The CFA journey is long and grueling, requiring candidates to pass three levels of intensifying exams. However, there's one challenge that starts long before the first exam: the cost! This certification can be highly expensive and a significant burden for many prospective charter-holders.
Here's the good news though: there are many sources of financial aid to help you afford the costs associated with the CFA certification. So without further ado, let's dive into the tips to help YOU land a financial scholarship.
1. Do Your Research
This seems pretty obvious but do not overlook the importance of this step! From scholarships to grants, the Internet is full of websites that offer advice on getting free money for various academic and professional advancement pursuits. Take some time to research what financial assistance you might be eligible for. Carefully review each CFA scholarship to determine the award criteria – and how likely you might be to receive it.
2. Always Submit a Complete Application
Each scholarship application will require extensive work, and it's vital to make sure your application is polished. Read them carefully, and be sure to gather everything you need, including transcripts and letters of recommendation to submit a complete application. Many scholarship committees will flat out reject an application if it is incomplete. They have to consider way too many candidates to waste their time reviewing incomplete applications.
3. Deadlines Do Matter!
Scholarships typically have two deadlines—early and standard. To get the best possible chance of success, apply by the early deadline and get ahead of the others who are competing for the same scholarship. Take time to make sure that everything needed for submission is ready well in advance of the deadline. Scholarship programs don't usually consider applications submitted after the deadline.
4. Tell a Compelling Story
If you want to stand out from the crowd of applicants, you'll need to focus on three key areas: your research, your leadership, and your writing. Essays are typically about telling a story, whether it’s personal or professional. Authentic. Compelling. Unique. Make sure your stories about your true career highlights are filled with compelling, authentic and unique insights. In addition, avoid repeating things that the scholarship committee can find on your resume, transcripts, or letters of recommendation.
Instead, dare to be a bit vulnerable; if you have some major life obstacle or tribulation that you have overcome to get to this point in your career, by all means, share it. Also, articulate what financial burdens you face and how the CFA scholarship will help you fulfill your career goals or realise your dream. If you are determined to endure the CFA journey over the next four-plus years, with the only uncertainty you face being the lack of financial resources to go the distance, then make sure you communicate that when telling your story.
5. Apply to as Many as Possible
The truth is that you most likely just need one scholarship to satisfy the financial requirements for registering and preparing for the CFA Exams. So, cast a wide net to maximise your chances of landing the one that would make all the difference for your CFA Charter goals.
Submit applications to as many as you can, especially those with similar eligibility criteria or requirements. A good practice is to identify the top scholarships that you have a realistic chance of getting and submit a complete application to each one.
That was a lot of information! It's alright, take it in. It may seem overwhelming at times but we got you. You're not alone in this journey and we wish you the best of luck applying to CFA scholarships to help you pay for the CFA Exam and third-party review courses.