Frequently Asked Questions


Is the Renaissance Scholars Program an income or minority based scholarship?

This scholarship is for first generation, financially needy, high achieving students. We look at students’ academic success and ability (students need a 3.0 GPA to apply), extra-curricular activities, personal challenges and obstacles, financial situation and need, and recommendation letters. We also interview candidates who make it past the first round to learn even more about the applicant.

What scholarships are available to prospective students?

The Renaissance Scholars program is open to current high school seniors, high school graduates, and college freshmen/sophomores, and an Oregon based community college student who has completed at least one year and is planning to transfer. Find all eligibility requirements here.

We also offer school-specific scholarships. Portland State University offers the Renaissance Scholars Program application through their online scholarship application website portal. Find more information here

Portland State University Graduate students interested in the Graduate School of Education may also apply for the PSU GSE scholarship. Find more information here

Lewis and Clark graduate students interested in the Graduate School of Education can apply for the L&C GSE scholarship. Find more information here

Where can I find the application(s)?

TRF is happy to announce that our Renaissance Scholars Program application will now be a user-friendly, you can find the application link on our program page:

(Note: the application cycle may be closed during certain times while processing so you may not be able to start an application until it opens again.) All applicants may apply via this link. You will need to sign up for an account using the system and the website host will automatically send you email updates regarding your application. If access to the internet or computer technology is a difficulty, please contact to request a paper application and instructions on how to submit.

Alternatively, applicants who plan to attend Portland State University may opt to apply through the PSU scholarship system. Our application is separate from the main PSU scholarship application so be sure to select the Renaissance Scholars Program application once you have created an account.

PSU GSE application is also available on PSU’s scholarship portal

Lewis and Clark GSE is available on their website.

What does TRF look for when selecting recipients?

The application review is commenced by our committee members and they look at all components of the application. We look for applicants with a history of academic success or progress, financial need, and passion.
Your transcripts tell us a bit about you, but we find out more, with your help, from your essays and recommendation letters. It is important to pick essay topics that reflect who you are. We love when applicants are personable and honest. Only the committee members see the application materials so there is no need to worry that someone might judge you or share your information. Be honest and show who you really are.

How can the scholarship be used?

This scholarship is contingent on acceptance to a four-year university and will be disbursed directly to the school from The Renaissance Foundation. Funds will be divided equally over each term and will be disbursed at the beginning of each term. You must enroll for and complete a full load of classes each term, remain in academic good standing at the institution, and maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. The Renaissance Scholarship is renewable for up to three additional years (up to $4,000 per year, based on need that school year) with the same criteria. Awarded funds will not exceed $16,000. This scholarship is a responsive, need-based award.

Should you go on to receive a full-ride scholarship or have less than $4,000 per year of unmet need from your college or another organization, your Renaissance award could be reduced or waived. Use of scholarship funds for books and other non-tuition educational expenses will occur at the discretion of The Renaissance Foundation.


I have DACA status or am an undocumented student. Can I apply?

Undocumented and DACA students are encouraged to apply for the Renaissance Scholars Program as long as they meet all the criteria for the application (ie. first-generation student, financial need, etc.) DACA students typically cannot file the FAFSA so these applicants will need to provide some other documents for the financial document component of the application, like the ORSAA. Parental tax forms or a statement of financial need may work in place of a copy of the ORSAA or tax forms for undocumented and DACA applicants.

I am not a current high school senior (gap year or non-traditional student). Can I apply?

Students who take time off between graduating high school and starting at 4-year institution may still apply for the Renaissance Scholars Program, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria for the application.

Are international students eligible?

International students living in the US who plan on continuing their education at a 4-year US institution are welcome to apply for the Renaissance Scholars program. International students are also welcome to apply for the GSE scholarships at PSU and Lewis & Clark.

How does TRF define first-generation?

<p>We define first generation student as the first in your immediate family to attend a four-year institution. Students who have a parent or sibling who have obtained a bachelor’s degree do not qualify for the Renaissance Scholars Program. Students with older siblings currently attending a 4 year university with the intent to receive a bachelor’s degree also do not qualify. First-generation students who meet these criteria typically have more obstacles in reaching higher education, as no one in their immediate family has gone through the process of applying, enrolling, and attending a 4 year university. Students who are thinking of applying and have a parent or sibling who attended a community college or attended a 4-year institution but did not receive a degree may still apply but depending on the circumstances of the applicant, may not be considered after further discussion of circumstances.</p>

<p>If there any specific circumstances where the applicant is unsure about whether their application will be considered or not, please email before applying.</p>

How do I demonstrate financial need?

We typically consider financial need by looking at the applicant’s financial information as a whole, including annual household income and number of persons in household, but generally we first look at Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) which is pulled from the FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR). Students with an EFC of $6,000 or higher are typically not considered unless there are other circumstances to consider. You can find your SAR by following these steps: Save the document and attach it to your application.

If a student cannot file the FAFSA due to citizenship, they may submit their parents most recent tax forms to show their financial status.

If students have a higher EFC but something does not accurately represent their financial situation, students can submit a document explaining the circumstances attached with the other financial documents.

If students have particular scenarios they wish to inquire about, please email


When does the application open? What are the deadlines?

The Renaissance Scholars Program staff updated our scholarship deadlines last year to streamline our processing. Our application generally opens about two months before the deadline. We have three rounds of applications each year with the following deadlines:

  • December 15th
  • February 1st
  • May 1st

All items including letters of recommendation must be received by the deadline if the applicant wishes to be considered. Applicants should remind their recommenders as the deadline approaches.

