Frequently Asked Questions

March scholarship due dates have been extended. Please visit individual scholarship webpages for further information.

View frequently asked questions for each of these categories:

About SVCF scholarships Eligibility How to apply
Using our online application system ("Apply SVCF") to apply for select scholarships Application documents Updating your contact information
Scholarship award payments Renewable scholarships Thank you notes
Find scholarships based on other criteria Other resources Helpful videos

Coronavirus Scholarships Updates

Coronavirus scholarships updates Important resources during this time How to best contact SVCF Scholarships staff
Required documents and application updates Prepare for virtual interviews Working from home do’s & don'ts
Food and shelter in-place resources Bay Area Resources State of California Resources

About SVCF scholarships

What is a scholarship fund?
Scholarship funds are charitable accounts established at SVCF by generous individuals, corporations or organizations for the purpose of assisting students in paying for their education. Scholarships do not need to be repaid.

What is the difference between SVCF Managed Scholarships and Donor Involved Scholarships?
SVCF staff administers the application, selection and award process of SVCF Managed Scholarships. Applications are accepted through our online application portal, Apply SVCF, starting Jan. 7, 2019. 

While SVCF provides oversight and administers the payment process for Donor Involved Scholarships, the application and selection processes are managed by an external selection committee appointed by SVCF. The description for each Donor Involved Scholarship lists a contact person or organization that you should contact for an application or additional information. Applications for Donor Involved Scholarships are not accepted through Apply SVCF.

Can I receive more than one scholarship?
Yes; however, if you’ve been previously awarded and have scholarships on hold, you will be disqualified from being a finalist. Students may receive more than one scholarship, if they have no scholarships on hold. However, recipients of the Crain Scholarship Program or the Hazel Reed Baumeister Scholarship Program can receive either scholarship, but not both.

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Eligibility

How do I know if I am eligible to apply?
Eligibility criteria are listed under each scholarship program and in the scholarship description(s) and application instructions. Thoroughly read each scholarship program’s eligibility requirements to identify the scholarships for which you may be eligible.

Are only graduating high school seniors eligible?
No. While many of our scholarships are for graduating high school seniors, others are open to students already enrolled in college or adults who want to go back to school. Find the scholarships that are right for you!

What if I’m attending a vocational school?
Our donors understand that not all students take the traditional path in their pursuit of higher education, and some programs, such as The Ruppert Educational Grant Program, provide scholarship support to students who attend vocational schools. Thoroughly review the program descriptions to identify all the scholarships for which you may be eligible. You may find all scholarships for students in vocational school here.

What if I’m enrolled at an online school?
To be in accordance with IRS policies and guidelines, we cannot award scholarships to students enrolled at correspondence schools or schools that operate exclusively on-line programs. Schools that offer both on-line classes and in-person classes are eligible.

Do you have scholarships for graduate or professional programs?  
Yes. Please see all programs for graduate students here.

What if I am not a "straight A" student?
SVCF offers scholarships for a variety of students, including part-time students and students who are likely not to receive other scholarships because of their grades.

The Ruppert Educational Grant Program and The Curry Award for Girls and Young Women award students who show academic promise and improvement during the last high school or early college years, but who have a cumulative GPA of no more than 3.3. The Bobette Bibo Gugliotta Memorial Scholarship for Creative Writing scholarship does not have GPA requirements; however, it looks for applicants that are highly likely to succeed in college. Read all scholarship descriptions carefully to determine which eligibility criteria you meet and what program(s) you can apply for.

How are eligibility requirements determined?
Each individual, corporation or organization determines the eligibility criteria when the scholarship fund is established. However, before launching any scholarship program, SVCF’s board of directors reviews and approves the eligibility criteria to ensure that it is fair and non-discriminatory. Some scholarship funds support residents of a city or county; others are directed to students interested in a specific field of study. Although each scholarship takes financial need into consideration, some scholarships also focus on academic achievement, academic potential or community services. Find the scholarships that are right for you!

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How to apply

How do I apply to SVCF Managed Scholarships?
All applications for SVCF Managed Scholarships must be submitted through Apply SVCF, our online application system. 

