How To Win UVA Scholarships—The Jefferson Scholarship & Walentas Scholarship

How to Win UVA Scholarships—The Jefferson Scholarship & Walentas Scholarship

As a University of Virginia student or prospective student, you have access to a range of merit-based scholarship opportunities that can provide invaluable financial support during your studies. Two of the most prestigious options are the Jefferson Scholarship and the Walentas Scholarship, which offer full rides covering tuition, room and board, books, and travel. To be competitive applicants for these highly selective awards takes thorough preparation, standout achievements, visionary goals, and persuasive personal statements.

This article provides an in-depth guide to positioning yourself as a top contender, highlighting key timelines, eligibility criteria, selection processes, and expert tips to bolster your chances of success. Follow the strategic blueprint outlined here for crafting application materials that compel review committees to recognize you as a deserving recipient.

Understanding Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are awarded based primarily on a student’s achievements and skills, rather than financial need. The Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship are two prestigious merit-based scholarships offered by the University of Virginia. To be considered for these merit-based scholarships, you must first apply and be admitted to UVA.

Once admitted, you are automatically considered for merit aid. However, to increase your chances of being awarded a merit scholarship, it is recommended that you:

  • Demonstrate outstanding academic achievement. Candidates for merit scholarships typically rank at the top of their high school class with a high GPA and rigorous course load, especially in core subjects like math, science, English, history, and foreign languages.
  • Score highly on college admissions tests. Strong scores on tests like the SAT and/or ACT provide objective measures of your abilities and potential for success at an elite university like UVA.
  • Develop your talents and pursue your passions. Merit scholarship committees look for candidates with unique skills, talents, experiences, and interests that will enrich the UVA community. Participate in extracurricular activities and pursue your interests outside the classroom.
  • Exhibit strong leadership abilities. Leadership roles in student organizations, sports teams, volunteer groups, and other activities demonstrate important skills that merit scholarship committees value.
  • Apply for additional scholarships. Applying for other prestigious scholarships for which you are eligible, in addition to the Jefferson and Walentas scholarships, demonstrates your motivation and commitment to pursuing merit aid.

By achieving at a high level academically, scoring well on standardized tests, developing your talents, and demonstrating strong leadership skills, you position yourself as an exceptional candidate for merit-based scholarships at UVA like the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship. With hard work and persistence, you have an excellent chance of being awarded generous merit aid by the University of Virginia.

What Is the Jefferson Scholarship?

The Jefferson Scholarship is the University of Virginia’s most prestigious merit-based undergraduate scholarship program. Recipients receive a full undergraduate scholarship that covers tuition, room, board, and fees for up to four years.

To be eligible for the Jefferson Scholarship, you must be a senior in high school and either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident intending to enroll at UVA as a first-year student. Applicants are evaluated based on outstanding leadership, scholarship, and citizenship demonstrated through their high school career and community service.

The selection process for the Jefferson Scholarship is highly competitive. Applicants first submit an application with an essay and resume highlighting their achievements and impact. Selected semifinalists are then invited to participate in regional and on-Grounds interviews. Finalists participate in Finalist Weekend at UVA, allowing the selection committee to evaluate candidates’ poise, self-expression, and enthusiasm for the University.

Only 30 Jefferson Scholars are selected each year from a nationwide pool of applicants. As a Jefferson Scholar, you join a community of visionary student leaders and gain access to many opportunities for intellectual growth, leadership development, and community engagement. In addition to full funding for your undergraduate degree, benefits include:

  • Participation in the Jefferson Scholars Leadership Program
  • Opportunities for internships, study abroad, and research
  • Mentorship from UVA faculty members and alumni
  • Lifelong membership in the Jefferson Scholars alumni community

If you are passionate about leadership and community service and aspire to make a difference in the world, the Jefferson Scholarship can provide the necessary funding and experiences to help make those dreams a reality. The application process is challenging, but the rewards of becoming a Jefferson Scholar are well worth the effort.

What Is the University of Virginia Walentas Scholarship?

