Scholarships are made possible through generous donations. A well-written thank you letter is an important way to acknowledge the funding you have received and gives the donor the opportunity to learn about you. The following tips and sample letter may be helpful for writing your own thank you letter.
Tips for writing your thank you letter:
- Begin your letter with Dr., Ms., Mr., or Mrs. as appropriate. Do not address the individual by his/her first name. Only use “Dear Donor” or “Dear Benefactor” in cases where the award letter instructs you to do so, such as when writing to an anonymous donor.
- Acknowledge the scholarship you have received by referencing the full name of the scholarship in your first sentence.
- Include your mailing address and email address if you would like to give the donor the opportunity to respond.
- Do not include your Penn State Student ID number.
- Make it personal. Donors believe that both they and you are making a difference in the world. They are interested in hearing about you.
- Avoid confrontational topics such as political, religious, spiritual, or cultural viewpoints. Do not assume that the donor’s viewpoints/preferences are the same as yours.
- We ask that you write a new thank you letter for each year that you continue to receive a scholarship. If you receive funding from the same donor in previous years, update them on your academic plans, your extra-curricular activities, and your career goals. Let them know what you have accomplished this year and how their funding helped make that possible.
Sample Letter Format
1 Campus Road
University Park, PA 16802
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith,
I am honored to be the recipient of The Smith Family Scholarship for Academic Excellence. Thank you so much for your kind generosity to Penn State and the university community.
Body of the letter
Think about who you are writing to! Tell the donor about the specific ways in which their support has helped you reach your professional and educational goals. Did the money allow you to take advantage of an internship? Study abroad? Perform research? Did the support help your family deal with difficult financial burdens? Did the award help validate your course of study or help you remain in a course of study that resulted in your major, or different career plans? Even if the amount of support was only a part of what was needed, can you comment on how successful a year you have had, and how the support had something to do with it? Tell the donor about you as a person. What are your interests and goals (inside and outside the classroom)? Where are you from? Why is Penn State important to you, how has it influenced you?
Tell the donor about the impact of their gift today and as you see it potentially affecting your future. What are your plans after graduation? Are you starting a job, going to graduate school, or volunteering? Are you traveling, moving to a specific place, or starting a family? Even if graduation is still a ways off, what do you hope will happen, and how have your academic plans been shaped by the aid of the donor(s)?
If you are ready to submit your letter, you can submit it to us by:
Mail or in-person:
Office of Student Aid Attn: Scholarships
314 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802