  1. First, applicants (both new and returning) will need to register or login to Apply SVCF. New applicants will create a new account with your current email address. Previous applicants will reset your password by clicking “Forgot Password” and entering in your current email address. If you are a previous applicant with a new/different email address, please create a new account.
  2. Next, you'll need to complete or update your profile, which will allow our system to identify scholarships for which you may be eligible. When entering a phone number, international applicants should include their 3-digit country code. Country codes fewer than three digits should be preceded by zero (e.g. 086 for China).
  3. Then, return to the Apply SVCF main page, and see which scholarships are a match for you. Start completing each scholarship's online application. Please note: Some scholarships require a few additional questions to determine your eligibility - this will be indicated in the system when required. If you don’t see a scholarship that you believe you are eligible for, review the eligibility criteria and the answers in your profile and make necessary updates.  
  4. In addition to completing the scholarship application form, applicants are required to upload supporting application documents (personal statement, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, etc.), as outlined in the application instructions for each SVCF Managed Scholarship. View each scholarship's webpage for details.
  5. Save, review and finalize your application before submitting. Once you hit submit, you will not be able to make edits. 

How do I apply to Donor Involved Scholarships?
Each Donor Involved Scholarship varies. For scholarship details and application information, please contact the appropriate organization or individual listed in the description of each Donor Involved Scholarship. Applications for Donor Involved Scholarships are not accepted through Apply SVCF.

Can I apply for more than one scholarship?
Yes. You will be able to complete an application for each scholarship for which you are eligible after you update your profile.

Helpful Videos:

Apply SVCF - Login and Forgot Password

  • 0:48 – Forgot password
  • 1:25 – Password policy
  • 1:45 – New applicant registration

Apply SVCF - Home page

  • 1:25 – My Profile
  • 1:56 - Program Details

Apply SVCF - My Profile

  • 0:29 – General tab
  • 0:45 – Applicant information tab
  • 1:21 – Education tab
  • 1:34 – Extracurricular activities tab
  • 2:08 – Financial information tab
  • 2:56 – Feedback tab
  • 3:31 – Ready to apply – Scholarship Opportunities

Apply SVCF - Application Sections

  • 0:59 – Eligibility questionnaire
  • 1:39 – First four tabs auto-populate from My Profile
  • 2:20 – Financial Information tab
  • 2:46 – Required supporting documents tab
  • 5:33 – Additional criteria tab
  • 5:45 – Confirmation tab
  • 6:19 – Submitting application


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Using our online application system (“Apply SVCF”) to apply for select scholarships

How do I get started?
Go to our online application system, Apply SVCF, to apply for SVCF Managed Scholarships. To apply through the online system:

  1. First, applicants (both new and returning) will need to register and login to Apply SVCF.
  2. Next, you'll need to complete or update your profile, which will allow our system to identify scholarships for which you may be eligible. When entering a phone number, international applicants should include their 3-digit country code. Country codes fewer than three digits should be preceded by zero (e.g. 086 for China).
  3. Then, return to the Apply SVCF main page, and see which scholarships are a match for you. Start completing each scholarship's online application. Please note: Some scholarships require a few additional questions to determine your eligibility - this will be indicated in the system when required. If you don’t see a scholarship that you believe you are eligible for, review the eligibility criteria and the answers in your profile and make necessary updates.
  4. In addition to the scholarship application form, applicants are required to upload supporting application documents (personal statement, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, etc.), as outlined in the application instructions for each SVCF Managed Scholarship. View each scholarship's webpage for details.
  5. Save, review and finalize your application before submitting. Once you hit submit, you will not be able to make edits. 

I have logged into Apply SVCF – why can’t I apply to any scholarships?
To access available scholarship applications for which you are eligible, you must complete or update your profile first. Your profile will match you to scholarships for which you may be eligible.

I have updated my profile on Apply SVCF – now what?
Based on the information in your profile, our system will identify SVCF Managed Scholarships for which you may be eligible. If the system matches you to available scholarships, you will see the available application(s) on your homepage. You will need to review the detailed criteria of the scholarship to confirm that you meet all eligibility criteria. Once you have confirmed your eligibility, you will submit an application for each scholarship for which you are eligible.