What all do I need to submit with my online application?

  • All required questions on the application including contact info, school information, and familial information.
  • Two written essays, Write two essays, each 500 words or less:

    First essay, answer the following topic:

    • Describe a significant personal challenge or problem, how it affected you, how you overcame or tried to overcome the problem, and what you learned about yourself in the process.

    Second essay, answer one of the following topics (your choice):

    • How would your best friend describe your character?  How would your worst enemy describe your character?
    • Who is your primary role model (cannot be a family member)? Why? What have you learned from this person that has shaped your character and goals?
    • Describe your career as you imagine it 10 years from now,
    • Introduce yourself to us so that we may get to know you better—your personality, best and worst traits, future goals and passion around your field of study.
  • An online letter of recommendation from an academic source
  • An online letter of recommendation from another source (counselor, teacher, mentor, boss, co-worker, etc.)


Paper copies of these items should be scanned and then uploaded to your online application or electronic copies of these items should be uploaded to the application.

  • A copy of your high school transcript
  • A copy of all your college transcripts
  • A copy of your SAT/ACT scores (if you did not take these tests, attach a statement stating so)
  • A copy of your financial information: (at least one of the following should be attached)
    • A copy of your FAFSA Student Aid Report (SAR) or ORSAA copy
    • A copy of your parents most recent tax paperwork (paperwork like the OR-40 form or similar paperwork)
    • Statement on financial situation (if parent does not file taxes, did not file FAFSA/ORSAA, or something in your paperwork does not accurately reflect your current financial situation)

A helpful app you can download on your phone for scanning documents is called “Genius Scan.” It allows you to take photos of documents and then automatically turns them into PDF form. Then you can email to yourself or others to have on your computer for the application. We understand computer, scanning, and email access can be a challenge for students, so we are able to make accommodations for applicants who are needing assistance.

Can I print and mail the application? Or only online?

As of September 2019, our application is solely available through our online application. Please see the link on our program page:

The application requires documents to be attached to the application. This can be done by scanning paper documents and creating .pdf/.doc/.jpeg document that can be attached to your online application.

A helpful app you can download on your phone for scanning is called “Genius Scan.” It allows you to take photos of documents and then automatically turns them into PDF form. Then you can email to yourself or others to have on your computer for the application. We understand computer, scanning, and email access can be a challenge for students, so we are able to make accommodations for applicants who are needing assistance.

How do I submit my high school and college transcripts for my application?

Transcripts do not need to be official and should hopefully not cost you money to acquire. High school and college transcripts can be unofficial and must be submitted through the online application. You can request an electronic copy if your school provides this option.

There is no need to send an official transcript in the mail, separate from your online application. Transcripts should be scanned and saved onto your computer to be uploaded to your online application. A helpful app you can download on your phone for scanning documents is called “Genius Scan.” It allows you to take photos of documents and then automatically turns them into PDF form. Then you can email to yourself or others to have on your computer for the application. We understand computer, scanning, and email access can be a challenge for students, so we are able to make accommodations for applicants who are needing assistance.

If you don’t have the required high school transcript:

  1. Contact your high school. If you graduated many years ago and they cannot provide a copy to you, ask them where you can obtain one.
  2. If unsuccessful try the School District Administration Office if the high school was a public high school.

If you don’t have the required college transcript(s):

  • Contact the college or school you attended or log into your student portal to access online. If your records are on hold because you owe them money or some other reason, you will need to make arrangements with them to release your records.
  • If you attended an Oregon college that has closed, try to get the transcript from the Oregon Department of Education. The State of Oregon only maintains transcripts for colleges up to 25 years after the closure.

If the closed college was outside of Oregon, then contact the state agency overseeing the institution in the state the college was located.

How do I submit my Student Aid Report (SAR) from FAFSA?

You can get a copy of your SAR by logging in to using your FSA ID and selecting the “View or Print your Student Aid Report (SAR)” option near the middle of the “My FAFSA” page. Save this document to your computer and upload to your online application. Your EFC is listed on the first page of the SAR.

Whether you receive your SAR online or on paper depends on whether you provide an email address on your FAFSA form.

If you provide a valid email address, you’ll receive an email from with instructions on how to access an online copy of your SAR. If you don’t provide a valid email address on your FAFSA form, you will receive either a SAR or a SAR Acknowledgement via postal mail.

How can I tell if my recommendation letters have been received?

When you are looking at your application, under the recommendation section, it lists the name of your recommender and then a bit lower it says “Request sent: MM/DD/YY” and then below that it says “Request received: ___.” If your recommender has not submitted yet, it will say “pending.” If it has been received, it will list the date and time received. You will also receive an email to the email you signed up with once your recommenders have submitted their letters.

How can I tell if an item has been uploaded correctly?

You can tell an item has been uploaded by looking below the select button. There is some text that says “Uploaded file: name_of_your_file.pdf (1 MB)” If you see this then your document is attached.

What happens once my application is submitted?

Once you have inputted all the information and uploaded all the documents required of you, you will submit your application. However, our application is not really complete until your recommenders submit their letters online as well. Once your recommender has submitted their letter, you will receive an email to whichever email you used to set up your account. When both recommenders have submitted, you will receive a confirmation email letting you know that your application is officially complete and being considered for review.

Our committee members read the applications and decide who moves on to be interviewed. After interviews take place, students are informed of the final decision via email.

Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Contact us with your questions.