The University of Virginia Walentas Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship awarded to outstanding incoming first-year students at the University of Virginia. Established in 2018 by Jane and Peter Walentas, the scholarship provides full tuition, room, and board for four years.

To be eligible for the Walentas Scholarship, applicants must demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, intellectual curiosity, and strong character. Candidates should rank in the top of their high school class, achieve high standardized test scores, and show a passion for learning. Leadership experience, community service, artistic talent, and overcoming adversity are also considered.

The selection committee evaluates applicants based on:

Academic Record

  • Rigorous high school curriculum with excellent grades
  • High class rank and standardized test scores
  • Academic awards and distinctions

Personal Qualities and Character

  • Intellectual curiosity and love of learning
  • Leadership experience
  • Strong moral character
  • Community service and volunteering

Extracurricular Activities

  • Athletics, arts, music, student government, clubs, etc.
  • Significant accomplishments and impact

Letters of Recommendation

  • Glowing endorsements from teachers who can speak to the student’s potential for success at UVA

Finalists are invited to participate in video interviews before scholarship recipients are selected. The Walentas Scholarship is a life-changing opportunity for gifted students to attend a top university without financial burden. By generously supporting exceptional students in pursuit of higher education, the Walentas family is helping to shape the next generation of leaders.

Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship at the University of Virginia, you must meet several requirements.

Academic Achievement

Both scholarships require demonstrated academic excellence and intellectual curiosity. Applicants should be in the top of their high school class with competitive standardized test scores. Strong grades in challenging courses, especially in English, math, science, history, and foreign languages are expected.

Leadership and Service

The selection committees look for applicants who have shown leadership and a commitment to community service. Participation in extracurricular activities, sports teams, clubs, volunteer work, internships, or civic organizations should be highlighted. Applicants should demonstrate how they have made a meaningful impact through their involvement.

Compelling Personal Qualities

Aside from outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement, applicants should convey admirable personal qualities like integrity, resilience, creativity, and a thirst for knowledge. The essay questions provide an opportunity to give the selection committees insight into your character, values, and motivation. Applicants should aim to come across as authentic, multidimensional, and intellectually engaged.

Virginia Residency

To be eligible for the Jefferson Scholarship, applicants must be residents of the United States who live in Virginia. Out-of-state students are still eligible for the Walentas Scholarship.

Financial Need

While academic merit is the primary criterion, financial need is also considered for both scholarships. Applicants should submit financial aid forms like the CSS Profile to demonstrate their need for assistance to attend UVA.

Meeting these requirements does not guarantee an award, but gives applicants the best chance of earning the Jefferson Scholarship or Walentas Scholarship. With diligent preparation and a compelling application, outstanding students have a shot at winning these prestigious merit-based scholarships at the University of Virginia.

How to Apply for the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship

To apply for the prestigious Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship at the University of Virginia, you must meet the eligibility criteria and submit a strong application.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship, you must:

  • Be a current high school senior
  • Plan to enroll as a full-time student at the University of Virginia
  • Show exceptional academic achievement, leadership, character, and service
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

Application Process

The application process for these merit-based scholarships involves several components:

  1. Apply and be admitted to the University of Virginia. The deadline is January 1.
  2. Complete the Jefferson Scholarship application, including three short essays, by November 1. The essays give you the opportunity to demonstrate your accomplishments, values, and goals. Take time to craft thoughtful and compelling responses.
  3. Submit at least two recommendations from teachers who can speak knowledgeably about your abilities and potential. Ask teachers from subjects in which you have excelled and who know you well. Provide them adequate time to write a strong recommendation.
  4. Complete an interview. Finalists will be invited to interview with members of the selection committee, typically in mid-February. The interview allows the committee to evaluate applicants’ communication skills, enthusiasm, and fit for the UVA community. Be prepared to discuss your background, interests, and goals.
  5. Await the decision. The scholarship recipients will be notified by early March. Students not selected as finalists or recipients are still eligible for UVA’s merit-based aid and may receive competitive scholarships from their school.

To maximize your chances of receiving the Jefferson Scholarship or Walentas Scholarship, submit an outstanding application, focus on your strengths and goals, and convey your passion for learning during the interview. Best of luck!

