Scholarships: Frequently Asked Questions

Scholarship FAQs

Learn more about the scholarship application process below.

How do I apply for a scholarship?

Visit our Available Scholarships page to view current opportunities. OCCF administers the AVID and HEEF Scholarship Programs along with a few other scholarship opportunities through Academic Works, and partners with Scholarship America to disburse funds and provide students access to a wider range of scholarship opportunities.


To apply for a scholarship opportunity through Scholarship America, follow the directions on the site to create a user account and apply to your desired scholarship opportunity/ies.


To apply for a scholarship on, you must have your own user account. To create a new user account, click the “Sign Up” button to enter your email address. An email containing a confirmation link will be sent to you from Once your account is confirmed, you will be able to create a personalized password and start a “General Application”. Any application question marked with an asterisk (*) requires an answer.

If you’ve already applied to scholarships on this site before, please “Sign In” with your existing username and password. If you have forgotten your password, click “Trouble Signing In?” to receive an email with a link to reset your password.

After completing the General Application, review “Opportunities” and click “Apply” next to opportunities you wish to apply to. You must apply to each scholarship that you wish to be considered for individually. Please note that some scholarships require additional questions; you have not actually applied until you have clicked “Apply” next to an opportunity.

What is the next step?

The general application asks questions regarding your contact information, your school, your leadership activities, essay questions, and financial status. The general application helps set up your student profile and match you to some scholarship opportunities that you may qualify for. Once you complete all required questions, click “Finish and Continue.” You MUST answer all questions next to an asterisk. After you complete this step, review “Recommended Opportunities” and click “Apply” next to opportunities you wish to apply to. You must apply to each scholarship that you wish to be considered for individually. Please note that some scholarships require additional questions; you have not actually applied until you have clicked apply next to an opportunity.

How do I know if my application is complete?

Once you have successfully applied for an opportunity, click on “applications” on the left-hand side of the page. You should see “complete” under General Applications. Individual scholarships that you have successfully applied for will be visible under “Active” and you should see “Submitted” on the upper right-hand corner of the box.

When will I be notified if I receive an award?

Notifications will be sent via email when the selection process is complete. Generally you will be notified within 6-8 weeks after the scholarship closes. If selected, you will receive an award packet electronically or in the mail containing an award letter, and an award agreement.

How do I claim my scholarship?

To claim your scholarship, you must submit Award Agreement and Proof of Enrollment forms. Submission instructions are provided in each recipient’s award packet which is sent electronically by email. Documents are submitted by uploading your documents to the website you used to apply for the scholarship. Sign in and answer all required questions.

Will my check be sent directly to me?

No. Once you submit all required documents, the award check is mailed directly to your educational institution and is added to your financial aid package.

What does my scholarship cover?

Scholarships from the Orange County Community Foundation are to be used for educational expenses only. If any portion of the scholarship is applied to expenses other than tuition and books (e.g. room and board, transportation, etc.), it is the student’s responsibility to declare it as income on their tax return. It is also the student’s responsibility to maintain appropriate financial documentation regarding their scholarship award and educational expenses; the Foundation does not provide any tax documents.

Where do I send documents?

You may upload your documents to the website you used to apply for the scholarship.

Will my scholarship be sent all at once?

Scholarships of over $3,000 are split into two payments per the award agreement included in your award packet.

If you have not yet registered for classes, you can still first submit your award agreement and then send your proof of enrollment separately. Please note that all scholarship materials must be submitted by the deadline stated. It is your responsibility to contact the Foundation if you are unable to meet a deadline.

What do I do if I am not enrolled full-time but am waitlisted for classes?

If you are not enrolled in enough units to be considered a full-time student, but you are wait-listed for classes, we ask that you wait until you meet “full-time” enrollment status. You may submit a proof of enrollment form as long as you meet the required units to be considered full-time.

I turned in all of my paperwork, when will my award be sent out?

Once the Foundation has received the required documents, your award is processed and a check is mailed to your school. Please note that the Foundation runs on a weekly check cycle, therefore requests must be in by Monday and checks will be mailed the following Monday so students must give a lead time of 2-3 weeks. Please keep in mind that when your check is released depends on when your documents are received. An email is sent to each recipient once their check is mailed. Please allow a few days for the check to arrive and be processed by your financial aid office. Checks are payable to both you and your school. Be aware that not all schools will notify you that the check was received. It is your responsibility to go to the financial aid office to endorse (sign) the check. Once this is done, the check will be processed by your school and added to your financial aid package.

I received an email saying my check was mailed. How long does it take to arrive at my school?

Checks are sent via U.S. mail. Your school should receive the check within one week. Keep in mind that it may also take your school a few days to process the funds.

How do I know that my check has been sent and that my school has received it?

You will be sent an email when your check is mailed. Some schools notify students when they have received the check. It is the student’s responsibility to contact their school’s financial aid office to endorse (sign) the check.

I received an email saying my check had been mailed and my school says they have not received it. What do I do?

Allow a few days for the check to arrive at your school’s financial aid office. Each school processes outside scholarships differently. Even after the check is received by the school it may not be recorded immediately. Be sure to check with your school’s financial aid office.

What is acceptable proof of enrollment?

Acceptable proof of enrollment must include:

  • Student name
  • School name
  • Number of units in which you are enrolled (and classes if possible)
  • School term for which you will receive your aid for (This document must come from your educational institution. An unofficial transcript or a progress report from your student portal is acceptable).

Any documentation from an online source must contain a URL for authentication.

We ask that you attach documents when emailing the Foundation. Do not simply copy and paste information into an email. Copy and paste documents or links to online documents will not be accepted due to student privacy laws. If multiple attempts to submit required documentation are unsuccessful, we may require an official transcript. Do not copy and paste, do not send Word documents, and do not attempt to submit altered documents.

How do I claim my second payment?

To claim your second payment you must submit a transcript of your progress. Please be sure the transcript includes classes for the upcoming semester or quarter.

I changed my email address and did not receive an award packet or a renewal packet. What do I do?

OCCF uses the email address provided by the student on their initial application. Please note that you must check this email address for the duration of your award.

How do I know if my scholarship is renewable?

Students with renewable scholarships are notified with their initial award via email. It is also stated on your award agreement.

How do I renew my scholarship?

To renew your scholarship for the following academic year, there is a renewal application that must be submitted to the Orange County Community Foundation by the deadline that is specified on the application. Emails are sent to students with renewable scholarships.

I submitted my renewal application but have not heard anything back. What should I do?

When submitting you renewal application, be sure to include all required materials: official transcript from your educational institution and a progress essay as explained in the application. After we have received your completed application, you are notified via email of your application approval. If you are not approved, you will receive an email explaining why you were not approved. Students with missing materials are contacted via email. Be sure to update us on any changes that occur with your email address.

What if I have enough financial aid to cover my first year?

You may request a deferral for up to one year.

Will my scholarship affect my financial aid?

Scholarship funds are not intended to replace need-based funding opportunities (such as a CAL grant, PELL grant or private school grant). Rather, scholarship funds should help reduce the amount a student needs to borrow and offset their cost of attendance.

Can I still receive my scholarship if I change schools?

If you change the educational institution it is your responsibility to contact OCCF immediately. In some cases, a student may be able to maintain their scholarship. It is possible that the scholarship may be rescinded.

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Elaine Chen Director, Donor & Community Engagement

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