How to Provide Proof of Scholarship Financial Need?

Six best ways to provide evidence of scholarship financial need when applying for scholarship & grants for students in Jamaica & the Caribbean
Six best ways to provide evidence of scholarship financial need when applying for scholarship & grants for students in Jamaica & the Caribbean

Providing proof of a financial need in Jamaica when applying for scholarships is very tricky! Proof of financial need in the eyes of scholarship donors is fluid and varies depending on the organizations’ policies. After interviewing and obtaining insights from some of Jamaica’s largest scholarship and grant donors, I have composed the following criteria on proof of financial need in scholarship application for Jamaican awards.

I will be discussing the general understanding and rules relating to how, a scholarship applicant, can effectively and convincingly prove their financial need. My suggestions are in beta form, meaning – they are fluid (just like the decision makers) and can be improved. Please feel free to share with other factors that may help the decision making by donors.

Definition of Financial Need

A financial need is the difference between your Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). It is the amount of a student’s total cost of attendance that isn’t covered by the expected family contribution or outside grants and scholarships. You as the student must demonstrate financial need to be eligible for need-based financial assistance programs. its vital to outline that most Jamaican scholarships are need-based!

Cost of Attendance

The Cost of Attendance (COA) refers to the total amount of education expenses (tuition, books and school supplies, housing and dining, personal expenses, transportation expenses, etc.) during a specific academic year. The COA is best illustrated with school vouchers, rent receipts, personal expenses and transportation expenses budget.

Expected Family Contribution

The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of money that results from the financial information provided from your (or your parents) bank accounts and/or pay stubs or employment letter for employed applicants.

The EFC is basically the measure of your family’s financial strength, and how much of your university/college costs it can cover. This is calculated in Jamaica based on various means, which includes proven taxed and untaxed income, assets, your address and benefits, as well as the size of your family and the number of family members attending school during the year.

General Guidelines Involved in Providing Your Scholarship Financial Need Evidence

Student Status Letter

A Status Letter from your school that indicates your balances, fees for upcoming year plus additional costs.

Status letters are sometimes referred to as ‘Proof of Student Status’. They are particularly useful for students wishing to open student bank accounts or proving your student status for receipt of benefits, scholarships, sponsorship, visa application and for student loan application, and as proof of financial need in Jamaica, just to name a few.

A status letter confirms a student’s full name (as noted on their student record), date of birth, course title, faculty, registration date, completion date, home address and term dates. Additionally, with proper instructions, the Status Letter can show the students tuition cost or balances, academic fees and auxiliary expenses. To provide assurance regarding the validity of status letters to external agencies and individuals, the letters are required to be signed by an appropriate university/college/high school administrator and stamped with the Registrars stamp.

Did you Apply for Other Scholarships or Grants?

Applications Made for several other grants or scholarships .

Scholarship applicants sometimes are asked to indicate if they are the recipient of other scholarship or grant awards within the same academic year. Other donors may ask if you have applied for other awards and the value of those awards. Yes, I agree! This doesn’t mean you will be awarded the scholarships you have applied for, but the donor needs this information to juxtapose with other applicants.

Disclosure of Current Funding

Disclosure of Current Funding – Parents, SLB, Grants, JAMVAT, Personal financing

How are you currently covering the cost of your education? Or how are you planning to cover the cost of tuition and other academic expenses in regards to first year students. This is basically what this section is trying to ascertain.

Sometimes this information would be identified from your application form, essay or reference or recommendation letters. Therefore, it is essential to include your financial challenges in your essays. Write the essay in a manner that captures information about your financial situation.

Secondly, when you request a reference letter, explain to your reference the purpose of the letter and ask that it speaks not only to your character and academics but also includes your financial circumstances/challenges.

From the above media, it should indicate whether you received – will receive or plan to personally finance your tuition and related expenses. Will you be the recipient of grants both private or governmental – PATH or JAMVAT programmes, or a student loan or other scholarships.

Financial Need Recommendation Letters

In requesting a recommendation or reference letter, as mentioned before, ask the recommender to include information about your financial hardships that you face as well as reference to your character, academics and any other required references. make sure you are requesting reference and recommendation form legitimate individuals such as a Pastor, Attorney, Doctor, Teacher/lecture, Principal, a manager, community or club leader to name a few.

That Winning Essay

The most effective scholarship application essay that you can composed is one that adheres to the direction or instruction of the essay requirements. Do this, while highlighting your financial need and financial hardship that you or your family faces. You can accomplish this, with strategic mentions throughout the essay. Don’t make the essay about your financial hardship!

Additionally, some scholarship application offers a section for you to add or give additional information that you deem pertinent to your scholarship application. Take this opportunity to highlight your personal or family financial hardship or need.

Account in Arrears! – Turn Lime to Lemonade!

Are you a student with tuition arrears? This is a great opportunity, sounds weird, but it is a – turn Lime into lemonade episode!

This is the perfect statement of financial need in Jamaica. How better can it get? With tuition arrears, you may have difficulty obtaining a status letter, but you can print a copy of your student account balances that shows the outstanding fees and grades. Print it and attach it to your scholarship application.

Sometimes I find people who are in this situation then to shy away from applying for some of the scholarship offers, because they can’t get a status letter or even Transcript

R. Palmer

Having arrears doesn’t exclude you form applying and wining local scholarships and grants. On the contrary, its your competitive advantage. Owing money on your tuition will indicate your difficulty to meet your financial needs as it relates to your tuition and school expenses.

 maybe this ‘bad’ financial situation could heighten their application in terms of need (especially for financial need scholarships), because they think it’s bad, but it actually could be ‘good’ in setting them up to access funds as a prioritized candidate.

R. Palmer

However, I am not recommending that you create an arrears on your tuition in order to prove financial need. Yu MAD! That’s not what this is for.  It is not recommended to be in arrears as this risk de-registration and for you to incur addition fees leading to you missing out on a great academic opportunity.

Instead, work to pay off all your tuition and fees with scholarships, grants and barrows (where possible). See “How I made it through university debt free” by Solomon Perkins for additional strategies.


Use these suggestions as a guide to prepare an effective proof of financial need document and strategy. Proof of financial need is one of the most important requirements along with high GPAs in winning local scholarships and grants.

For students who are submitting a Scholarship Request Letter, the above will work for you as well.


How to Provide Proof of Scholarship Financial Need in Jamaica?
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How to Provide Proof of Scholarship Financial Need in Jamaica?
Providing evidence of financial need for scholarship applications in Jamaica is very difficult. These are the best strategies in providing evidence of financial need on your scholarship applications.
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