Jefferson Scholarship & Walentas Scholarship Application Timeline

To be considered for the prestigious Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship at the University of Virginia, it is important to understand the application timeline and deadlines.

Applying in Your Junior Year of High School

In the winter or spring semester of your junior year, start exploring the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship on the UVA website to determine if you meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in applying. These merit-based scholarships provide a full ride to UVA, so only the top students are selected. If you decide to apply, begin preparing in the summer before your senior year.

  • Gather letters of recommendation from teachers who can speak to your intellectual curiosity and leadership abilities. Ask them in May or June to have the letters ready in September.

Applying in the Fall of Your Senior Year

  • Complete the online Jefferson Scholarship application which opens on September 1st. The application includes essay questions, a list of your activities and awards, and the contact information for your recommenders so they can submit their letters.
  • Sit for an interview with the regional selection committee in your area. Interviews take place from October through December. Be ready to discuss why you’re interested in UVA and your future goals.
  • Apply to the University of Virginia through the Common Application or Coalition Application before the January 1st deadline. Admission to UVA is required to be considered for these scholarships.

Notification and Next Steps

  • Finalists will be invited to visit UVA in February for the Finalist Weekend where you will participate in an interview and group activities.
  • Scholarship recipients will be notified in early March. If selected as a Jefferson Scholar or Walentas Scholar, you must accept the offer and commit to attending UVA by May 1st.
  • Prepare to start your journey at UVA in August! Jefferson Scholars and Walentas Scholars participate in special programming and receive additional benefits on campus.

By following these key dates and deadlines, staying on top of the application components, and demonstrating your passion for learning, you will put yourself in the best position to become a Jefferson Scholar or Walentas Scholar. Best of luck!

Jefferson Scholarship & Walentas Scholarship Frequently Asked Questions

To be considered for the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship at the University of Virginia, you must first apply and be admitted as an incoming first-year student. The application process for these merit-based scholarships is competitive, so submitting a compelling application is important.

What are the eligibility criteria?

To qualify for the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be an incoming first-year student admitted to UVA
  • Demonstrate outstanding academic achievement
  • Exhibit exceptional character, leadership, and community service

When are the deadlines?

The deadline to apply for admission to UVA is January 1st. The scholarship application deadline is January 15th. It is recommended you apply for admission in the early fall to allow enough time to submit all required scholarship materials before the January 15th due date.

What must be included in the application?

A complete Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship application includes:

  • The UVA Scholarship Application which includes two 300-word essay prompts
  • A resume highlighting your key accomplishments, activities, awards, and work experience
  • Three letters of recommendation from teachers who can speak to your abilities and potential for success at UVA
  • Official high school transcripts and SAT/ACT test scores (self-reported scores are accepted for the scholarship application)

How are recipients selected?

Recipients of the Jefferson Scholarship and Walentas Scholarship are selected based on a comprehensive review of all application materials by the UVA Scholarship Selection Committee. The committee evaluates applicants based on the following criteria:

  • Academic achievement and intellectual curiosity demonstrated by high school curriculum, GPA, and standardized test scores
  • Significant accomplishments, leadership experience, special talents, and community service evidenced in the resume and recommendations
  • The quality and content of the responses to the essay prompts which provide insight into the applicant’s character, values, and fit with UVA

Meeting the eligibility criteria and submitting a complete application are the first steps to being considered for these prestigious UVA scholarships. Applicants who demonstrate exceptional ability in and out of the classroom and articulate how they will contribute to the UVA community will be strong candidates.


You have now gained valuable insight into two of UVA’s most prestigious scholarships. While the application processes will challenge you, remain focused on conveying your achievements and potential. Craft thoughtful essays highlighting your intellectual curiosity. Seek advice from former recipients, professors who know your capabilities, and the scholarship selection committees. If you believe these scholarships align with your goals, apply with confidence. Even if unsuccessful this year, persist in developing the qualities these awards recognize. Let the scholarships guide you toward enriching academic experiences at UVA and beyond. By doing so, you build a strong foundation for future opportunities.

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