Private Scholarships

Private scholarships are free funds from sources outside of WMU. Scholarships that are received from a private source must be reported to the financial aid office and must be factored in to existing student financial aid offers. The receipt of additional scholarships may result in the reduction or cancellation of other aid to remain in compliance with federal financial aid regulations.

Searching for private scholarships

Admitted Broncos have access to the ScholarshipUniverse tool, in which students can answer questions that will help match them to internal and external scholarships they may qualify for. Students are encouraged to use this tool to aid in their scholarship search and application process.

How to connect your private scholarships to WMU

Scholarships should be sent to Student Financial Aid, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, Mail Stop 5337, with the student's name and Western Identification Number (WIN) on the check or in an accompanying letter. Scholarship check(s) should be made payable to Western Michigan University so that funds may be credited directly to the student's University bill.

If the donor specifies what semester(s) the offer is for, WMU will follow their wishes. If the donor letter does not specify a distribution schedule, offers larger than $500 will be split with half in the fall and half in the spring.

If a student wants the scholarship distributed in a way that differs from what the donor requests, the student will be asked to get an authorization letter from the donor.

If the scholarship has been split and the donor has not given instructions, the student may request the entire offer be moved to the fall semester. However, the student is then cautioned that he or she may be short of funds for the spring semester.

Student quote

  • I don't know what my life would have been like if I didn't have the opportunity to come here. I feel like I wouldn't have been the person or leader that I am today.

    Jessica Cortes, B.S.'22, M.S.W.'23, first-generation student and Foundation Scholar

Helpful tips on how to get private scholarships

1. Start your search early.

High school seniors are advised to begin searching for private scholarships a year before they will begin classes. Generally, scholarship applications open in October and close by the end of March.


2. Do your research.

You don't have to pay to find free money for college, and you should never provide private information such as your Social Security number or bank information when applying for a scholarship. Try to make sure all scholarships you consider are legitimate opportunities.


3. Stay organized.

It can be confusing to keep track of scholarship opportunities. Students engaging in a serious scholarship search might consider creating a new, free email account to search and apply to avoid clogging their own personal or new college email with scholarship communications. Creating a spreadsheet of scholarship opportunities can be helpful. Such a document might include the name of the scholarship, offer amounts, the website where the application can be accessed, deadlines for applying, components of the application and requirements for renewal, if applicable. Be sure to keep a copy, paper or electronic, of the scholarships for which you submit, and follow up with the awarding organization if you don't hear back in a timely manner.


4. Prepare a resume.

Many scholarships ask for the same information: extracurricular activities, involvement in clubs and organizations, work history, etc. Compile all of this up-to-date information before you begin to apply, and you will save time completing your applications.


5. Craft a general essay.

Some scholarships will ask students to submit an essay for consideration. The content of the essay is important, but the grammar and writing style can also play a factor when scholarship committees review your application. It may be helpful to write one essay that discusses why you would like to attend college, a challenge you have overcome and your future career goals. Edit and refine this one essay and adapt it to work for as many scholarship applications as you can.


6. Be patient.

Most scholarship decisions won't be made until the spring, and offers usually come in April or May.



7. Send letters of appreciation.

Though not required in all cases, if you are offered a scholarship, it is always a good idea to write a letter to the organization to express gratitude and communicate how the offer will help with your education and future goals.


8. Don't stop.

If you need additional funds for college, don't stop applying until you finish your degree! Though it can be work, small awards add up, and in the long run, you will need to borrow less for your education!


More funding opportunities

  • Federal student grants: A federal student grant is a type of financial aid that you don’t have to pay back. They come in the form of the federal Pell Grant, the federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant and the federal TEACH Grant.

  • Institutional scholarships: Scholarships and grants are types of financial aid that do not need to be repaid. They are a great way to pay for your education and may reduce the need for student loans.

  • Kalamazoo Promise: Western is a proud partner of the Kalamazoo Promise, a private scholarship foundation that offers scholarships to students who attended Kalamazoo Public Schools.

  • Veterans and military grants: We offer our veterans and active military funding sources in the forms of grants, state tuition and commission through the University's ROTC program. We also provide a list of veterans affairs benefits.