CFA scholarship application: 13 handy tips & advice

  • Understand the form: You can save your current progress in the application and return to earlier sections of the form later. However, you cannot proceed to the next section of the online application without first completing the previous sections completely. This may be a minor annoyance to some.
  • Your personal statement should be saved on your own platform: We recommend typing up your 3,500 character maximum personal statement on a word processor for grammar and spelling check, but more importantly to have a backup that you can easily copy over into your application later for applications that require a personal statement (e.g., Access and Women scholarships).
  • What makes a good personal statement? Your unique story. While this applies only to Access and Women scholarship applicants, our research suggests that the more personal your answer, the better. CFA Institute is interested in learning about you, why you would like to earn the CFA charter and how it helps you achieves your goals. Tell them your story (succinctly)!
  • Here are some general guidelines to get you started:
  • how you learned about the exam and scholarship; your career goals; how the scholarship will help your financial situation (i.e. why you need the scholarship); the value of the CFA charter (i.e. why you need the CFA charter);
  • For Level 2 and Level 3 candidates, you could include what you’ve learned so far from the CFA exams and how it has directly applied to you.4

After submission, no changes are permitted: Before submitting your application, double-check that all of the details are correct.

Before registering for the exam, apply for the scholarship(s). If you have already registered for the exam, you are not eligible for the scholarship because it indicates that you have the ability to pay. However, if you are not selected for a CFA scholarship, you can receive a one-year early exam registration fee discount on your next exam registration (this is verified with CFA Institute in 2022).

Before registering for the exam, wait for the scholarship decision: After applying for a scholarship, you must wait for an official decision before registering for the exam. If you register for an exam without a result on your scholarship application, your scholarship application will be declined/voided.

Prepare your international passport. When registering for and taking the CFA exams, you must present your international travel passport, as no other form of identification is acceptable. Because of the time it takes to obtain or renew a passport, this is something you should keep in mind if you don’t already have one.

You can apply more than once: Fortunately, you can receive a CFA scholarship more than once, so if you qualify, applying again after your first exam is worthwhile. Even if you’ve failed an exam, you can still apply for a scholarship to retake it.

You can apply for multiple scholarships at the same time: If a candidate receives multiple scholarships (of any kind), the most recent scholarship will be applied.
No doubling up: You will not be eligible for a scholarship if you begin working for an employer that reimburses for exam registrations, but you would not need the scholarship in that case anyway.

You still require funding. Remember that even with the scholarship, you must pay an additional $150 for physical copies of the curriculum if desired. The eBooks are included in the registration fee, and it is worth trying out the digital version first before paying extra for the physical copies, as they are convenient and easily accessible across multiple platforms. Although I prefer paper copies of textbooks whenever possible, eBooks are especially useful when traveling abroad.

Advice for Access Scholarship applicants specifically:
References: CFA Institute appears to have removed the requirement for references in your Access scholarship applications in the most recent 2022 updates. Yay!
Net assets and gross household income: For starters, there are no income or asset requirements for scholarship applicants. Although this section appears to be extensive, simply go through each category of income and net asset systematically, then add them all up to form your best estimates in US dollars. Put what you believe is most accurate and in accordance with the CFA Program Code of Ethics. You are not required to send supporting documents unless specifically requested, and you should not upload any documents containing personally identifiable financial information.

It is a costly decision to waste the scholarship: It also goes without saying that if you are awarded a scholarship, you should cherish the opportunity by studying diligently, giving it your all, and sitting for the exam. Worse, if you do not appear for the exam as a scholarship recipient, you may be disqualified from future scholarship applications (s).

Learn more here

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