Invitations to Apply for UC Alumni Scholarships

If you receive an invitation to apply for alumni scholarships, know that the alumni associations obtain the contact information and general profile of applicants from the admissions office and send out invitations based on criteria the alumni associations determined to reflect the type of students they want for the scholarships (occasionally the invitations will go out to all applicants; the invited pools seem to get adjusted every year). The process is separate from admission evaluation as the alumni associations are different entities (typically they are set up as a nonprofit loosely affiliated with the university).

While students who receive an invitation tend to be high achieving students (therefore more likely to be admitted), getting an invitation is not indicative of your admission status (because the admissions office generally does NOT share admission decisions with the alumni associations at the scholarship application stage of the process and the alumni associations do NOT have any influence over admission evaluation; some UCs have adjusted their process so the scholarship award timeline match the admission decision release timeline, but that is a synchronization of two independent processes and should not be confused as the same process). Keep in mind that you may apply for the scholarships regardless of whether you received an invitation (most alumni scholarships that require a separate application will allow all applicants who meet the scholarship requirements to apply).

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Frank Copereply
January 22, 2021 at 6:42 pm

The email does not come from the alumni associations. It comes from the financial aid office, which would likely have current admissions info – since the two offices work closely together and are advised by the same faculty committee at most UC’s – CAFA Committee on Admission and Financial Aid. Also, is it accidental these emails go out right as most UCs have just finished their holistic review. Be more specific about what you know here – or just admit you don’t what info this email is based on.

Ms. Sunreply
January 22, 2021 at 10:19 pm
– In reply to: Frank Cope

I participated in the alumni scholarship application review and interview process with both Berkeley and UCLA for several years, so I had personal experience with the process.

I recommend you carefully read the email before you comment. The alumni scholarship invitation being sent out by UCLA specifically states “this invitation to apply for the Alumni Scholarship does not constitute an offer of admission nor does it infer any likelihood of admission” and that “initial evaluation [of scholarship recipients are done] by the Alumni Association Scholarship Review Committee.”

Frank Copereply
January 23, 2021 at 12:57 am

Thanks – that was much more specific about your source of information.

Ms. Sunreply
January 23, 2021 at 11:00 am
– In reply to: Frank Cope

My blog post was specifically about emails sent by the alumni associations to invite students to apply for alumni scholarships, which some of the UCs do (including, but not limited to, UCLA and Berkeley). Please read the blog post carefully before you comment and set a good example for our future generation by being courteous (I’ve seen too many applications during appeal season with PIQs that project arrogance and self-righteousness, and I hope everyone will try to be good role models for our kids online and offline).

January 23, 2021 at 8:46 am

Can the alumni association access the applicant’s whole application package including essays? I am asking this because I wonder if I can reuse some of the essays for the scholarship application.

Ms. Sunreply
January 23, 2021 at 11:08 am
– In reply to: Sunny

As far as I know, the alumni associations don’t have access to the UC Application. Scholarship evaluation is done entirely based on your scholarship application (that also means you should not depend on the evaluators to know anything about you other than what you put on the scholarship application).

January 23, 2021 at 5:45 pm

so are there some applicants who do not get this e-mail based off their application stats? UCLA alum e-mail goes out to everyone or just high stat kids who are screened with some criteria…

Ms. Sunreply
January 24, 2021 at 9:13 am
– In reply to: SCGB

There are always people who don’t get the email, but whether that’s because they don’t check their spam folder or because they weren’t invited is difficult to determine. I remember one year the online crowdsourced speculation was that everyone with 3.0 GPA or better got the email, so I think the invited pool gets adjusted every year (kind of makes sense, given the applicant pool is different every year and the alumni association may also adjust their strategy based on application numbers/quality from the previous year).

January 24, 2021 at 12:31 am

Do you know if everyone got the email this year? And what is looked at as “high achieving”? Is it your grades, essays, extra curriculars, etc? Or just grades?

Ms. Sunreply
January 24, 2021 at 9:19 am
– In reply to: Jane

I believe for the alumni scholarships, the invitations go out mostly based on GPA. I think the alumni association can ask the admissions office to apply screening criteria (such as leadership) to generate the invitation list, but it’s not like the admissions office is handing applicant information to the alumni association for screening (there’s a limit to what the university can share with the alumni association, which is considered an outside agency and not part of the university).

