Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards

Prospective undergraduate students

Welcome! The Office of Merit Scholarships, Fellowships & Awards (OMSFA) works with students who are currently enrolled at the University of Washington. We look forward to working with you once you become a UW student. In the meantime, please review the basic information below to get started in understanding the scholarships available from UW and beyond.

Scholarship Information for Future Huskies

Incoming Freshmen

Our office is not involved in selecting or awarding scholarships to incoming freshmen, but we can provide a basic overview and starting points. The majority of scholarships UW has to offer to incoming freshmen are based entirely on the admission application; no additional application is needed, though you should complete the FAFSA to ensure maximum eligibility.

There are a few exceptions to that general rule. These scholarships available to incoming freshmen and transfer students do require separate application:

Admission-based Scholarship Opportunities:

  • APPLY FOR ADMISSION TO UW: To be considered for admissions-based scholarships, you need to submit your UW admission application by the November 15 deadline. The UW Admissions Office provides a limited number of admissions-based scholarships for incoming students (including the Purple & Gold Scholarship), along with additional information about resources and programs.
  • CONSIDER APPLYING FOR HONORS: Those interested in the UW Honors Program Admissions Scholarships should connect with the Honors Program directly for admission information and details.
  • ACADEMIC DEPARTMENT SCHOLARSHIPS: Many academic departments have scholarships they offer during the admission process to students who indicate their interest in that major/department.
  • ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS: Incoming freshman student-athletes can access information about UW athletic programs and how they support student-athletes at
  • NEED-BASED SCHOLARSHIPS & FINANCIAL AID: The Office of Student Financial Aid provides information on applying for, qualifying for, and receiving financial aid, including need-based scholarships.
  • The University of Washington does not participate, at the undergraduate level, in any programs that allow out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition.

Transfer Students

Transfer students may be able to apply concurrently for admission and scholarships offered by specific academic departments, some of which may require an additional application. Deadline dates vary with each department. Please inquire with the department(s) you are targeting.

Additionally, UW offers six scholarships open to students transferring into UW from Washington State community colleges:

  • The Martin Achievement Scholarship funds students who have demonstrated signs of exceptional ability in art, humanities, music, science and/or leadership at the community colleges. Scholars are selected early in their community college career (in the first year, or at least with one full year left to complete at the community college) and will fund, encourage and support their study and eventual transfer to the UW Seattle campus.
  • The Martin Family Foundation Honors Scholarship funds community college students of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement to complete their baccalaureate degree at UW Seattle. Scholars are selected during their transfer year.
  • The University Washington NASA Space Grant program awards the NASA Space Grant Community College Transfer Scholarship to promising community college students planning to continue their studies in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.
  • The Alan R. Spence Transfer Support Fund was established to support transfer students in their educational pursuits at the University of Washington. Dr. Spence had a long career as an educational leader at several Washington state community colleges, including 24 years at Pierce College. Valuing the community college system as a place where student can begin their journey through higher education regardless of their circumstances and backgrounds, Dr. Spence worked tirelessly to ensure that institutional barriers would not impeded a student’s ability to be successful. Every-other year the Spence Fund will award approximately two or three scholarships of up to $1000 each to UW students who entered as transfer students.
  • Domingo-Viernes Scholarship from the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies. This scholarship is awarded yearly to either graduate students or entering freshmen or transfer students to any of the University of Washington’s three campuses (Seattle, Tacoma, or Bothell). In their applications, students must show commitment to the principles of justice and equality and demonstrate financial need. Students with an interest in labor studies or a family background in labor and social justice are encouraged to apply.
  • Crabby Beach Foundation or Kathryn Hinckley-Martin Scholarships from the School of Art + Art History + Design. To be eligible for these scholarships, you must be a freshman or transfer student who has applied and been accepted to the UW, and will start as a full-time undergrad beginning Autumn quarter and is intending to major in art, art history or design at the UW School of Art + Art History + Design.

Learn more from the UW Admissions Office information regarding resources and programs.

The Office of Student Financial Aid provides information on applying for, qualifying for, and receiving financial aid, including need-based scholarships.

Incoming International Students

When enrolled at UW, international students will have access to limited institutional funding options. Though not exhaustive, the list includes merit based scholarships available through academic departments, other scholarships open to all UW students, grants that support various student experiences (for example the Mary Gates Endowment for Students) and on-campus student work positions.

