1. Read the Eligibility Requirements, Fellow Obligations, and the Overview of Clearances in the application closely. Make sure you’re clear on what the program entails and what’s required of you.
    2. Request a Letter of Recommendation from someone who knows you well. It’s best to ask someone for this letter now instead of when you are ready to submit the application, to ensure that they have plenty of time to craft the letter. If you’ve been in school in the past two years, the letter will preferably come from a professor or faculty member.

    TIP: A personal letter from someone who knows you well will be much stronger than a letter from a well-known person, who doesn’t know you very well!

    1.  Request your unofficial school transcripts for all institutions you’ve attended for two semesters or more. Don’t forget to include study abroad or college exchange programs.
    2. Start working on your Personal Statement (750 words or less). Read the article on Tips for Writing an Impactful Personal Statement to help you develop a first draft. Ask a friend, professor, or mentor for feedback, and continue honing your statement until you are ready to submit the application.
    3. Start working on your resume. Read the article on How to Highlight Leadership Skills on Your Resume. Ask your mentor or your college’s Career Services Office to proof your resume and provide feedback.
    4. While you are waiting for feedback on your Personal Statement and Resume, and waiting for your Letter of Recommendation, collect the rest of the documents that you need:
      • Most Recent Student Aid Reports (or SAR) are generated by completing a FAFSA.
        • You can access all of your Federal financial aid information by logging into your account at studentaid.ed.gov.
        • If you’ve been out of college and are returning for graduate school, you should complete the FAFSA with the most recent tax information you have; a SAR will be generated immediately following completion of the FAFSA.
      • If you’re in college (during the application process), you will need a copy of your financial aid award letter for the current academic year.
        • You may be able to access this via your school’s online portal, under financial aid or student payments.
        • If you’re having trouble locating your financial aid award, reach out to your Financial Aid Office on campus and they will be able to print and/or send you a new one.
    5. The selection panel factors economic status into the selection process. It is interested in learning of backgrounds that show financial disadvantage or applicant’s need to secure non-family economic assistance to attend graduate school. There are many different manifestations of financial need, including reliance on grants and loans as an undergraduate student, accumulation of significant student debt, the need to work while in school, lack of family resources, choice of less expensive schools, and/or discontinuation of family support for graduate school. Applicants can help the selection panel to understand their financial situation in the following ways:
      • Answering financial questions in the application, based on the information in the FAFSA. Applicants should use financial data in the most recent FAFSA per FAFSA requirements.
      • Submitting the Student Aid Report generated from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Again, applicants should use in the most recent FAFSA.
      • Submitting documentation from your university that shows financial assistance you received during your undergraduate years (if applicable).
      • Writing a statement that explains your situation – focusing specifically on financial need. The most useful statement clearly and concisely explains your need for financial assistance for graduate school and any plans for covering these costs. Use quantitative data whenever possible, including specific data on financial assistance received during undergraduate school and outstanding education-related debt. You can highlight overall family economic status, as well as your personal situation, e.g., work during school, low-paid service positions, or financial obligations. This is your chance to make your case. Your statement must be no more than 400 words.

    TIP: Ensure your attachments are saved as PDFs.

    1. Share who inspired you. If you have specific names of DIRs (Diplomats in Residence), Department of State staff, faculty or advisors, or Clarke DS Fellowship staff who inspired or encouraged you to apply, please list them. We want to thank them!