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2024 Scholarship Season now open!

Apply Now

It's Scholarship Season

The Holyoke Community College Foundation offers more than $300,000 in life-changing scholarships each year to new, current, and transfer students. This is money that our students never have to pay back. Scholarship awards can be spent on tuition, books and supplies, and other resources depending on the award and amount.

Applications accepted: January 29, 2024 - March 8, 2024

  • With a scholarship, students can focus on learning instead of worrying about tuition or associated costs.
  • Scholarships are student aid you do not have to pay back! This means you graduate with less - or in some cases - no debt. 
  • We have many scholarships based on financial need, academic excellence, student leadership, and/or community service. Not all scholarships are solely based on financial need.
  1. Complete the scholarship application. (Now Available - Apply Below)
    (The system will match you with all scholarships you are eligible for, based on the information you provide in your application).
  2. Need help with the essay? Essay writing workshops are listed below in resources. 
  3. Transferring? We have scholarships for students transferring to a four-year institution. Transfer students are encouraged to apply!

Apply Now

What's Next?
  • Notification of the upcoming scholarship cycle will be sent via email in early January 2024 for the 2024-2025 academic year.
  • Note: Notifications will be sent to recipients' HCC emails.
  • Look below for scholarship opportunities from external sources.
Scholarship Resources

getting started

How can I access the scholarship application?

In order to access the scholarship application you must be an HCC student with an active HCC email address. You can access the application here. Sign in using your HCC credentials.

If you are having problems signing in, you can contact the IT Help Desk at 413.552.2075 or

Can I apply if I don't have an HCC email address?

All applicants must be an HCC student with an HCC email address. If you are a new accepted student, please reach out to the admissions office to verify that you have an HCC email address.


Who is eligible for an HCC Foundation scholarship?

Any current or accepted HCC student who has an HCC email address.

How many applications do I need to fill out?

Fill out one simple general scholarship application. The system will match you with scholarships for which you may be eligible based on the information you provide in your application. After completing the general application, you can browse additional "apply to" scholarships for which you may be qualified (these additional scholarships will show on your dashboard after you do the general application).

Can I save my application and come back later?

Yes. You can save and keep editing your application by "Updating General Application" at the bottom of the form.

How will I receive my scholarship award?

Your offer will be emailed to your HCC email address. The email will have instructions on how to accept your award. You will also see a status beside scholarship applications on the "Home" tab displayed as "Offered." Once all requirements have been met, your award will be applied to your fall and spring bills 30 days after the beginning of the semester.

When will I know if I have or have not received a scholarship award?

All students will receive notification whether or not they have received an award by the end of the semester.

Can international students apply?

Yes, however, scholarships awarded will be based on in-state tuition.

How do I provide a reference?

A reference is optional and will only add to your application; you will not be penalized for not providing one. If you do choose to provide a reference, you will be prompted to enter the individual's full name and email address. It is an expectation that you respectfully request permission to use an individual as a reference prior to entering their contact information. Once the contact information is entered, an email will be immediately sent to the individual with a link to complete a reference questionnaire.

Can I change my reference contact?

Yes. Sign in to your application and go to your General Application. You can add a new reference provider by "Add New Reference" in the reference question. You can resend a request to an existing reference by going to "References" and hitting resend.

How can I tell if my reference has been submitted?

Once you sign in, please click the "Home" tab and then the "References" box. You have the option to resend your request for reference.

What if I don't qualify for financial aid?

If you don't qualify for financial aid, attach a copy of the first two pages of the most recent head of household tax return.

What if I am transferring?

There are a number of scholarships for students who are transferring – so please still apply!

What if I am a part-time student?

Our scholarships often have a minimum number of credits being taken each semester, with some as low as six credits.

Can I change my reference contact?

Yes. Sign in to your application and click on "References." You can resend a request for a reference or enter a new reference.

Entering Essays

All scholarships require an essay between 250 to 500 words. The Dwight Writing Center offers a series of workshops on writing an essay for your scholarship application. Please call 413.552.2599 or drop in DON 238 for more information. You can find some helpful tips by going to Tips for Writing a Scholarship Essay dropdown on this page.

FAFSA Application

New and continuing HCC students are encouraged to complete the most recent Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online. After you complete your FAFSA, you will receive a link to access your SAR (Student Aid Report) within five business days of filing. HCC's school code is 002170. For questions about the FAFSA application, please visit our financial aid page.

Can I apply for a scholarship every year?

Yes! Receiving a scholarship does not prevent you from applying again next year.

