Mary Gates Endowment For Students

FAQ Leadership Scholarship


I'm not sure if my project qualifies me for this scholarship. What should I do?

If you have questions about your specific project, we recommend coming to the information sessions, which occur a few weeks before the application deadline. You are also welcome contact us or make an individual appointment to discuss your proposal.

How developed does my project have to be when I apply?

Most students who are successful in the leadership scholarship application process are those who are beyond the “idea” stage and have begun planning or implementing their ideas. Planning may include such activities as making contact with involved persons, scheduling and organizing meetings, recruiting volunteers or participants, writing a mission statement, or getting elected to office. The scholarship committee members need to be able to imagine you in action. If you are unsure of whether you are far enough along in your project to be a successful candidate for a Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship, please contact us and we would be happy to meet with you.

Can I defer my scholarship to a different quarter if my plans change?

If your plans change you may be able to change your funding quarters among winter, spring and summer, but you cannot defer your scholarship into the following academic year. Please contact us at to request a quarter change.

Can I apply for a research scholarship and a leadership scholarship at the same time?

Yes, it is possible to apply for research and leadership scholarships at the same time; however, you may only receive the financial award for one Mary Gates scholarship at a time.

Can I receive a second Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship?

Yes, previous award recipients are eligible to apply for a second scholarship. Please see eligibility information for more details.

If I am a transfer student or transferred at some point in my undergraduate education, should I submit unofficial transcripts for past schools?

If you are just entering UW as a student, you should obtain unofficial transcripts from your former institution. If you have been at UW for more than a quarter, your unofficial UW transcript will include grades and transcripts from previous institutions.

Strengthening Your Application

I unsuccessfully applied for a Leadership Scholarship in a previous quarter. What should I do to strengthen my application?

If you are planning to reapply for a Leadership Scholarship, we strongly encourage you to schedule a feedback appointment with us to review your previous application. A member of the reading or interview committee is prepared to provide that feedback to you and would look forward to the opportunity to talk with you about your proposal. To receive feedback on your application or interview, contact the person named in your notification email or contact us.

Will it help my application if I am doing multiple leadership activities?

There is no general answer to this question. It depends on the activities, what kinds of skills you are trying to gain, etc. It is possible that multiple leadership activities may be tied together for a strong, cohesive application, but it is also possible that focusing on a specific project is the best way for you to develop focused leadership skills. Keep in mind that we are looking for the depth and quality of your leadership experience, which you will need to balance with your academic studies.

Can I have more than one mentor letter?

No. You can have only one mentor support your application. If there is a second person who is also a mentor for you, you can discuss this in your essay. If you receive a scholarship, it is important for you to let us know if your mentor changes during the award period.

How important is the mentor letter?

It is essential that you choose a mentor who will have the time and make the commitment to work with you. The amount of support scholars need from their mentors varies, but they need to be available for you. To that end, your mentor letter is a crucial part of your application. Be sure to give your mentor enough time to craft a letter for you that speaks to their willingness to support you and the how they will work with you to encourage your work with you to develop your leadership abilities.

How competitive is the process? On average, how many scholarships are awarded?

Leadership scholarships are very competitive. On average, about one third of leadership applicants receive awards. (This award percentage may change due to economic conditions).


How will my scholarship affect my financial aid?

Every case will be different depending on your financial aid package. We ask the Office of Student Financial Aid to review each award recipient’s eligibility for the money. For the amount that the Office approves, we place the money onto your student account so that you may use the money as you wish. (Preferably it goes through the direct deposit process to your own bank account.) Exception: If Financial Aid tells us that you cannot receive any or only a portion of the money they will sometimes be able to replace a loan with the balance or portion of the scholarship money you were not eligible for otherwise. If you receive financial aid, it is important that you check with the financial aid office to see how receiving this award would affect your package.

If I am awarded a Leadership Scholarship, when will I receive the money?

You will receive the money during the second week of the two quarters for which you requested funding. If your money does not disburse, double check that you set up your UW direct deposit. Contact Mary Gates Endowment staff if you still do not receive your award disbursement.

If I receive other funding for my project, can I receive a Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship?

If you have other scholarships, fellowships, awards or stipends supporting your project and are also selected for a Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship, you may not be eligible to receive the full amount of the award. The Mary Gates Endowment scholarship program reserves the right to adjust funding to promote equity among awardees. We may use information provided by the Office of Student Financial Aid/FAFSA to determine award amounts. Each student’s case is dealt with on an individual basis. If you would like to discuss your situation, please contact Mary Gates Endowment staff.