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Undergraduate Scholarship

The Fred S. Bailey Scholarship awards nearly $200,000 each year in undergraduate and graduate financial aid to University of Illinois students who demonstrate a deep commitment to service and action.

Award Description

Undergraduate Awards

The Bailey Undergraduate awards are $4,000 awards ($2,000/semester) given each year to undergraduate students at the University of Illinois who have demonstrated positive impact and commitment as a result of service, community involvement, leadership, and action.

Leadership Awards

The Bailey Leadership Awards are $6,000 awards ($3,000/semester) given each year to four exceptional upcoming seniors who have made a demonstrated impact on the University of Illinois campus during their initial three years on campus in one or more of the following areas: Social Justice, Environment, Interfaith Cooperation, and Global Engagement. Students who have previously received a Bailey Scholarship and will graduate during the upcoming year may still apply, but a Bailey Leadership award and Bailey Scholarship cannot both be received in the same academic year.

Eligibility/Qualifications

All undergraduate students who will be enrolled at UIUC throughout the upcoming term are eligible to apply for an award of $4,000. Students who have previously received an award may reapply for the scholarship each year but must demonstrate a continued commitment to service and/or activism, academic achievement, and personal development. All undergraduate students who will graduate during the upcoming academic year are automatically considered for the Leadership Award.  You do not need to fill out a separate application.

Decision Criteria

  • Qualified applicants will demonstrate positive impact as a result of service, community involvement, leadership, and action;
  • Qualified applicants will demonstrate awareness and critical thought about the pressing issues facing the world today;
  • Financial need and academic achievement will also be considered.

Application Timeline

November 7 - Applications for Fall 2024/Spring 2025 open online

February 28 - Application submission deadline

March 5 - Reference letter submission deadline

Early May - Applicants notified of decisions

Application Requirements

The Bailey Scholarship for Cause-Driven Leaders Scholarship application consists of six sections: Community Involvement, Financial Information, Letter(s) of Recommendation, Academic Information, Demographic Information, and Additional Information.

In addition to providing information about your academic and community activities, you must provide the following supporting documents.

  • Community Involvement Resume - You will be asked to upload a current resume. Your resume should include volunteer and involvement activities for both campus and the general community. Examples of this type of resume,  can be found below in the Resources for Applicants section.
  • Letter(s) of Recommendation - You must submit at least one letter of recommendation to be considered for a Bailey Scholarship.  In addition, applicants have the option to submit a second recommendation letters.  Applicants who will graduate during the 2024-23 term and would like to be considered for the Bailey Leadership Award are especially encouraged to submit two letters of recommendation.  All letters of recommendation must be submitted by March 5, 2024.
  • University of Illinois Financial Aid Award Letter: Upload your University of Illinois Financial Aid award letter (if available) for the scholarship term (2024-2025). If you have not received your award letter for the upcoming term, you may upload last year's letter or contact bailey@universityymca.org for an alternative.
  • Academic Transcript or Academic History
  • If you are a current U of I student, please submit your academic history report. You can obtain your academic history report by logging into the Enterprise Student Self Service. Please save your academic history as a PDF and then upload to the application.
  • INCOMING HIGH SCHOOL/TRANSFER STUDENTS: - If you are a graduating high school senior or a transfer student, contact your school's guidance or advising office for assistance obtaining your official transcript. You may choose to upload your transcript below OR you may mail it to the Y. If you choose to mail your transcript, please send it to University YMCA, ATTN: Bailey Scholarship, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, IL 61820. You may also email a copy to bailey@universityymca.org. Your application will not be processed until your transcript is received.

Program Requirements

All first-time undergraduate scholars must participate in a minimum of 2 leadership workshops or retreats and 2 enrichment events during each semester.  These activities may be from a pre-approved list or may be arranged with approval of the Bailey Scholarship Director. Virtual participation in leadership and enrichment activities is allowed.

