I have a question regarding how schools decide on who to give scholarship to.

Is it appropriate for me to ask my graduate school department on their guidelines in giving out scholarships?

I feel like I have been cheated from scholarship because I have found out people who have worse undergrad GPA/GRE got scholarship and I didn't. I am an architecture major and will study in USC this coming Fall. I submitted my application 2 weeks before the deadline, but they emailed me that I was missing my community college transcript so they couldn't forward to the architecture department they finally forwarded my application early March. I responded to their email the next day with the transcript, but they just took their time to file it. Could that be a factor? If scholarships are given out based on performance then I really think I deserve it after, again, knowing that people who performed worse than me in undergrad received it.

  • I have a friend's friend who got into the same school as me, she told me she had lower GPA/GRE, no working experience, and practically nothing really special that stands out and she got offered 10k per year. She is also Asian just like me. It would be a different case if it was someone on the forum that just posted their GPA/GRE/race/whatever information (which I also found one with a lower GPA/GRE, same race). They can tell me their guidelines, but if I am a suitable candidate for scholarship according to their guidelines I don't see why I am not being offered a single dime while others who a
    – Louis
    Aug 4, 2013 at 23:16
  • I feel like you are jumping the gun without many answers. Perhaps she downplayed her SOP. Perhaps a professor liked her SOP for a random reason. They are entitled to these things. I really hope the tone of the messages you send them don't sound so entitled, because that is how it comes off.
    – Neo
    Aug 4, 2013 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


Your best bet would be to make contact with the scholarship people and ask (nicely) for feedback as to why you did not get a scholarship. This way, you'll know for certain as to why they did not award you a scholarship.

Often, scholarships are not just based on GPA/GRE scores or any other academic performance, there are often a myriad of other criteria they use to assess an applicant's scholarship suitability. Did you have to fill out a form with some details or supply a personal statement?

How do you know that they

just took their time to file it.

If they did (which I doubt), then yes, it could be a factor, but I doubt a malicious one considering the amount of information that they would have to file, collate from the many applicants. More likely, they filed your additional transcripts as soon as they received it (or very soon after).


It sounds like you don't really understand how grad school funding works.

Generally, GPA and GRE are not even close to the only things that are considered for scholarships. A lot of people can explain away reasons for bad grades, perhaps there was some reason they had lower grades like illness. They might have amazing letters of recommendation. They may have done research, which in my opinion comes way above GRE/GPA in the grad schools eyes. They may have some kind of interesting background, minority or first generation student or something. They may come from a much better school than you, which means the GPA holds a lot more meaning than yours. Their statement of purpose may have been right on target with what the school was looking for.

Additionally, seeing as your application was not complete at the time, probably did not hurt you that much, but it definitely did not help.

If you are going to contact them, do it in a really professional way. DON'T mention that someone with a lower GRE/GPA got a scholarship when you didn't. They'll just tell you they factor a lot of things into it.


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