Tips for Applying for Funding

  1. Ensure that you meet eligibility requirements and follow all application instructions. Unfortunately, many otherwise compelling funding applications are frequently disqualified because the applicant failed to fully read the instructions and is either missing part of the application itself or in some cases, simply doesn’t meet the qualifications of the funding award. Since these applications are usually time consuming, please take the time to first:
      • Verify the eligibility requirements to make sure that you qualify for an award before submitting
      • Double check that you have completed all parts of the application process (and have all accompanying required documents) before you hit submit.
        Please note that if a resume is required for your funding app, Career Services offers a resume critique service free to Penn students and alumni served by our office.
      • Ensure you are providing all of the required documents in the proper format.
  2. Explain how this opportunity will make a difference in your career path. If an organization is going to award you money, they want to make sure that it is a good investment. Part of the way to do that is to be able to see how the opportunity or experience their funding makes possible will be an important step along a career journey.
      • Describe the impact this opportunity will have on longer term career goals  – how will this help you get to where you’d like to be in five years? In ten?
      • Why is this the right time for this opportunity?
      • How will you make the most of the experience if awarded the funding?
  3. Demonstrate the need for this funding. Most funding sources are competitive and frequently preference is given to applicants who can demonstrate strong financial need.
      • Paint a picture of your financial circumstances, providing details and context for how recent events may have changed things.
      • Outline how this funding will make a difference in making the professional opportunity possible.
  4. Create a reasonable and detailed budget (if required/requested).  A detailed and thoughtful budget proposal makes it clear how you will wisely spend your funding. A favorable budget will:
      • Provide a detailed breakdown of costs.
      • Convey well-researched and reasonable costs of living for your location and situation.
      • Show ways in which you are prepared to stretch your dollars (e.g. packing meals for lunch, taking public transportation or biking to save money on commuting, investigating the least expensive short-term student housing options available, etc.).
  5. Ensure that your application is error-free. Good attention to detail is just as important here as it is everywhere else and will be a sign that you are taking this endeavor (and the funding you might receive) seriously.
  6. Illustrate a willingness to give back. Some funding programs ask for recipients to later state how the funding award made a difference in their trajectory. With Career Services, for example, we ask recipients to write a blog post about their summer experience made possible by the funding.
    ie. As part of your application (whether or not it’s required), provide ways in which you intend to pay it forward as a funding recipient–maybe it’s being willing to be a guest speaker for the funding organization if asked, be included in social media posts, write a blog entry about your experience, or do some other form of community service.