For a sample list of pre-approved leadership and enrichment activities click here >>>

All returning scholarship recipients and leadership award recipients are required to plan and present a skill-based workshop on a topic of their choosing.   To prepare you, you are required to  attend two training workshops during the fall semester on “Developing Workshop Curriculum” and “Communications and Workshop Planning.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I submit an application?

Online applications for undergraduate scholarship and leadership awards will be available beginning November 7. The deadline to submit an application for the scholarship and leadership awards is February 28.

When will I be notified if I have been selected?

Applicants will be notified in May as to whether or not they have been selected to receive a Bailey Scholarship.

Do I have to submit an official transcript?

How do I get a copy of my transcript? If you are a current U of I student, you are only required to submit your academic history report. You can obtain the academic history report by logging into Enterprise Student Self Service and saving your academic history as a PDF then uploading it to your application.

If your high school does not offer an electronic transcript option, use a scanner to create a pdf of your transcript or contact Jen Romine, Bailey Scholarship Administrator, at (217) 337-1500 for more options.

DON'T wait until the last minute. It can take your guidance office approximately 5 days to process your request. The YMCA will give a 5-day grace period after the deadline to receive transcripts but you don't want all of your hard work to be wasted because you did not order a transcript!

Am I eligible for a Bailey award if I plan to graduate this fall?

Yes, you may apply for a Bailey Scholarship even if you will not be enrolled in the spring. However, the Bailey Scholarship award is divided amongst two semesters so you would only receive ½ of the total award possible (i.e. $2,000 for one semester if you are chosen for a scholarship or $3,000 if you are chosen for the Bailey Leadership award.

Is there an income requirement?

There is no income requirement to be eligible as a Bailey scholar. However, financial need is considered in evaluating applications.

How many letters of recommendation do I need?

Every application must include at least one letter of recommendation with the option of including a second letter. In considering whether to submit a second letter of recommendation, consider the following:

  • How familiar are your references with your leadership, service, and activism? It is better to have one strong recommendation that speaks directly to the Bailey decision criteria than two letters that do not.
  • Are you involved in multiple organizations or initiatives? Would having more than one letter of recommendation create a fuller picture of your involvement?

Upperclassmen, especially applicants who will be considered for the Bailey Leadership Award, are strongly encouraged to submit two letters of recommendation.

What is the deadline to submit letters of recommendation?

All letters of recommendation must be submitted no later than March 5, but you must identify and provide contact information for your references when you submit your application. Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all letters of recommendation are submitted by the March 5 deadline. We highly recommend that you contact your references personally before submitting their email to the application to ensure they look for the email generated by the application system and are aware of the deadline.

Who should I ask to be a reference?

A good reference should be familiar with your involvement and impact in your community. References can be an advisor, an instructor, a fellow organization member, a volunteer supervisor, a community leader, or anyone else who can speak to your character, passions, leadership, and how you are making a difference.

How can I apply for the Leadership award?

All undergraduate students who will graduate during the upcoming academic year are automatically considered for the leadership award. You do not need to fill out a separate application.

I received a Bailey scholarship previously. Can I still apply?

Students who received a Bailey Scholarship may reapply for the scholarship. If you plan to graduate during the upcoming year, you will also be eligible for a Bailey Leadership Award. For more information, contact Jen Romine, Bailey Scholarship Administrator, at baileyscholar@universityymca.org or call (217) 337-1500.

Will this scholarship affect my financial aid package?

All Bailey Scholarships are reported to the University of Illinois Office of Student Financial Aid office and are considered part of your total financial aid. Every individual student's financial aid package is unique, and therefore this award may have no effect on one student's financial aid package while it could replace a grant, loan, or other award in another student's financial aid package. The Fred S. Bailey Scholarship program does not have access to individual student's award information. To learn more about how the Bailey Scholarship could impact your financial aid, we encourage you to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at finaid@illinois.edu or (217) 333-0100.

Who evaluates my application?

Bailey Readers are the volunteers responsible for selecting Bailey Scholars. They are University YMCA board members, Y alumni, community leaders and activists, and University of Illinois faculty and staff. To learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Bailey program, email bailey@universityymca.org or call (217) 337-1500.