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Scholarship Application & Info

2023 Scholarship Season

The application phase closed on March 10. Over sixty volunteers are currently reviewing applications. Students will be notified in early May (via their HCC email) if they will receive a scholarship for the 2023-2024 academic year. 


links & resources

If you are enrolled full-time in chemistry, engineering, mathematics, physics, or another STEM discipline at HCC, you may be eligible for a National Science Foundation Scholarship of up to $10,000 per year (the amount of the scholarship is determined by the student's FAFSA form). Recipients of the scholarship will be required to complete a one-credit STEM seminar and attend several STEM events during each semester in which they are enrolled in the program. Those chosen for this award will become a member of HCC's exciting STEM Scholars program. STEM Scholars are expected to maintain full-time enrollment in a STEM program, be in good academic standing (based on HCC's policies), complete an associate degree at HCC, and transfer to an accredited STEM degree program at a four-year institution.


A NSF S-STEM Scholarship recipient must:

  1. Be a citizen of the United States, national of the United States, alien admitted as a refugee, or alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence
  2. Be enrolled in one of the following STEM programs: engineering, chemistry, physics or mathematics, biology, biotechnology, computer information systems, environmental science, or pre-veterinary
  3. Be enrolled full time (15 credit hours or at minimum 12 credit hours)
  4. Demonstrate academic talent based on a GPA of 2.7 or higher in high school or in courses completed at HCC (developmental courses will be included in GPA calculations)
  5. Demonstrate financial need by completing a FAFSA application
To Apply

Fill out the application form here. Please note that a complete application must include:

  • A completed application form
  • A personal essay describing your interest in STEM, career goals, why you would make a good candidate for this award, and what your plans are for accomplishing these goals
  • A copy of your most recent HCC transcript or most recent high school transcript (if entering HCC)
  • A copy of FAFSA and other financial aid documents
  • Two letters of reference from persons who can talk about your academic merit (at least one should be from a STEM teacher)
Criteria for Evaluation

Major consideration will be given to academic talent and potential as demonstrated by the applicant's GPA, transcripts, and recommendation letters. The applicant's participation in community activities (e.g., service learning, HCC student clubs, extra-curricular programs, and hobbies) will be evaluated for demonstration of interest, motivation, and commitment. Communication skills as demonstrated in the personal essay and in an interview with the STEM faculty, will also be considered. The amount awarded will be based on need determined by the student's FAFSA.

Questions? Contact Ileana Vasu at or 413.552.2438.

  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.

application due march 19!

Learn More


April Graziano
Education Department

Ileana Vasu
Mathematics Department

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

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); personal, professional, and educational aspirations (what do you hope to do); and how scholarship support will help you. 

  • 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. A list of essay workshops is provided on this page under Links & Resources.

Workshops are held in HCC's Dwight Writing Center unless otherwise noted. Contact for registration information for remote workshops.

Wednesday Feb. 1 11 a.m. DON 254
Wednesday Feb. 1 5 p.m. Remote
Thursday Feb. 2 12:30 p.m. DON 254
Monday Feb. 6 5 p.m. Remote
Wednesday Feb. 8 11 a.m. DON 254
Thursday Feb. 9 11 a.m. Remote
Tuesday Feb. 14 11 a.m. DON 252
Friday Feb. 17 2 p.m. Remote
Wednesday Feb. 22 11 a.m. DON 254
Wednesday Feb. 22 12:30 p.m. DON 254
Monday Feb. 27 11 a.m. DON 171
Wednesday March 1 11 a.m. DON 254
Wednesday March 1 2 p.m. Remote
Monday March 6 11 a.m. DON 171
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 and caring people who unselfishly give to support the educational endeavors of students like you. They typically ask for nothing in return, but receiving a well-written thank-you from a student is always special and lets the donor know that their scholarship was greatly appreciated. Your thank-you reminds them why they gave in the first place, and often helps to secure continuing gifts for future students. You can find information on the donors here.

include in your thank-you
  • Mention your accomplishments and achievements (obstacles you have overcome to attend college).
  • Mention any extracurricular activities (stories about a relevant extracurricular or community service project that impacted your life).
  • Discuss both your educational and career goals.
  • 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").
  • 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.
  • Check spelling and grammar after you have completed your thank-you.

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.

Jeffery Anderson-Burgos, recipient of the Henry S. '71 and Carol Andrus Scholarship

To the generous donors responsible for the Henry S. '71 and Carol Andrus Scholarship, I wish to express my deepest gratitude. As a student looking to enter the world and be a force for change, having the chance to enter that world with less of a debt burden through scholarship opportunities such as this makes a very big difference. I have developed a profound respect for the HCC Foundation and for those of you who show your enthusiasm for higher education through the funding of these awards. As much as this award is meant to honor students like myself for our efforts to better ourselves and our world, your commitment is equally worthy of honor. In short, thank you for your investment in my future.

Deirdre Brazenall, recipient of the John F. Connors Scholarship

Dear Kate C. Payne and all who make the James F. Connors Scholarship possible, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to further my education and pursue my ambitions to teach. My family is so grateful and excited for me. I really appreciate what you've done for me and other students with financial needs. I will make the most of this opportunity and I will not forget your generosity.

Pamela Akemon, recipient of the Adeline & Jacob Barowsky Scholarship

Dear Scholarship Donor, I am humbled to be a recipient of the Adeline & Jacob Barowsky Scholarship. It is an honor to be chosen as a recipient of this award. Your generous support has kept me from worrying so much about the cost of tuition. It took a lifetime of attempting to sell my talents without a degree or certificate to get decent jobs and sustain myself. It took turning middle age to see just how important and challenging an education can be. I have struggled and I have been extremely self-disciplined to attempt a full time job and part time schooling. You are helping make it worthwhile for me to continue! As I near the completion of a certificate in the Medical Assisting Program this spring, my objective is to continue towards an Associate's Degree in Science/Liberal Arts. I truly value my education here at Holyoke Community College and the inspiration I am given to continue to reshape myself! Thank you again for your generosity. I look forward to the time that I can help others as you have helped me.

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.

Citrix ShareFile Scholarship for Future Entrepreneurs: This scholarship is designed to help students pay for their education as they seek their own opportunities in entrepreneurship.

Elks National Foundation: Elks National Foundation Scholarships A comprehensive site that has information on loans, scholarships, and saving plans. 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.

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.

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

Walmart Foundation: Available to Wal-Mart employees and their children.

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.

The Gates Millennium Scholarship: Funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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.

IEFA: IEFA is the premier resource for financial aid, college scholarship, and grant information for US and international students wishing to study abroad. Scholarship database of 3,000 sources worth up to $3 billion. Scholarships for the blind.

State Farm: State Farm Insurance scholarships.

Sallie Mae: Student loan funding.

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. 

Fidelity Scholarship Program: Scholarships are for students who have been accepted into but have not yet started certificate, two-year, and four-year programs at accredited colleges.

*Please note the Foundation is not responsible for the overall reliability or accuracy regarding the above sites. Additionally, we can't guarantee that you'll receive a scholarship(s) from the organizations found on the above sites. (Updated 2/15/19)

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.

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.

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Don't miss

Julie Phillips

Interim Director of Development

Institutional Advancement

Donahue 170

413.552.2253 (Tel)