How to Start a Scholarship to Honor a Loved One

scholarship to honor a loved one

When you lose someone special in your life, moving on can be very difficult. However, you can always cherish the memory of that person, because as long as they are remembered, they are with us in a certain way. One of the best ways to keep a memory of your loved one is alive is to start a scholarship fund in their name.

You’ve probably heard about these scholarship funds quite a few times before and you may even want to set one up for yourself. It’s a noble cause and not only will you help the memory stay alive, but you’ll also help a student (or someone else) in need. Here’s how to do it.

Decide who should get the scholarship

Besides ScholarshipApp, we also run ScholarshipOwl, and we’ve seen a wide range of requirements for scholarships. If you want to honor your loved one, it’s a good idea to commemorate them by giving the scholarship to someone similar to them. For example, if they were in love with music, you want to give away the scholarship to music students. In general, most people who dedicate scholarships to their loved ones suit them to the person they want to remember.

Come up with a name

Once you launch your scholarship, you are sure to get some press coverage from universities, newspapers and various other outlets. Its name will get around quite a lot, so you should come up with something catchy and memorable and have your loved one’s name included. John Doe’s Musical Excellence Scholarship sounds like a good idea to get started with, for example.

Set the deadlines

Once you know who’s getting your scholarship, it’s time to determine some basics. You want to decide whether your scholarship will be a one-off or something you want to give annually or even more frequently. If you want something longer-lasting, you can set up an endowment.

Choose the requirements

This is the most difficult and most interesting part of each scholarship. Before setting one up in honor of your loved one, it’s a pretty good idea to look around and see what other scholarships require of their applicants in order to enter. You really need a clear vision of what kind of standards your ideal student needs to fulfill, but at the same time, the requirements should stay realistic. Besides their GPA, you can ask for a variety of other information, including a cover letter and a list of references. Once again, take a look around so you don’t set the bar too high or too low.

Arrange the selection process

When they launch a scholarship in their loved one’s name, most people forget one thing: thousands of students will apply. Thanks to scholarship websites such as ScholarshipOwl, students nowadays have access to thousands of scholarships in one place and they will apply to yours if they fit all the checkboxes. Handling thousands of applications at once can be very overwhelming.

So, you should come up with a process where the scholarship applications are handled. Who gets all the applications? Who reads the cover letters? Who makes the decision on which applicant goes to the next round? If the process is too complicated, you can form a scholarship committee. Whichever the case, I strongly suggest using a dedicated scholarship app to manage your applications. In the end, the biggest worry of all is who gets the scholarship award. If the winner is awarded at random, you have to add that to the pile of administrative tasks as well.

(Optional) Register a scholarship fund

If you want to be completely legitimate, you can register a scholarship fund through a community foundation. If you want to go this route, you can also team up with a university to start your own scholarship. However, there will be a minimum amount that you can donate and it will limit your freedom in different ways.

Finally, you have the option of setting up your scholarship as a nonprofit so that anyone who donates to your scholarship fund can get tax benefits. As great as this sounds, this process can be quite lengthy and cost a pretty penny until it’s completed.


Setting up a scholarship fund in the name of your loved one can be one of the noblest ways to keep the memory of them. However, it’s a process that means much more than handing out a lump of cash to a random stranger – and these are just the main steps in the process.

If you want to launch your scholarship within just 15 minutes – we know how you can do it. Sign up with ScholarshipApp today and create a scholarship in just a few easy steps. Keep the memory of your loved ones alive, without spending days toiling behind your computer – by using ScholarshipApp!