the eligibility requirements for a given fellowship. A second application often impresses a scholarship committee by underscoring your personal commitment to the scholarship’s mission and goals. Moreover, post-graduation applications are viewed as the result of mature reflection and a more critical self-assessment.