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Steps to applying for the Truman scholarship

Steps to applying for the Truman scholarship

The Truman Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship in the United States that provides financial aid to undergraduates who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential, public service commitment, and academic success. It was founded in 1975 as an honorary memorial to Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, and is administered by the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

Undergraduate students in their junior year of college or who want to pursue graduate or professional degrees are eligible for the scholarship. The selection procedure is very competitive, and just a few students are picked each year.

Steps to applying for the Truman scholarship

Before Applying

Although the prize is competitive, we believe that the application process can be beneficial regardless of the outcome. Exploring and refining your prior experiences and future aspirations is part of the application process. You will be encouraged to be ambitious and will be asked to evaluate several paths in service. You can expect to improve your writing, relationships with mentors, and knowledge of your chosen area along the road. These abilities do not fade when your Truman experience ends. Applying for a competitive grant, such as the Truman Scholarship or one of many others, will help you prepare for more competitive graduate school applications and feel more at ease in stressful interviews. Along the road, you may meet friends, mentors, and potential partners.

Approaching the application process as a tool for learning rather than something to be won not only makes the process more beneficial but also increases your chances of success. Candidates that approach the process with openness and authenticity generally outperform their opponents who are more focused on the process’s competitive features.


To be eligible for the award candidates must be:

  • US Citizens, US National residents of American Samoa, or expecting their citizenship by the date of the award;
  • Currently enrolled at a US-based accredited institution;
  • In their penultimate year of school (for candidates graduating in four years or more) or in their final year of school (for candidates graduating in three years or fewer);
  • Nominated by either their current institution of study or their former institution of study for transfer or community college applicants. Schools are limited to four nominees plus three additional transfer nominations; and,
  • Planning to attend graduate school in pursuit of a career in public service. The Foundation encourages time between undergraduate and graduate school, so candidates need not commit to going immediately.

Also, candidates can be:

  • pursuing any major likely to lead to a public service career;
  • any age;
  • interested in any graduate degree other than the MBA; and,
  • considering either domestic or international programs for their graduate education.

All Scholars are required to:

  • Attend Truman Scholars Leadership Week as a condition of receiving the award. If you cannot attend, you should not apply for the award;
  • File annual reports with the Foundation until funding is complete;
  • File a graduate school proposal in advance of receiving Truman funding (this proposal does not need to be for the same program described in their application);
  • File an employment report for three of seven years after graduation from a Foundation-funded graduate program. If Scholars are unable to work in public service for this period, they may be subject to paying back their funding.

The Selection Process

Campus Selection

The selection process varies greatly by college; some institutions identify potential Truman nominees early in the process, while others need extensive submissions. We recommend contacting your campus Advisor as soon as possible to know more about the process on your campus.

If your campus has no Advisor, then starting early will give you time to identify the right person to help with your application.

Steps to applying for the Truman scholarship

Submitting the Application

Some colleges and universities use our application as part of the campus process, while others use their own forms. Regardless, your Advisor must provide you with access to our online system at some point.

The Advice and Guidance section contains more information on the application itself. We normally advise working on the application over multiple days, if not weeks. Strong applications involve much research and revision.

You can either work on your application within the online system or work in another program and copy your responses into our form. You can invite your Advisor to review your application at any time. Sharing access with them does not interfere with your ability to view and edit your own application. Discuss with them when you are best able to receive feedback. Once the application is ready for the Foundation’s review, your Advisor will allow us access to your materials. Again, you will still have the ability to review and edit your materials up until the deadline.

A transcript from whatever college you attended as well as three recommendation letters are required. Give these things to your advisor; they can tell you how to upload them into the system.


The Foundation decides how many Scholarships can be provided in a particular year after receiving the panel’s recommendations. They can accommodate some, but typically not all, of the additional panel suggestions based on that number.

Finalists will be informed of the outcome by email and a physical letter sent to the application’s permanent address. We make every attempt to contact you before the public publishing


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