I updated my profile on Apply SVCF and was not matched to any scholarships, but I meet all the eligibility criteria. What should I do?
If you think that you meet all of the eligibility requirements for one or more scholarships, but you were not matched to any programs, please contact our scholarships support team at scholarships@siliconvalleycf.org

I started my online application for a scholarship  how do I return to that saved application?
To access your existing application, login to Apply SVCF and go to the "My Scholarships" section on the lower left side of the homepage. All applications you've started will be saved in the "My Scholarships" section and can be opened there.

Please note: You cannot access your existing application in the "Scholarship Opportunities" section. Clicking “Apply” again will create a duplicate application!

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Application documents

What information or materials are needed to apply? 
For SVCF Managed Scholarships, applicants are required to provide:

  • Applicant Information – General information about you;
  • Education – Academic related information (current/future enrollment and goals);
  • Extracurricular Activities – Information on activities (school, community or work related) that you have been involved in, and any awards or honors you have received;
  • Financial Information – Information regarding finances for you and/or your family.

In addition, applicants will need to upload a personal statement, financial need documents (FAFSA, Student Aid Report or other), two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and (for certain scholarships) other documents, like employer verification. Each scholarship's application requirements are outlined on the scholarship's webpage

For Donor Involved Scholarships, application requirements vary. Please contact the organization or individual listed on each scholarship's webpage for details.

If I am applying for multiple scholarships do I have to submit separate required attachments for each program? 
Yes. In most cases you will be able to use the same documents, but you will need to re-attach them to each program that you are matched to. Nevertheless, you should pay close attention to each program’s specific instructions because in some cases the required attachments and the nature of the personal statement required may be different.

What kind of personal statement or essay do I need to write?
Your personal statement should address the prompts noted in the application instructions for each scholarship, and should make a strong case for why you are the best candidate for the scholarship(s) for which you are applying. Statements should adhere to the required word count (see each scholarship's webpage for details). 

Can I use a copy of a letter of recommendation that was written for another scholarship or for my college application?
Yes. However, the letter must be for the current academic year.

How do I submit my letters of recommendation?
There are two ways to submit your letters of recommendation: 

  • Option 1: Obtain the two letters of recommendation from your recommenders as PDFs and upload them yourself to your Apply SVCF application; or 
     
  • Option 2: Have your recommenders submit the letters themselves. First, you'll need to include the names and email addresses of your two recommenders in your Apply SVCF application (be sure to ask recommenders before providing their information). Then, we will email your recommenders and request that they submit their letters to us directly. 

Note: Regardless of your submission method, it is your responsibility to ensure letters are submitted by the deadline! 

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Updating your contact information

I moved. How do I update my contact information?
To update your contact information, login to the online application portal and update your profile. Be sure that your mailing address, home address, phone numbers and preferred email address are up to date. When updating a phone number, international applicants should include their 3-digit country code. Country codes fewer than three digits should be preceded by zero (e.g. 086 for China).

Please also notify our scholarships support team at scholarships@siliconvalleycf.org. This is important because regular notifications will be sent out via email. We may also need to contact you directly by phone if we have any questions about your application or required attachments.

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Scholarship award payments

When will I be notified if I receive a scholarship?
Most notifications will be emailed between May and June. We highly recommend you refer to the specific program’s timeline. You can also track the status of your application by logging into the application portal.

If I am awarded a scholarship, do I get the check?
No, it is against SVCF’s policies to pay scholarships directly to students. Should you be awarded, scholarship payments will be sent to your college financial aid office after you submit verification of admission or enrollment and the Scholarship Acceptance and Agreement form through the online portal.

Can I postpone the payment of my scholarship?
Yes, but only for one-time scholarships. Renewable scholarships cannot be postponed. Also, if you defer payments, all future payments are contingent upon satisfactory financial market performance and available assets in the particular scholarship fund. Scholarships can only be held for the duration of your undergraduate studies.

Are scholarships taxable?
For degree-seeking students who use scholarships for tuition, fees, books and required supplies, the scholarships are usually not taxable. However, any portions of scholarships used for room and board, travel, or miscellaneous expenses are usually taxable. Silicon Valley Community Foundation recommends that you and your parents consult a tax expert for advice.

