Make an Appointment
with a Nationally Competitive Awards Writing Consultant

Support for Preparing a Competitive Award Application

The Nationally Competitive Awards (NCA) Writing consultants operate within three dimensions, helping graduate and undergraduate award applicants in the following ways:

National award focused expectations
  • Understand funding agency expectations and requirements
  • Highlight students' qualities and abilities to parallel the needs of NCA organization
  • Frame students' research, professional, and/or career interests to align with the program mission
  • Present a compelling case for their proposed research or project
  • Integrate relevant details about students' lives and experiences to develop an application that stands out and gets noticed
  • Address the specific requirements of applications, such as targeted (short-answer) questions and length limits
  • Emphasize their strengths as a candidate; re-frame their limitations and weaknesses in a positive light
  • Communicate with mentors and others in their network to arrange for letters of recommendation and other support materials

Cross-disciplinary genre expectations

    • Understand how competitive applicants develop content or subject matter in ways that meet the expectations of the funding review committee
    • Outline, organize, and coordinate their application materials
    • Articulate the significance of research topics to the field
    • Describe research methods in a clear and credible way
    • Frame, position, and weigh propositions in a coherent discussion
    • Articulate the value and contribution of their education, research, and career goals to the field
    • Critically evaluate and refine their application writing according to academic expectations
    • Understand the organization, communicative goals, and writing strategies of funding application genres (e.g., scholarships, fellowships, and grants)

    Scholarly communication conventions

    • Differentiate between writing for scholarship and fellowship applications and research or project grant applications (e.g., scholarship and fellowship applications focus on the applicant and their interests, academic/professional development, and short- and long-term goals)
    • Understand the scope, aims, audience, and quality of awards and identify appropriate funding opportunities
    • Understand ethical issues in scholarly writing
    • Understand application requirements and the selection process

    Academic and professional development

      • Identify academic writing conventions using scholarly resources
      • Locate literature relevant to students’ research focus using library search engines and resources
      • Effectively use writing technologies (e.g., electronic collections of texts, search engines for linguistic data)


      Are you seeking funding for research or field study? Contact Iowa State University's Coordinator of Nationally Competitive Awards, John Milstead (, to learn about prestigious funding opportunities. Then, get individual feedback on your application documents from CCE's NCA consultant, Kristin Terrill (

      Fulbright U.S. Student Program Information Session 

      Are you a graduate student, junior, or senior searching for opportunities to teach English, pursue graduate study, or conduct research abroad? If so, you may be interested in the Fulbright US Student Program. This is the US government’s flagship international education program designed to increase mutual understanding between US citizens and residents of other countries. (Please note: applicants must be a US citizen at the time of application.)

      Students interested in applying for nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships can now access the recording of Nationally Competitive Scholarships and Fellowships Webinar here.  Topics include: a brief overview of the awards, how to identify and select an award, the application timeline and campus process, and tips and suggestions on writing effective essays.

      Contact John Milstead (, ISU's Coordinator of Nationally Competitive Awards in University Honors, if you are interested in applying. CCE offers writing support for your application from our Nationally Competitive Awards Writing Consultant, Kristin Terrill ( Email one of these contacts today to learn more!

      Information on selecting which awards are best suited to your individual abilities and goals as well as how to prepare applications was discussed. In addition, assistance available from the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards and the Center for Communication Excellence was highlighted. Contact John Milstead ( with any questions about this webinar.