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5 tips for a winning scholarship application

AOPA scholarship deadline April 2

We are giving away more than $1 million in scholarships—the most in AOPA’s history. Make sure you apply for a piece of the pie before April 2!

AOPA flight training scholarships available.

The You Can Fly scholarships are for primary and advanced flight training students, high schoolers who want to learn to fly, and teachers who want to introduce aviation in their classrooms. And the application deadline is fast approaching!

No matter which scholarship you are applying for, here are five tips from Táz Thomas, our scholarship program manager, to help make your application stand out from the rest.

  1. Complete the application. OK, you might be thinking that sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by the number of applications we receive that are incomplete. And incomplete applications are dismissed. Make sure to read and respond to each item carefully. For example, the application asks if you are related to an “AOPA employee.” Many applicants incorrectly read that as “AOPA member” and incorrectly select “yes.” This automatically disqualifies them, because the scholarships aren’t open to family members of employees. That’s a mistake Thomas has seen frequently. So, if you’re going to take time to apply, take the time to complete every aspect of the application carefully.
  2. Make your bio shine. This is the area to showcase your passion for aviation, including your aviation goals. We know you want to live, eat, and sleep aviation, but we also know there’s more to you than flying. So, highlight how well-rounded you are through your extracurricular and volunteer activities, for example.
  3. Make sure your references turn their recommendations in on time. Put a lot of thought into who you want to ask to be references, and follow up with them to make sure they submit their recommendations on time. The deadline is April 2, and no material will be accepted after that point. Recommendations that aren’t in by the deadline will automatically disqualify an applicant. While we are on the topic of references—make sure you pick individuals who will provide a passionate recommendation for you! Oh, and give them enough time to write that glowing recommendation. They won’t be notified by AOPA to submit a recommendation until you have submitted your application, so don’t wait until the last minute.
  4. Tell us what you will do to learn to fly if you don’t earn a scholarship or if you need to supplement your scholarship to complete training. You might be thinking that sharing other avenues of funding available for your flight training could hurt your chances of earning a scholarship. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Explaining other funds that you have available for learning to fly, whether other scholarships, money you have saved, or extra jobs you would work, shows us an important aspect of your character that is important in aviation: having a plan. “People who have a plan show that they are organized and plan for the future,” says Thomas. Simply answering, “I don’t know,” won’t cut it.
  5. Explain your long-term aviation goals. Here’s a hint: This should be longer than one sentence! “We need to see their passion through their application,” Thomas says. If you want to be a professional pilot or fly for fun and share the love of flight with others, great—just explain why and let us see the excitement inside you.

Good luck! We look forward to reading your scholarship application. If you have any questions about the scholarships or the application process, please send us an email at [email protected], and we’ll get back to you!

You Can Fly scholarships are made possible by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation, including a $1 million grant from the Ray Foundation for high school and teacher scholarships.

Alyssa J. Miller
Alyssa J. Cobb
The former senior director of digital media, Alyssa J. Cobb was on the AOPA staff from 2004 until 2023. She is a flight instructor, and loves flying her Cessna 170B with her husband and two children. Alyssa also hosts the weekly Fly with AOPA show on the AOPA Pilot Video YouTube channel.
Topics: You Can Fly, AOPA Foundation, Scholarship

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