Become A CPA

Become A CPA

Everything You Need to Know About Applying for a $5,000 Accounting Scholarship

by Monette Anderson, Academic Relations Coordinator | Jan 12, 2016

Win a $5,000 accounting scholarship or shelve booksDid you know the Washington CPA Foundation is giving out 40 $5,000 scholarships? If you’ve been so occupied with acing fall quarter accounting classes, researching the CPA exam requirements or rocking your BAP leadership role that this is the first you’re hearing of it, you still have about a month to apply for the WA CPA Scholarship and score your share of $200,000. We hosted a Scholarship Open House at Seattle University and are hosting another information session at the University of Washington from 12:30-1:20 pm on Wednesday, January 20th. These information sessions are a great way to get a live overview of the scholarship application, ask questions, and get tips on answering the short essay questions and soliciting reference letters, and we want to make sure we have the information available to all applicants. Here are some of the main elements of the application and tips to make your application stand out.

What you’ll need:

  • Current resume
  • Transcripts (official or unofficial from all colleges attended)
  • Documentation of accounting major (having “accounting” listed as major on current transcript will suffice)
  • Two letters of recommendation on company or university letterhead
    • At least one must be from a faculty member, employer, mentor or a licensed CPA. Letters of reference must be submitted through the online portal.


The resumes are an important part of the application and it’s worth noting that we limited questions about community involvement and volunteerism on the application as we expected that information to be listed on the resume. So be sure your resume includes not only jobs but also internships, volunteer positions and leadership roles on campus or in the community.

Essay Questions:

Two of the essay questions in the application have a 500 word limit and one is unlimited. The questions include:

  1. Why do you want to be a CPA? Who inspired you and/or what excites you about becoming a CPA over other finance and accounting careers. (500 words or less)
  2. How will this scholarship help you meet your education and career goals? (500 words or less)
  3. Tell us three things you would like the review committee to know that are not listed elsewhere on the application.

Refrain from stating that your reason to be a CPA is that you “love accounting,” as it’s assumed that you love accounting if you are pursuing the CPA examination. Personalize your responses, talk about when it “clicked” that you wanted to be a CPA or something unique about your story or response that will set you apart from other candidates. Question 3 is a huge opportunity to set yourself apart and tell your story. What you hope to accomplish as a CPA or how you plan to give back can really help the interview panel relate to you.


References are a key component of your application. Check out these tips for requesting references. This year’s new online application format allows you to request and receive references right from the scholarship portal, send reminders to your contact and know when they’ve been completed.

  •  A requirement of the WA CPA Foundation scholarship is that one of the two letters must be from a faculty member, employer, mentor or licensed CPA. Other options are a Counselor, TA, Church Leader, or Volunteer Coordinator.
  • Make sure the person you ask will write something favorable. When asking them you can say, “Do you feel comfortable writing me a strong recommendation?”
  • Provide a letter of intent with your resume. The letter should state details about what you are applying for, why you are a good fit, why you think the person writing the reference can give the most insight on you as a candidate, and sum up some of your goals, accomplishments, etc.
  • 3-4 weeks of lead time is standard. More lead time for references is always encouraged and 2 is usually acceptable.
  • Ask confidently! Though it feels like an imposition most professors consider this a part of their job, and everyone has been in your position in the past and can relate to what it feels like.

Now that you are equipped with all the knowledge and confidence you need, put those New Year’s intentions to good use and log in at Since the application is online, you can start now and log in to finish the application over the next month and all your information will be stored until you’re ready to submit. Just make sure you skip ahead to that reference section fairly soon to make those requests. 
Good luck!

Monette AndersonMonette Anderson, Academic Relations Coordinator

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The Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants is the only organization in the state of Washington dedicated to serving the professional needs of CPAs, educating consumers about CPAs and the services they provide, and encouraging students to study accounting and enter the profession.

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