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Renewable scholarships

If I receive a scholarship one year, will I automatically receive an award the following year?
No. Some scholarships are renewable, provided that recipients meet renewal eligibility requirements, and some scholarships allow prior recipients to reapply in competition with other applicants. Should you be awarded, your award letter will inform you if your scholarship is renewable.

I am receiving a renewable scholarship, how do I request my renewal scholarship?
You do not need to request your scholarship.  Renewal students will receive an email notification in May with instructions on completing the Renewal Scholarship Form through the online application system.

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Thank you notes

If I want to send a thank you note, where do I send it?
We encourage all recipients to send thank you notes. Scholarship recipients will have the opportunity to submit a thank you note electronically when the scholarship award is claimed through the online Scholarship Acceptance and Agreement Form. The thank you notes are shared with scholarship committee members and the donors who established the scholarship funds.

All other thank you notes can be addressed to Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Attn: Scholarships, 2440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300, Mountain View, California 94040.

What should I include in my thank you note?
To write an informative and thoughtful scholarship thank you note, be sure to include: Your first and last name, the name of the scholarship program you wish to thank, where you will enroll this upcoming term, how this scholarship will impact your educational goals, and anything about yourself or family that you would like to share.

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Find scholarships based on other criteria:

For students from or studying in the Greater Bay Area of California
For international students
For non-U.S. citizens (includes A.B. 540, DACA and U.S. legal residents)
State specific
School specific
Field-of-study specific
Gender specific
Employer specific

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Other resources

Where can I find other resources about financial aid or scholarships?
Check out our list of resources for scholarship seekers and college students.

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Coronavirus Scholarships Updates

Important resources during this time

SVCF COVID-19 funds
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID-19 website
World Health Organization (WHO)

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How to best contact SVCF Scholarships staff during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Please keep in mind that our physical offices are closed. Email is best, but leave a voicemail if you wish to receive a call back. Scholarships staff can be reached via scholarships@siliconvalleycf.org or 650.450.5487 from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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Required documents and application updates

Letter of Recommendation updates

Due to school closures, emails to Letter of Recommendation (LOR) writers may be not be read; likewise, requests from our ApplySVCF portal may be bounced back. Please contact your LOR writers directly to ensure your letter requests were received.

Letters of recommendation do not need to be on official letterhead at this time. Letters submitted without official letterhead will be accepted.

If recommenders have challenges uploading their letters, request a secure upload link by emailing us at scholarships@siliconvalleycf.org.

Letters of reference only need to contain the following:

  • Page limit of two pages
  • Include school or organization's name in the title or body of letter
  • Date within one year of the application deadline
  • Signatures may be replaced with LOR writer’s contact information (email and phone number)

The body of the letter should include:

  • Your relationship to the applicant
  • The length of time you have known the individual
  • Why you recommend the applicant for this particular scholarship
  • Why you believe they will be successful in their academic goals
  • Any additional information about the individual that should be considered

High school transcript updates

Due to public health measures, we encourage students to request transcripts 4 weeks in advance rather than the traditional 2 weeks to ensure delivery before the deadline.

Helpful tips:

  • Please upload transcripts to your application. We no longer need transcripts to be physically mailed. We will, however, continue to check our mail for copies of required documents for students who choose to mail transcripts.
  • If you are a current college student and your high school requires you to receive transcripts in person, we will waive this requirement. In place of a high school transcript, upload a note or document that confirms your high school’s policy and a copy of your high school diploma.
  • We encourage you to contact your school district for school closure updates.

College transcript updates

Helpful tips:

  • Access your college online portal and upload college transcripts as one PDF document to your application(s). Additional documents and transcript pages may be uploaded to the "Confirmation" tab of each of your submitted application(s).
  • Send only your most recent transcripts. Do not mail a duplicate official copy to our office as our physical offices are currently closed.

2020 – 2021 Student Aid Report (FAFSA and CA Dream Act) updates

Due to the current pandemic, please expect delays for your submitted information to be processed and returned to you.