FAFSA: Any student applying for financial aid from the government needs to fill out the free application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. The online form offers some benefits to the paper version, such as ensuring that no information is missing or conflicting before the applicant submits the form.

Your personal essay gives you the chance to show the scholarship committees what makes you unique!

A strong essay will include: personal, professional, and educational accomplishments (what you have done); aspirations (what do you hope to do); and how scholarship support will help you. Here are some tips to help you write your essay:

  • Read essay instructions carefully. Make sure you understand exactly what is being asked of you.
  • Brainstorm ideas. Write your ideas down in an organized fashion in preparation before you begin your essay.
  • Prepare an outline. Before you begin writing your essay, prepare an outline. Your outline should address each element identified in the essay instructions.
  • Develop outline points. Begin your essay by expanding on each point identified in your outline.
  • Write clearly. Use clear, concise, and simple language throughout the essay.
  • Tell us about yourself. Describe your greatest successes, accomplishments, and personal achievements. Include educational, career, and/or personal goals, significant obstacles you have overcome, personal and financial needs that are unique to you, and any special circumstances that have had a significant impact on your academic performance.
  • Proofread your essay. Check and double-check your essay to correct any spelling mistakes, typos, and grammatical errors. 

HCC's Dwight Writing Center offers a series of workshops for students who need help with the essay. Please call 413.552.2599 or drop in at DON 238 for more information

the importance of thanking your donor

You will be required to take some time to compose a short thank-you, which you will include as part of your acceptance of the scholarship. Your thank-you should be sincere and should express your appreciation for the award and the impact it will have on your life. The tone should be formal but pleasant, and the body of the letter should run no more than a couple of well-written paragraphs.

Scholarship donors are generous, caring people who give to support the educational endeavors of students like you. Receiving a well-written thank-you note and video from a student is a special touch that lets the donor know that their scholarship is greatly appreciated. Your words of gratitude remind them why they gave in the first place, and often help to secure continuing gifts for future students. You can find information on the donors.

include in your thank-you
  • Express your appreciation for the scholarship and the impact it has had on you and your family ("Thank you for making this scholarship possible" or "Your scholarship makes it possible for me to concentrate more fully on my courses")
  • Add a personal statement - give the donor a sense of who you are, what you have overcome to attend college, your personal and/or professional goals, etc. 
  • Please note that the donor did not select you as the recipient, but provided the funds for the scholarship, i.e. "Thanks for making the {name of scholarship} possible..."
  • Be genuine and speak from your heart!
  • Check spelling and grammar after you have completed your thank-you note

The following are some sample letters. Do not copy them word for word – use them only as examples, and remember to make your thank-you personal.

Aidan Whitely, recipient of the Shirley and John Fallon Scholarship

To the generous donors responsible for the Shirley and John Fallon Scholarship, I am more grateful than you will ever know. As a young man growing up I've always had one dream to one day work in the medical field with kinesiology and I will continue to push and follow my dreams every day. Words can't express how grateful I am to be able to receive this award, especially growing up with my younger sister and my mother being our primary caregiver. I can't wait to tell my mother that I've been chosen to receive this ward and that all my handwork is starting to pay off. Once again thank you to the donors of the Shirley and John Fallon Scholarship for allowing students like me to follow their dreams, help them with our financial needs, and I will make sure to make the absolute best out of this opportunity and work towards my ultimate goal of being a kinesiologist in the future.

Emma Czarniecki, recipient of the Patricia L. Bonnet '82 Scholarship

To the donors of the Patricia L. Bonnet '82 Scholarship, I wish to express my utmost gratitude. I greatly appreciate your support towards furthering my education. I truly feel blessed to be given such an amazing opportunity to continue my education at such a giving, supportive college. I wish to thank the generous donor for their support in getting me to the next step in my life. I cannot wait to begin this next chapter, and your support puts me so much closer to achieving my dreams. I will make sure to make the most out of this wonderful opportunity and I will not forget your kindness and support. Thank you again for your generosity and I look forward to beginning this next step of my life where I can help others as you have helped me.

Angelica Gavrilov, recipient of the Panitch Family Scholarship

To the donors of the Panitch Family Scholarship, I wholeheartedly express my gratitude for being selected as a recipient of your scholarship! I am so grateful; this is a huge blessing to me. I grew up in a first generation, low-SES immigrant family and on top of that don't have my parents support in my educational journey. I don't receive financial support from them: so to be financially supported by the Panitch family brings warmth and a grin to my face. It means a lot and I can assure you, by investing into me, you are investing into the world bringing it one step closer to wholeness. Thank you for being the supportive family that I need! God bless you and may your giving always bring you much reward and delight.

