Navigating through the scholarship application process can be a challenging task. That is why the Community Foundation of Sarasota County has compiled a comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions to help guide students and their applications toward success.
Drawn from decades of community experience, we have provided answers to your questions on eligibility, the application process, and required supporting documents, such as the FAFSA, SAR, and other important documents. Click on a topic below to view related questions and their corresponding answers.
Scholarships are awarded through a competitive process. While most of our scholarships require financial need, the Community Foundation does provide scholarships that are solely merit-based. Dedicated volunteers on our scholarship committees make their selections based on:
- Financial need
- Service & Activities
- Leadership potential
- Work experience
The ideal applicant has demonstrated financial need, earned a 2.8 GPA or better, worked to earn money for school, and expressed well-defined goals and objectives for their education.
Some scholarships are renewable, and some are awarded for one year only. Please read your notification letter carefully as it will detail all the terms of your scholarship award.
You are eligible for these scholarship opportunities if you are:
- A current resident of Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte, or DeSoto County, a graduating high school senior or graduate of a high school in one of these counties.
- Under 24 years of age as of December 31st of the year in which you apply.
Yes, if you are a current resident of Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, or Charlotte County, or you are a graduate of a high school located within one of these four counties.
Yes, although it is in your favor to know what school you want to attend and what career path you want to pursue.
No. Scholarship recipients can attend any accredited college, university, or community college, as well as any accredited technical school or vocational school.
No. Scholarship funds may also be used at vocational or technical schools and community colleges.
Scholarship applicants may be asked to attend an interview, but this is not typically the case. Students may be invited to committee or donor appreciation events.
Yes. Our Traditional Scholarship requires a general essay in response to the following propmpt:
We all have a background, identity, interest, or talent so significant that it influences our educational and career aspirations. Write 500-700 words explaining the factors that have led to the educational and career aspirations you plan to pursue.
In addition to this required essay, students may be given the option to write additional essays to be considered for other scholarship opportunities.
Outside the Traditional Scholarship, most of our applications require an essay specific to the scholarship opportunity.
- Transcript, Official or Unofficial - Must be in a non-editable format
- FAFSA Student Aid Report (FAFSA SAR) - See FAFSA SAR and Other Documents section for more information.
- Letters of Reference and Additional Attachments are optional, but will stregthen your application.
All information is kept confidential by our scholarship committee members.
All students who apply for the Traditional Scholarship will be notified whether or not they were awarded a scholarship around May 15. Students who apply for scholarships requiring separate applications will be notified approximately 3 months after the stated application deadline.
Scholarship awards are sent directly to the school of the student’s choice, on the student’s behalf. Scholarship funds are never directly released to the student.
Most applications are submitted digitally through our online portal, but some applications may require a paper submission.
Once submitted, all applications are reviewed by a dedicated committee of community volunteers. Depending on the type of scholarship, interviews may be conducted on a case-by-case basis.
After a scholarship decision has been reached, applicants will be promptly notified of their award status via email. Please keep in mind that once a decision has been reached, it cannot be altered in any way unless under extraordinary circumstances.
FAFSA stands for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” and is used to apply for different types of federal, state, and private financial aid for education. According to the FAFSA website, FAFSA "is the first step in the financial aid process."
SAR stands for “Student Aid Report.” It summarizes the information provided on the FAFSA and delivers information about the applicant’s financial need, including the EFC, also known as “Estimated Family Contribution.”
Typically, it is a 5-8 page document and all pages will need to be submitted to be considered for a scholarship opportunity. View a sample FAFSA Student Aid Report (FAFSA SAR).
FAFSA may be completed on the web at https://www.fafsa.ed.gov or possibly at your school if they participate in Electronic Data Exchange (contact your school for this information).
FAFSA can also be completed by paper. It may be possible to obtain a hard copy at your school.
According to the FAFSA website, filing online "is the fastest and most accurate way to apply for student aid.” FAFSA can be reached by phone at 1-800-433-3243.
As soon as possible! The earlier in the year that you apply, the quicker you will get a response. Conversely, the later in the year you apply, the longer it will take to get a response. Depending on the time of year in which you are applying, there may be multiple FAFSA applications available for different academic years. Please ensure that you are applying for the academic year for which your scholarship will be awarded. For instance, if you are applying for a scholarship that will be awarded for Fall 2021 – Spring 2022, you should complete the 2021–2022 FAFSA application that becomes available in October 2020.
It is recommended that you have filed your tax return prior to completing your FAFSA, but it is not required. It will take longer if you have not filed your family’s taxes. Please visit the FAFSA website at https://www.fafsa.ed.gov for more information.
A college aid award letter is provided to the student by the college they will be attending. It lists the cost of attending the college and aid that is available to the student for the upcoming school year, including grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans.
You will receive the college aid award letter only after you have completed the FAFSA and requested that the results be sent to your chosen college.