U.S. immigration laws require international applicants to provide proof of financial support before the university can formally offer admission and issue appropriate immigration documents. Students, their families and sponsors must assume all financial responsibility for tuition and living expenses. It is very important that applicants review the expected expenses before deciding to apply for admission.

The UW Admissions Office provides student with information about resources and programs. International Student Services has information regarding visa requirements. Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS), a community non-profit organization, enhances international understanding and promotes cultural exchanges between UW international students and Americans.

Additional Scholarship Search Tools:

Search the list of scholarships in our database open to incoming students, some of which may be open to all students, regardless of citizenship status.

The following are online scholarship search resources for international students to search through many additional scholarship opportunities:


Search for scholarships beyond UW

There are many scholarships out there that can support your studies at UW, both from the UW itself and from local and national organizations, foundations, etc. Do some searching to maximize your options! You are welcome to search through the database of scholarships our office maintains, as well as using other scholarship search tools available to search more broadly.

Consider your options widely as well. There are scholarships geared toward academic interests, activities, heritage, identities, future goals, other personal aspects. Also, consider scholarships for both the short-term and the long-term, not just those you can apply for right now, but several years in the future as well. Document your search efforts and keep track of the scholarships that look good but for which you might not yet be eligible.

FAQs from prospective students and families

I’m an incoming student starting this fall, can I apply to scholarships now?

For everyone: We encourage you to search and apply for scholarships offered outside of the UW (from local, national international foundations, organizations, companies, etc.). The Washboard is a good place to start for local-to-Washington opportunities. Use the advising and counseling services at your current school for support.

For freshmen:  The majority of scholarships UW has to offer to incoming freshmen are based entirely on the admission application and no additional application is needed. These awarding processes are managed by UW Admissions and individual academic departments. Please review the list above of the few UW scholarships that require additional application. 

For transfer students: If you are a prospective transfer student from a community college in WA, please consider applying for the Martin Family Foundation Scholarships.

Are scholarships available for out-of-state students?

Yes. Though some scholarships at UW are set aside for in-state students, there are also many awards that don’t require WA residency.

Search for national scholarships that don’t require specific state residency and be sure to search in your home state as well. 

There are some local scholarships that define residency in their own way, differently from UW’s definition. So it’s important to read eligibility criteria carefully and fully.

Are scholarships available for international students?

Yes. Though scholarship options are more limited for international students, there are scholarships that are open to all students. Please review the information above.

What is the difference between merit-based and financial-based scholarships?

Some scholarships will require financial need as a basis for eligibility. If you are eligible, your application will still be reviewed on its merits.  Scholarships that do not require financial need for eligibility are often considered “merit-based.” 

“Merit-based” scholarships are awarded based on more than just GPA. Although selection criteria and missions vary across scholarships programs, most will highly value depth of engagement in your academic interests, community, and other areas of interest.

There are no scholarships awarded solely based on GPA and/or test scores.

Can we meet with an advisor to get a head start?

Our small office is dedicated to supporting current UW undergraduates and alumni. If you are a prospective student, we look forward to working with you once you attend UW.

If you are a current UW undergraduate, start by checking out our quick “Scholarship Search” video and plan to attend a “Getting Started” workshop. Do a little searching on your own, and then make an appointment with an advisor.

Is the OMSFA database the only place to look for scholarships?

There are a lot of terrific free resources to help you search and find scholarships. Our database is limited, and we advise you use multiple sources. Check out our search tool list here.

FAQs about the Purple & Gold Scholarships

Where can I get information about the Purple & Gold Scholarship?

The UW Admissions Office manages the selection process for the Purple & Gold Scholarship for incoming out-of-state freshmen. Disbursement of funds is managed by Student Fiscal Services. Please contact those offices for additional information.

I was offered a Purple & Gold Scholarship, who can I talk to about it?

The UW Admissions Office manages the selection process for the Purple & Gold Scholarship for incoming out-of-state freshmen. Please contact Admissions for additional information about your award. Please note that award decisions are not negotiable.

If you’ve already accepted your offer of admission to UW and have questions about how the scholarship will be disbursed to you, please contact Student Fiscal Services.

I was not offered a Purple & Gold Scholarship, who can I talk to about it?

The UW Admissions Office manages the selection process for the Purple & Gold Scholarship for incoming out-of-state freshmen. Please contact Admissions for additional questions. Please note that award decisions are not negotiable.