The journey to the CFA Charter is long and grueling, requiring candidates to pass three levels of the rigorous CFA Exam, among other requirements. However, one challenge begins even before the first Exam: the cost. The process itself can be rather costly, a significant burden for many aspiring charterholders. The good news is that there are many sources of financial aid to help you pay for the CFA exam and associated costs, including scholarships. This article offers tips on how to get CFA scholarships.
1. Do Your Research
From scholarships to grants, the Internet is full of websites that offer advice on getting free money for various academic and professional advancement pursuits. If you are considering signing up for the CFA Exam but are concerned about the cost, take some time to research what financial assistance you might be eligible for. Carefully review each CFA scholarship to determine the award criteria – and how likely you might be to receive it.
2. Submit a Complete Application
Each scholarship will undoubtedly have extensive submission requirements as part of the application process. Review them carefully, and be sure to gather all the required documentation, including transcripts and letters of recommendation to submit a complete application. Many scholarship committees will flat out reject an application if it is incomplete; they often have to consider way too many candidates to waste time on an incomplete application.
3. Deadlines Count!
Many scholarships will have two deadlines—Early and Standard. To give yourself your best chance of success, submit your application by the early deadlines so that you are ahead of the rest of the other candidates competing for the same scholarship. Make sure you have everything needed for submission well in advance of the deadlines.
Because of the high volume of applications, most scholarship committees will not consider even completed applications submitted after the deadline.
4. Tell a Compelling Story
A major factor in winning a competitive scholarship in a sea full of candidates is your ability to stand out. That typically boils down to telling your story via an essay. Is it authentic? Is it compelling? What makes you unique? Be sure that your (true) story checks these boxes; avoid telling generic things about yourself that other candidates are likely to include in their stories. Also, avoid repeating things the scholarship committee can find on your resume, transcripts, or letters of recommendation.
Instead, dare to be a bit vulnerable; if you have some major life obstacle or tribulation that you have overcome to get to this point in your career, by all means, share it. Also, articulate what financial burdens you face and how the CFA scholarship will help you fulfill your career goals or realize your dream. If you are determined to endure the CFA journey over the next four-plus years, with the only uncertainty you face being the lack of financial resources to go the distance, then make sure you communicate that when telling your story.
5. Apply to as Many as Possible
In some ways, earning a scholarship for any academic or professional pursuit is a numbers game. The truth is that you probably need just one scholarship award to satisfy the financial requirements for registering and preparing for the CFA Exams. So, cast a wide net to maximize your chances of landing the one that would make all the difference for your CFA Charter goals.
Submit applications to as many as possible, especially those with similar eligibility criteria or requirements. A good practice is to identify the top ten scholarships that you have a realistic chance of getting and submit a complete application to each one.
We wish you the best of luck applying to CFA scholarships to help you pay for the CFA Exam and third-party review courses. We also invite you to apply to our UWorld Career Advancement Scholarship. Our scholarship is designed to elevate outstanding, academically advanced college students facing financial limitations by offering tuition assistance and prep materials to pass the CFA® Level I exam.