The next application season for UMHEF scholarships opens soon on January 1! If you or a student in your life is hoping to attend a United Methodist-related school for the 2023-2024 year, now is the time to get ready to apply for available awards.

Here are 3 things you can do NOW to prepare:

  • Review our scholarship programs for details and to make sure you meet the eligibility requirements.
  • Planning to apply for the UM Dollars or Scholars program? Contact your sponsoring church now to make sure they’re able to provide the initial $1,000 award. (If your church doesn’t have funds budgeted, consider sharing these fundraising tips!)
  • The General Named Endowed Scholarships require letters of recommendation from your pastor and a teacher/professor. Now’s a great time to identify these persons and let them know to watch for an email inviting them to do so after you submit your application.

BONUS TIPS: Check out our FAQs page for answers to commonly asked questions. Want a convenient reference for our award process? Download the 2023 Scholarship Guide.

Wondering what to include in care packages for your college student? We asked some of our UMHEF scholarship recipients what they’d most like to get. Here’s a list of some of those items, plus a few ideas to put some extra care into those care packages.

College Care Package Ideas

Most Requested Items

It may come as no surprise that the most requested item students would love to get in a care package is money!

  • Grocery store gift cards
  • Coffee shop gift cards
  • Restaurant gift cards
  • Coins or cash for the laundry room
  • Cash for spending on whatever they need

Also not surprising, is the second most popular item: food!

  • Favorite candy and snacks
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Homemade cookies or treats
  • Items from their hometown bakery

Practically Perfect Items

Including some practical necessities in care packages can offer students support during those long hours of writing papers and studying for tests.

  • Pens, pencils, or highlighters
  • Colorful sticky notes
  • Note cards
  • Portable reading light
  • Travel coffee mug
  • Stress ball

Items to Encourage and Inspire

Don’t underestimate the power of an encouraging word or self-care moment to keep students going!

  • Handwritten card or note
  • Mementos or photos from home
  • Printed Scripture Cards
  • Coloring book and crayons or markers
  • Lotion, lip balm, or body scrub

More Resources to Support College Students

When in doubt about what your college or seminary student would be most excited to get in a package, just ask! You’ll never go wrong asking for ideas straight from the source.

If you’re looking for other ideas for how to care for the students in your life, check out our Pinterest board of care package ideas (and other resources) we’ve collected over the years.

The UMHEF United Methodist Dollars for Scholars (UMDFS) award is a unique scholarship program that kicks off with a $1,000 scholarship from an applicant’s United Methodist Church. For some congregations, however, money is not readily available but the desire to support students is. If you are a sponsoring church that is low on funds, check out the following tips for raising these funds.

The UM Dollars for Scholars award is a matching program. UMHEF, participating UM-related schools, and UM Conference Foundations may each match for a total of up to $4,000. Learn more.


  • It takes a village. While we prefer the $1,000 to be sent to UMHEF on one church check, more than one United Methodist congregation may contribute. Consider reaching out to other congregations to pool funds. These may include the church the applicant attends while at school, the student’s parent’s church (if different), etc. If multiple churches will contribute and want to write their own checks, please send all checks together at one time if possible.
  • Many hands make light work. Similarly, ask groups within your church to sponsor part of the $1,000 total. Your youth or college ministry, a large Sunday School class, outreach groups the student may volunteer with, etc.
  • Pass the plate. We have heard of congregations incorporating a special offering specifically for the UMDFS program.
  • Get creative! Want to really drum up excitement for the students in your congregation who you want to support through this program? Host a fundraising event. Ideas include a talent show with “admission,” car wash, gift wrapping station at Christmas time, silent auction, or church yard sale.
  • Get students involved. If you’d like to involve students who plan to apply for the UMDFS program, they may want to reach out to family, neighbors, teachers, and friends and ask them to donate to your church for this designated purpose.

UMHEF is here to help your church be successful in supporting students aiming for higher education. We are happy to provide custom announcement suggestions, worship slides, and/or traditional bulletin inserts for your UMDFS fundraising efforts. Email our Director of Communications/Public Relations, Teresa Tysinger, or call her at 615-649-3975.

The application season for the 2023-2024 academic year will be January 1 – March 1, 2023. Now’s the perfect time to make plans for funds to support the students in your church who plan to apply for the UMDFS program. Talk to the youth and college students in your church now and be ahead of the game! As always, we thank you for the amazing impact you have on countless United Methodist students.