Answers to questions frequently asked by our scholarship applicants can be found below.

About Applying

Do I have to attend a four-year college to apply for a scholarship from The Community Foundation?

Not necessarily. While some of our scholarships are for four-year college programs, others cover the costs of two-year programs, vocational or technical training. You should thoroughly review each application’s criteria to determine what it covers before applying.

Do I have to be a graduating high school senior to apply for a scholarship?

No. While we do award the majority of scholarships to graduating high school seniors, we also award scholarships to current undergraduate students and students continuing their education at an undergraduate level. You should thoroughly review each scholarship’s criteria to see who is eligible before applying.

Who can write a scholarship recommendation for me?

Unless the recommendation form specifically indicates who should complete the recommendation, recommendations may be written by a teacher, counselor, spiritual leader, employer, etc. Your recommender cannot be related to you. Your recommender must be able to describe how they know you and support the information you have provided in your scholarship application.

Click here for how to ask for a letter of recommendation.

Can I submit my application materials electronically?

Yes, most scholarship applications MUST be submitted through the Smarter Select portal. Select the “Apply online” link for each scholarship you wish to apply for and follow the instructions.

Can I apply for and received more than one scholarship?

Students are encouraged to apply for multiple scholarships through the Smarter Select portal. Once a student applies for one scholarship, the portal will automatically repopulate subsequent scholarship applications with the student’s information. It is possible to receive more than one scholarship, but students are rarely chosen to receive more than one multi-year scholarship.

Does it cost anything to apply for a scholarship?

It does not cost anything to apply for a scholarship from The Community Foundation. Be cautious of scholarship scams which cost money and do not provide any useful scholarship information. These scams often promise guaranteed scholarships and are sent through email spam or physical mail.

Do I have to be a resident of San Luis Obispo County to apply for your scholarships?

Our scholarships open to high-school applicants are exclusively for residents of San Luis Obispo County or the Santa Maria Basin. Undergraduates at Cal Poly SLO may apply for our scholarships targeting college students, regardless of residence.

I do not qualify for financial aid through my school. Am I still eligible?

Not all our scholarships are based on financial need. We may also determine need differently than your school’s financial office.

I am not a straight-A student or athlete. Am I still eligible?

Our scholarships are not based solely on academic merit, athletic ability, or leadership experience. Some are based on these criteria, but most are geared toward applicants with some financial need, participation in community service, extracurricular activities or work experience, a minimum GPA, and a specific major or career goal. We encourage you to review all scholarships on our website and complete an application for any whose criteria match your accomplishments.

Understanding Scholarship Terms

What is the FAFSA?

To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, loans, and work-study, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.

In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.

Apply online at

What is the SAR?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is a paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and lists your answers to the questions on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What is the SAI (Student Aid Index)?

Your SAR will include your Student Aid Index (SAI). The SAI determines your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, and the college uses the SAI to assess your eligibility for other federal and nonfederal student aid.

The Student Aid Index is part of your SAR. It is the amount you and your family are expected to contribute to your college education for one year. The contribution may be through personal payments or through student loans.

What is the difference between, one-time, renewable and multi-year types of scholarships?

Scholarships may be either one-time or renewable. One-time awards are characterized by the full amount of the funds being issued to a student only once. Renewable awards can take two forms. Multi-year awards guarantee the student will receive an award each year, provided they maintain their academic performance. Renewable scholarships may or may not be renewed annually at the discretion of the selection committee based not just on academic performance but continued financial need and availability of funds as well.

The Application Process

How will my application be evaluated?

All scholarships may have different eligibility and selection criteria. Therefore, staff will check your application for basic eligibility, and then a selection committee reviews your application and scores it based on a predetermined rubric. Our selection committee members are volunteers who are trained to review and evaluate specific information that you provide in your application, such as your academic record, extracurricular activities, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.

What are my chances of receiving a scholarship?

The possibility of you receiving a scholarship depends on several factors, including how many applicants are eligible for the scholarship, how many scholarships will be awarded and how competitive the other applicants are. We encourage you to be thorough and thoughtful in completing your scholarship application to increase your chances of receiving a scholarship.

Will I be interviewed during the application process?

Two of our scholarships, the Richard J. Weyhrich Leadership Award and the Yeager Science Scholarship, require an interview for selected finalists.

Receiving A Scholarship Through The Community Foundation

When will I know if I have been selected as a recipient for a scholarship administered by The Community Foundation?

Applicants will be notified of the scholarship selection committee’s decision in early May via email. A formal award letter will follow in the mail. 

Will I receive a check if I am awarded a scholarship?

No. All scholarship checks are made payable to the college or university you are attending and mailed directly to the Bursar’s Office or the Financial Aid Office of your school.

If I already have all the funding I need for this school year, can I defer my scholarship to next year?

Depending on the scholarship, you may be able to defer your award. Our staff works with each recipient to help them develop a financial plan and protect their best interests.

If a scholarship is a renewable or multi-year award, will I automatically receive it the following year?

Scholars must confirm their eligibility each year. Each scholarship award has its own requirements but at a minimum the following holds true. Scholars are required to complete a minimum number of college-level work in satisfactory academic standing and failure to complete the minimum units or achieve a required GPA may result in cancellation of their award, and/or required re-payment of the award.

Once scholars are registered for the FALL academic term, they will need to send a copy of unofficial transcript from their school portal displaying their list of courses and units of study. Once the transcripts are received and reviewed, the Foundation will issue the next payment to the scholar’s college/university. 

Is my scholarship taxable? Your scholarship may be tax-free if you are a student pursuing a degree at an educational institution and the scholarship pays for tuition, fees, books and supplies that are required of all students in your classes. For more information, consult a tax expert or your school’s financial aid office.

For more information about our scholarship program contact Scholarship Manager Emily Jagger at or call 805-543-2323.