Millions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed each year! Following is a list of resources to assist you in your search for scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Please be advised that these scholarship websites are not associated with the Holyoke Community College or the Holyoke Community College Foundation.

Community Foundation: The Community Foundation of Western Mass. administers, through one centralized application process, nearly 100 scholarship and loan funds.

University of Massachusetts Boston Foster Furcolo Transfer Scholarship: Awards two-year scholarships covering tuition and most mandatory fees to one graduate of each public community college in Massachusetts.

College Board: Connect student profiles to a database containing over 2,300 scholarships, internships, and loans.

Elks National Foundation: Elks National Foundation Scholarships A comprehensive site that has information on loans, scholarships, and saving plans. It even includes interactive calculators to help project what your child's college costs will be and how much you should be stashing away.

Fast Web: Matches student profiles to a database containing over 600,000 scholarships. Also, alert students to application deadlines or when new scholarships are added.

Varsity Tutors: Varsity Tutors holds a monthly $1,000 college scholarship contest where students write an essay responding to a monthly prompt. Visitors to the Varsity Tutors scholarship webpage can vote via social media for submitted entries. Varsity Tutors review the top five entries with the most votes at the end of the month and one winner is subsequently chosen to receive the $1,000 college scholarship.

Big Y: Awards for employees and customers.

GoCollege: In an ABC network 20/20 program about college scholarships, the ABC network explicitly pointed to GoCollege as a reliable source for scholarships.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund: The Hispanic Scholarship Fund is the largest Hispanic scholarship-granting organization in the nation. HSF provides financial assistance to outstanding Hispanic students in higher education throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

Accredited Schools Online: A free guidebook resource dedicated to helping minority students navigate the often-challenging issues of financial aid, scholarships, and college affordability. Scholarship database of 3,000 sources worth up to $3 billion.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation: Harry S. Truman Scholars

Nordson BUILDS Scholarship Program: Scholarships are targeted at students who live or attend school near a Nordson facility. 

Community College Nursing Scholarship Program: The Community College Nursing Scholarship program is designed to attract, incentivize, and encourage a diverse population of students to enroll in and complete a postsecondary credential or degree in the nursing profession at a Massachusetts community college.

*Please note the Foundation is not responsible for the overall reliability or accuracy of the above sites. Additionally, we can't guarantee that you'll receive a scholarship(s) from the organizations found on the above sites. (Updated 12/4/23)

  1. Apply to become a MassTeach Scholar before you transfer
  2. Take the MTEL and earn your Bachelor's degree in STEM at a state university
  3. Teach for at least four years at a local high school

As a MassTeach Scholar, you will access a defined transfer pathway for a teaching concentration at Westfield State University. You will be accepted as a STEM major leading to an initial teaching license, and then you will receive a $20,000 stipend for your junior and senior years of college as you complete a Bachelor's degree in a STEM field.

Learn More

Funded through the National Science Foundation's Robert F. Noyce Scholarship program.

Thank you for volunteering to be a scholarship reviewer for our annual awards process. We could not do this without you! Below are step-by-step instructions on how to use our scholarship software to review student applications. If you have any questions, please email us at

Important: Scores for each applicant are an average of three reviewer scores. If you are unable to complete your reviews, please let us know as soon as possible and before the review deadline date. We will arrange for someone else to complete the review so the student is not penalized for an incomplete reviewer score.


Logging In

  1. As a scholarship review committee member, you will receive an invitation notifying you that you have scholarship candidates to review when the review period opens. In the email is a link to take you to the sign-in page. If you do not already have an account, the email will contain an invitation link to create an account. After you create an account, you will be able to follow the steps below to review applications. You may also log in by going to
  2. Please click on "Reference and Reviewers" tab.
  3. Enter your email address and password and click "Sign in."
  4. If you do not remember your password, click the "Trouble signing in?" link and follow the instructions to recover your password. Please note that password reset links are only valid for six hours.
  5. If you have multiple roles, make sure you are logged in as a Reviewer by hovering over your name in the upper right hand corner and clicking on the "Reviewer" role.

