Please find below some frequently asked questions regarding  CUNY Baccalaureate scholarships.


Do you have suggestions for how to approach a faculty member for a recommendation?

Provide a faculty member with information about the scholarship that you’re applying for, information about your work and activities to refresh their memories about your achievements, and meet with them to discuss your application. A strong letter of recommendation that addresses your seriousness of purpose and academic and intellectual achievement goes a long way.

For more tips, please see these “8 Simple Steps for Requesting a Recommendation Letter,” put together by the University of Maryland.

Will CUNY BA reach out to my recommender for my recommendation?

No. It is the responsibility of the student to coordinate with your recommender to deliver the recommendation to Regina Mattews by the application deadline.

What is the ideal content of a letter of recommendation?

The recommendation letter should address your capabilities and qualifications as they relate to the scholarship for which you are applying.

If I am applying for more than one scholarship, can I submit one recommendation letter to support all of my applications?


How should my recommenders transmit their letters to CUNY BA, and who should receive them?

Please mail or fax recommendations to the attention of Regina Matthews at the CUNY BA office, or they can be emailed from a professor’s CUNY email account to:

If I have previously submitted a letter of recommendation for a scholarship in a different semester or year, do I need to submit another recommendation?

Yes, please submit a new recommendation each semester that you apply for a scholarship.This ensures that the recommendation is relevant to the scholarship and that it is up to date. All recommendations are read carefully and contribute greatly to the review of your application.

Can I ask a CUNY BA staff member to write a recommendation letter for me?

No, please do not ask a CUNY BA staff member (mentors, directors, et al) to write you a recommendation. We consider this a conflict of interest.

I submitted a letter of recommendation to CUNY BA when I applied to the program. Can’t you just use the same letter for my scholarship applications?

No. Please submit a new letter that is specific to the scholarship for which you are applying. This ensures that the recommendation is relevant to the scholarship and that it is up to date.

What is the Smith Fellowship Committee looking for when they read applications?

The Smith Fellowship recognizes academic and intellectual achievement and excellence. The committee is interested in candidates’ seriousness of purpose and depth of experience in their fields, corresponding co-curricular activities, as well as any academic honors and recognitions.  Civic and community engagement may be noted as well.

Do you have any tips for writing a strong, well-written application statement?

Be sure to answer each question fully and to the best of your ability, cite specific examples in your answers to questions, and proof-read your writing several times. Enlist the help of a friend, colleague, professor, or Writing Center representative to assist you with editing. Typos can be avoided.  And, rather than type your answers directly into the form, type and proof-read them separately, then cut and paste them onto the form instead.

Do I need a high GPA to apply for a Smith Fellowship?

GPA is not the lone factor in the committee’s decision; however, you should maintain as strong a GPA as possible and include an explanation about any low/incomplete grades. In this explanation, include your expectation of when the incomplete grade will be finished.

Who should write my letter of recommendation?

A letter of recommendation should be written by someone who knows you and your work well. If you are applying for the Thomas W. Smith Fellowship, your recommendation letter should ideally be written by your CUNY BA faculty mentor. If you are new to the CUNY BA program and do not yet have a mentor, then your recommendation for the Thomas W. Smith Fellowship can be written by another faculty member.

Does CUNY BA offer need-based scholarships?

No. CUNY BA does not take financial need into account when awarding scholarships. For need-based financial aid assistance, please contact your home college’s financial aid office.