Even if you are not invited, you can still apply (the scholarship is open to all who meet the eligibility criteria). Even if you are invited, you are not guaranteed admission to the campus. When I was involved in the process, something like up to 50% of the scholarship applicants end up not being offered admission.

January 24, 2021 at 3:32 pm

Thank you! How many students will eventually get the scholarship? What is the percentage among all UCLA admission?

Ms. Sunreply
January 25, 2021 at 11:38 am
– In reply to: Sunny

If I remember correctly, the number of scholarships varied a bit depending on the scholarship funding for the year (from endowment and/or raised from alumni donors). There are also a number of different scholarships offered to freshman and transfer applicants (I remember there were at least three or four separate scholarships, including a legacy scholarship, an out-of-state scholarship, and a disadvantaged scholarship).

When I was involved in the process (a long time ago), I think students had a one in two chance of getting the scholarship once they make it to the interview round (I’m not sure if there is still an interview process, seems like the final selection is now delegated to the financial aid office). The chance of passing through the initial screening varied depending on the number of applications (it was still district-based when I was involved; I believe the review process is now centrally managed instead of district-based).

January 25, 2021 at 12:08 pm
– In reply to: Ms. Sun

Thank you so much all the valuable information!

Ms. Sunreply
January 25, 2021 at 12:20 pm
– In reply to: Sunny

I’m happy to help!

January 29, 2021 at 2:21 am

On the page for information regarding the UCLA Alumni Scholarship, it says that “Applicants must attend UCLA beginning the fall quarter immediately after the application cycle.” Does this mean that if I get the scholarship, I am required to go to UCLA?

Ms. Sunreply
January 29, 2021 at 10:28 am
– In reply to: Catherine

IF you are admitted to UCLA AND you are awarded the scholarships, you can ONLY receive the scholarship IF you attend UCLA. If you go somewhere else, the scholarship does NOT go with you.

UCLA boundreply
January 30, 2021 at 7:27 pm

Why would you work on a scholarship application if you don’t know if you’ve been accepted yet? The app deadline is before decisions come out. If you got the email does it at least mean your app has been favorably received by admissions?

Ms. Sunreply
January 30, 2021 at 8:09 pm
– In reply to: UCLA bound

That is an excellent question that you should ask the UCLA Alumni Association. Berkeley used to do the same thing, but the Cal Alumni Association redesigned the process a little while ago so that students apply AFTER they have received their admission offer.

Like I mentioned in my response to a previous comment, when I was involved in the scholarship process, something like up to 50% of the scholarship applicants end up not being offered admission. I don’t know what the stats look like now, but I know the alumni association doesn’t get the admission decisions until really close to the decision release date (like a day or two before) so the invitations are not based on the that.

February 12, 2021 at 8:38 pm

Hi Ms. Sun,
So you said in the post that students who receive the email invite tend to be high-achieving students. Do you know if this is still the case? I see a lot of people on forums like Reddit and CC stating that as of 2020, the invite goes out to everyone regardless of their stats, but that in the years 2019 and prior the invites were sent to the top 20% of applicants (the claim of “4000 people get the invite” seems to be a popular one). The general consensus online, however, seems to be that a much larger percentage of applicants received invites for 2020 and 2021 than previous years. Would you be able to shed some light on this? Thanks in advance!

Ms. Sunreply
February 13, 2021 at 8:46 am
– In reply to: M.G.

I recall one year where pretty much anyone with a 3.0 or better received an invitation. Since I’m no longer personally involved with the process, I don’t have any “inside information” to share besides my past experiences and what can be found on the alumni scholarship websites.

What I can say, from my past experiences, is that administrative decisions (such as who to invite) tended to have no rhyme or reason, partly because there was an extremely high turnover rate at most alumni associations (new people came in almost every year and tried different things) and partly because there didn’t seem to be any kind of standard procedures in place (everyone reinvented the wheel every time). There was also an extreme reliance on alumni volunteers (which I think most alumni associations have stopped doing now), which I think made the problem worse (staff had very little accountability).

I wouldn’t take the email invitation too seriously. It’s simply a recruitment tool to inform students of the scholarships (students on scholarships likely have a higher retention rate and tend to, both as students and alumni, be more active). Because of timing (some scholarships require students to apply before admission offers are made), a significant percentage of scholarship applicants won’t actually be admitted (I think it was around 50% when I was involved; I imagine the percentage is higher now given the plummeting admit rate) and the alumni associations have to encourage more students to apply to produce adequate competition for the scholarships (so it makes sense that more invitations go out).