Helpful tips:

  • Submit your FAFSA or CA Dream Act as soon as possible to be processed. Processing usually takes 3-14 business days, but please allow 3-4 weeks due to the pandemic.
  • Please visit the FAFSA and CA Dream Act pages for any coronavirus updates

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How to prepare for virtual interviews

  • Dress in "business professional" attire
  • Come prepared with questions and be prepared to speak about your submitted application
  • Practice using your computer’s video in order to get comfortable speaking to a webcam
  • Use a virtual background or a plain wall background
  • Required Documents will need to be submitted a few days before your interview. If your scholarship requires an interview, we will be requesting the following, which can be obtained in your university acceptance package or online portal:
    • Fall 2020 Class Schedule OR Letter of Acceptance (for incoming freshmen and transfer students)
    • Financial Award Package including your total cost of attendance, scholarships, work study and loans
    • If you are unable to find your current Cost of Attendance, you can often find it on your university’s general webpage. For example, San Jose State posts their Cost of Attendance for each school year as a downloadable pdf
  • How to log in to a Zoom meeting

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Working from home: do’s & don'ts

Students & families working from home

Students living on campus

  • Check with your university if they have emergency loans available for technology or a rental equipment policy
  • Dorms and working in public spaces with social distancing: keep 6 - 10 feet of distance between yourself and other persons in public spaces, and above all, limit your time in public as much as possible

Mental health resources

  • Occasionally disconnect from the constant news cycle: “Limiting daily news consumption may be wise”
  • Acknowledge anxiety, schedule worrying, reframe the situation, set quarantine rituals, stay active to your ability, perform acts of social good
  • Check with your insurance provider what counseling or therapy options are available

Stress-management resources

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Food and shelter in-place resources

Local food bank resources for Families

  • Santa Clara County & San Mateo County
  • Many school districts are providing food services for high school students and their families – please visit your school district website
  • Use Feeding America or other aggregators to search for local food resources
  • News from some Bay Area food banks

Local food bank resources for college students far from home

  • Many college campuses have weekly food donations open to students – ask your Resident Services department
  • Practice social distancing and minimize your food shopping by exploring free recipes for ingredients you have on hand
  • Food prep resources
    • Try fresh fruits and vegetables delivery or food prep meals
    • Consider delivery options for groceries and prepared meals
    • Check if local farmer’s markets are still open as essential services
    • Be sure to clean your groceries
  • Social distancing with shared dorm kitchen and living/recreation spaces
    • Take turns using space
    • Engage in regular cleaning
    • Wash hands, avoid uncovered coughing and sneezing, touching face
    • Organized and limit the amount of stuff out that could be contaminated
  • Isolation resources to stay connected

Temporary housing for homeless & housing-insecure

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Bay Area resources

Santa Clara County resources

San Mateo County resources

High school students & families

Check out school district websites for school and administrative Updates - many have a dedicated COVID-19 page. Here are some examples:

Coronavirus Resources from Education Week

College students living on campus & families

  • Check out your college website for administrative updates - many have a COVID-19 page where you can apply to stay on campus if your school is closing
  • Financial Aid Offices can provide information about loans and scholarship updates
  • Bursars Offices can provide information about payment received before it is reported to the Financial Aid Office and displayed on your online portal
  • You may ask for a Cost of Attendance Adjustment Form with your University to adjust your cost of living and request additional funding
  • National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators COVID-19 web center. Here you can find updates on financial aid.
  • If you're a college student affected by coronavirus or the parent of one, here's some helpful information
  • Coronavirus and colleges: here's what to know about refunds, work study and financial aid as campuses close

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State of California resources

  • Governor Information and Legislation Updates with information on applying for unemployment, paid sick leave, disability
  • Food bank resources and volunteering
  • Philanthropic resources by county
  • If you are equipped to, here's how to donate medical supplies to healthcare providers in the Bay Area and around the country
  • Searchable County Public Health updates
  • If think you might be sick, please use one of these helpful tools first:
    • Find your insurance 24/7 Advice Nurse Line on your health insurance website to check for symptoms and if you need to schedule a doctor appointment
    • Many medical groups have an Online Symptoms Assessment you can take. Sutter Health for example has an online symptom checker
  • Covered California enrollment has been re-opened for a special enrollment period
  • How to file for unemployment in CA
    • Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March executive order waived the usual one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can apply right away. Officials encourage applying online for the quickest response.
    • LA Times guide
    • Labor website COVID-19 page
  • Californians may be voting by mail in the coming elections so check with your local county

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