Completing Scholarship Reviews

  1. To begin reviewing, select the name of the applicant (if you are reviewing on general application), or scholarship then name of applicant (if you are reviewing on scholarship). Please note: Most reviewers review by applicant.
  2. To review the application, click on the "Begin" button.
  3. Select which view you would like to use to review applications. In the "Review" tab, you will see the review rubrics and questions you will need to complete. Under the "Application" tab, you will see the student's submitted application. Click on the "Side-by-Side" tab to view both the review and the student's application at the same time. Please note: The view will default to the last view you used.
  4. Complete the required rubric ratings. Rating scales may vary by review group, but the highest number will always be the best rating you can give an applicant and the lowest number will always be the worst rating you can give an applicant (see Scoring below).
  5. If you would like to finish your review at a later time, click the "Save" button. When you have completed your review, click the "Submit" button. You will then be taken to the next review that needs to be completed.
  6. After submitting your review, you will be able to click the "Update" button to make any necessary changes until the review period closes.
  7. You may follow the steps above to complete the remainder of your assigned reviews.

How are scholarships reviewed?

With the exception of scholarships requiring extra documentation ("Apply-To" scholarships), reviews are done at the application level. Each application will be reviewed three times to help make the process as equitable as possible.

How are students matched to scholarships?

Within the scholarship software, students are either automatically matched to a scholarship or recommended to apply for a scholarship that requires additional application materials.

  • Auto-Match: The software automatically matches applicants to the scholarships for which they're qualified based on their responses in the general application. About 95% of our scholarships are Auto-Match.
  • Apply-To: Based on responses in the general application, students are suggested to look at scholarship opportunities that require additional information such as special essays or an additional reference. Students must fulfill the additional requirements before being applied for that particular scholarship.

As a result, we will be reviewing applications in two ways:

  • By the student's application: The Auto-Match applications will be reviewed by student application. This allows for a single set of scores to populate every scholarship for which the student qualified. Most of you will be reviewing in this manner.
  • By scholarship: The Apply-To applications will be reviewed by scholarship, giving the reviewers the ability to score not only the basic application rubrics, but those created for the special requirement.

You will be scoring the two basic sections of each student's application:

  • Academic Achievement
  • Required General Essay

Each student is scored by a minimum of three readers. Their score is the value of the average of those three reviewer scores in addition to financial need, which is determined by our Financial Aid department. All scoring will be done online through the software. Student scores will then be applied back to each Auto-Match scholarship where the students will be ranked high to low score. The student(s) with the highest overall score will be awarded scholarships. This gives the staff that will be awarding the scholarship the ability to start at the top and award until all available funds have been used.

Academic Achievement

A scale of 0 to10 with 0 being the lowest possible score and 10 being the highest possible score. Applications should only be given a 10 if truly outstanding. Please consider a 5 to be of average level. The chart below provides GPA ranges and assigned scores. The software does not "pre-score" any portion of the student's application; therefore this chart has been provided. You, as a reviewer, may take other items on the student's application into consideration when determining academic achievement.

Points  GPA Range
0 up to 2.49
1 2.50-2.65
2 2.66-2.80
3 2.81-2.95
4 2.96-3.10
5 3.11-3.25
6 3.26-3.40
7 3.41-3.55
8 3.56-3.70
9 3.71-3.85
10 3.86+

Please note: We ask students to self-identify their GPA since many of our students will not have GPAs in our student information system, either because it is their first semester at HCC, or they are planning on enrolling to the college for the upcoming fall semester.

Essay Question

A scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being the lowest possible score and 10 being the highest possible score. Applications should only be given a 10 if truly outstanding. Please consider a 5 to be of average level. The Foundation is looking for how well the student articulated their answer to the question. We ask the student to be concise, so length is not the focus.

General qualities to look for:

  • Engagement: Does the applicant discuss extracurricular, research, volunteer, internship, work, or have other experiences that add to his or her academic pursuits?
  • Leadership: Does the applicant discuss his or her role in or contribution to any experiences discussed?
  • Sense of Purpose: Does the applicant provide evidence of having a sense of direction and an understanding of how that has developed through past experiences?

Important Note

Many scholarship applicants are not native English speakers or writers. Because an essay-based application naturally puts these applicants at a disadvantage, selection committees should look beyond the spelling and grammar errors when there is evidence that the applicant is a non-native speaker, and focus more on the content of the information provided.

Once You've Completed Your Reviews

When you are completely done with your review of an application, you must click on Submit button. Your progress on completed evaluations will be tracked, and reviewers will receive reminder emails notifying them of any outstanding evaluations.

Growing up in a less privileged community has helped me realize the value of a college education. This scholarship will allow me to focus on my studies more & grow as an individual."

Group photo of individuals at the 2019 scholarship reception posing in front of a green HCC backdrop

– Tyler Wool, recipient of the Kenneth J. Murphy Scholarship


Students who received scholarships from the HCC Foundation in 2020 share what receiving a scholarship meant to them.

Make a Gift

A gift to HCC is an investment in the region and the future. Make your donation today.

Give Now

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