FAQ: Applying for Honors Scholarships

Before reaching out with questions, thanks for taking some time look for the answer to your question in the Q&A section below, in the "Scholarships" section of the Honors website, or the Iowa Scholarship Portal.  If you are not able to find the answer to your question, contact Camille Socarras, Honors Scholarships Coordinator at honors-scholarships@uiowa.edu.


Q: When does the application open?

Usually in mid-November. This year, our application opened on Friday, November 18, 2019. To view a list of our deadlines, click here. To access the online universal application, visit the Iowa Scholarship Portal.  Please note: Any admitted or enrolled undergraduate student at the University of Iowa who wishes to apply for opportunities through the Iowa Scholarship Portal must complete the university's General Application before they are able to access information about or apply for any scholarship connected to the platform. 


Q: When does the application close (or when are my materials due)?

Usually in early to mid-February. This year, the deadline for all applicants and recommenders is Friday, March 6, 2020.  All materials must be submitted to Honors via the Iowa Scholarship Portal by 11:59 PM on the established deadline.


Q: Am I eligible for Honors Scholarships?

Thanks to the investment of our generous community of supporters, Honors at Iowa is able to offer a wide range of scholarships and awards to our undergraduate students in each academic year. All current members of the Honors at Iowa community who will be enrolled for the following academic year and are eligible to apply are encouraged to participate in our annual scholarship competition.  

PLEASE NOTE: Entering students who have been admitted to the University of Iowa and have opted into the Honors Program are NOTeligible to apply this cycle, but are encouraged to apply once they have completed their first semester on campus.

To be considered for any of our program scholarships, students:

  • must be a member of the University of Iowa Honors Program,
  • must be currently enrolled as a full-time student,
  • must plan to be enrolled as a full-time student in the following Academic Year, and
  • must have at least a 3.6 UI GPA*

*Though the UI GPA threshold for Honors membership is 3.33, the average UI GPA of Honors scholarship recipients is above a 3.9.  To be respectful of our students' and selectors' time, we require that members of the program hold a 3.6 UI GPA at the time of application.  GPA is NOT the only or even the most important factor in our decision-making process, but we have established this parameter to be more transparent about the norms of our competition.  We encourage students with UI GPAs of 3.6 > to apply even if the average for the recipient pool is higher.  Our selectors evaluate the whole application and GPA is just one measure.  To learn more about how we evaluate the different components of the application, see below.

The University of Iowa prohibits discrimination in employment, educational programs, and activities on the basis of race, national origin, color, creed, religion, sex, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or associational preference. The University also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to University facilities. For additional information contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity, (319) 335-0705.


Q: Are international students eligible to apply for Honors Scholarships?

International students ARE eligible to apply for the following Honors Scholarships:

  • the Presidential Fellowship,
  • the Rhodes Dunlap First & Second Year Scholarships,
  • the Dewey Stuit Second Year Scholarship, and
  • the Rhodes Dunlap Collegiate Scholarships.  

Q: What scholarships are available?

To view a list of Honors scholarships, grants, and awards, click here. 


Q: How do I access the Application Forms?

Our universal application is accessed through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Most of scholarships are connected to this platform, but we do have a handful of more discipline-specific opportunities which are available OUTSIDE of the portal. 


Q: What should I expect to submit when I apply?

A complete application package must include the following components:

  • a resume or CV, which should not exceed more than two pages in length,
  • one letter of recommendation from an individual who is familiar with your academic work and intellectual potential. This letter of support MUST come from a University of Iowa faculty member, lecturer, or teaching assistant. Please note: Honors Program Professional Staff are NOT able to serve as recommenders for this competition as it may create conflicts of interest.
  • and the 2019-20 Online Application Form, which requires each applicant to respond to the following essay prompt: 

Connect the dots of your intellectual biography. What ideas, experiences, and/or people shaped who you are today? 
Successful responses to this prompt will name and address the value of any identified forces, as well as how they influenced how you think, work, or act.

The deadline for the submission of student applications and faculty recommendations for the Honors 2018-19 Scholarship Competition Application is Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 11:59 PM.


Q: Where do I start? How do I know what is even available to me?

Applying for scholarships can be intimidating, but do not worry if you feel like you aren't sure where to get started. Everyone feels that way, but what everyone DOESN'T do is:

Thoroughly research their options.  While there are people on campus who can steer you towards good resources and offer you guidance and feedback once you start developing an application or essay, YOU are responsible for investigating your options and identifying the opportunities that are a good fit for you.  Start with our "Conduct your search" page, but don't stop there! Become a search ninja, check out what other students like you are applying for right now, and figure out what you will need to do keep track of deadlines, essay topics and letters of recommendation. Identifying relevant funding opportunities is something that anyone can do with practice and persistence.  Like any other valuable skill set, you will have to invest time and energy into developing your search skills The good news is that no matter what you end up doing as a professional, knowing how to find and successfully apply for funding - scholarships, grants, or fellowships - will always be an asset to you and to your employer. 

Look up and learn the timeline. Honors' competition will open in November with our application deadline coming up in mid-February of 2019.  Our application timeline (from open to deadline to notification and recognition) is in line with other merit competitions on campus, so when we announce our annual process on our website or via The Honorable Messenger - a weekly bulletin which goes out to all Honors students, I recommend looking at your college and departmental websites, as well as UI International Programs' undergraduate funding page. Many of these awards may be found through the Iowa Scholarship Portal, but it never hurts to check out organizational websites since not all scholarships and grants are or can be administered through the portal.  Every year in late spring, I am approached by students who want to know what scholarships are available to them for the following academic term.  Frustration is the primary response when they find out that we have already selected our scholarship recipients for the coming year.  Keeping track of things is getting easier now.  Once students complete their general profile in the Iowa Scholarship Portal, they will receive alerts when relevant competitions are opening or closing, but it is smart to set a reminder for yourself.  

Read ALL the directions and applicant materials. thoroughly before you doing anything else (and then revisit that content as needed throughout the process). This mistake is the one I see students make most often, which is so frustrating because it is 100% avoidable.  The people and organizations who support funding opportunities invest a great deal of resources into developing their application materials. If you want them to invest in you (or your research or ideas) too, you must have a full understanding of what they want from you and why they are asking you for it.  Thankfully this doesn't require psychic abilities or membership in some kind of insider network.  It just means that you have to read carefully and ask questions when you have them.

Answer the question asked.  Even if you do not like it or do not know how you will answer it right away, you MUST answer the question we ask in order to be considered for our scholarships.  The first thing I instruct our committees to look at when they are reading applications is whether or not the students responded to our prompt. If an individual does not do so, they are removed from consideration.  Since instructions can be confusing or interpreted in different ways, we encourage students with questions to reach out BEFORE the deadline to find out more about what is motivating us or just to clarify any piece that feels unclear to them.  If students do not do this and miss the point of the question, it is a waste of everyone's time and energy.  We will not be able to tell you WHAT to write or how to answer, but we are always up for a discussion of what we are asking you to explore.