Personally, I think bad timing for the scholarship applications is bad faith on the part of the alumni associations perpetrating it; why encourage students to apply when they don’t know if they will even be admitted? Sure, students who end up getting admitted and getting the scholarships will become fanatic fans of the campus, but those who don’t get admitted will be more devastated. Some alumni associations have gotten away from that but others have not (but one of them did make changes to stop wasting alumni volunteers’ time by screening out scholarship applications from students who were not offered admission).

This is why I simply don’t encourage students to read into the invitation. What the alumni associations, in conjunction with the campuses (high retention rate and alumni donation benefit the campuses as well), are trying to accomplish with the scholarships are far more complicated than who gets the email and who doesn’t.

February 13, 2021 at 10:27 am

Thank you so much for your prompt and detailed reply. I really do appreciate it.

Ms. Sunreply
February 13, 2021 at 11:15 am
– In reply to: M.G.

I’m happy to help!

February 20, 2021 at 11:07 pm

Hi Ms. Sun,

If there is no indication that receiving the invitation to apply for the Alumni Scholarship means getting accepted, do you recommend still applying for it? Because if I don’t apply and I was invited, I don’t want my acceptance chances to be affected…

Thank you.

Ms. Sunreply
February 21, 2021 at 1:05 pm
– In reply to: K.N.

There is no need to apply to the scholarship if you are not interested (although, if you are competitive for the scholarship, you should consider applying; the minimum amount is $1,500 per year but you can compete to get up to $5,000 per year, and the perks are pretty good). Based on the disclosed process and my own experience, I estimate that UCLA won’t even find out if you applied to the scholarship until after the admission decisions have been finalized.

February 28, 2021 at 9:32 am

I received the email and read the information. It doesn’t seem they are doing an interview anymore as there is nothing mentioned in criteria and process regarding an interview. “By completing one application you will be considered to receive one of the many scholarships provided through the Alumni Scholars Program. The first round of Alumni Scholarship offers are made to top ranked scholars within a week of UCLA Admissions decisions”
Do you have insight on this?

Ms. Sunreply
February 28, 2021 at 11:46 am
– In reply to: PJ

I believe UCLA got rid of the interview last year or two years ago. The scholarship process has gone through a lot of changes within the last few years. I’m not sure if that was prompted by the scandal, the state scrutiny, and/or the pandemic; but I’m hopeful the process will change for the better (Berkeley revamped the process to start scholarship application AFTER admission decisions are released; fingers crossed UCLA will eventually do that).

March 20, 2021 at 9:35 am

As a parent, I have to state that the way UCLA (and the Alumni Association) handle this process is cruel. Getting invited to apply for an elite scholarship gets your hopes up that you have a great chance of being admitted (despite the notice that it is not an offer of admission). I mean, why would they take the time and effort to read your application if you weren’t going to get in, right? Plus, the application for the scholarship is nearly as long as the application for the University! They want all your personal information, you have to write about your extracurriculars, honors/awards, etc. and write two essays. Why would you ask kids to spend so many hours, not to mention stress and worry, working on a scholarship that they then are not eligible for when they are not accepted to the University? They really, really need to think about what they are doing to these kids and fix their process. It really wouldn’t be a big deal to move the application deadline back by a few weeks until after acceptances are announced.

Ms. Sunreply
March 20, 2021 at 11:50 am
– In reply to: Alora

I agree. Right now the alumni volunteers do not review the scholarship applications until after the non-admitted students are screened out (this has become a way to predict when UCLA will release decisions; the scholarship application review occurs the weekend after the decision date and the news always gets out from one source or another). The alumni association used to make the volunteers review all of the scholarship applications, select the recipients, then wait for the decisions to come out to screen out the non-admitted recipients, then announce the results to students; so, in some ways, the current process is a significant improvement (for the volunteers, not students).

Berkeley used to have a similar process, but changed it a while back so students apply after they have been admitted.

The reason why it’s set up in such an awful way is because it allows UCLA to use this to get students excited about enrolling. Students who applied and received admission offer and the scholarship are “more sticky” (more likely to enroll, more loyal to the campus, more active as students and alumni, etc.). But the process is devastating to the students who don’t get in (but UCLA or the alumni association doesn’t need to care about that because it doesn’t affect their end goal). There is no incentive for them to change the process, other than being nicer to applicants, but I never got the impression that UCLA cared about that either.

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