What is it?


In 2015, a student I'd never met before wrote me an email that read:

"I come from a single parent household, my father does not support us in any way at all and my mother has just recently been let go of due to financial struggles, but I would like to ask for your help. Please light a little match to guide me through this." 

And, just like that, the Matchlighters Scholarship was born. 


The Matchlighters Scholarship is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis to 50 high-achieving, low-income students who, like the student above, haVE solid grades and test scores, but just need a little EXTRA help. 

That's right, it's free. But scholarships are given on a first-come first-serve basis and right now there are 38 slots available. Those interested simply have to complete and submit the application below.

Why did I start this program? Because I believe in equal opportunity and access. 

Who conducts the four hours of one-on-one essay help and two hours of college list development? A small group of like-minded essay coaches that I've personally trained.

Ready to apply? Keep reading.

Matchlighters Program: 
How to Apply


here's the short version
(see details below):

  1. Fill out this short personal information form.
  2. Watch the first three sessions in the “How to Write a Personal Statement” Course (free with application) and write a rough draft of your personal statement.
  3. Complete your Activities List and Additional Info sections (explained below).
  4. Provide proof of financial need: the guidelines for what qualifies are below.
  5. Download a copy of your transcripts from your school website.
  6. Submit!


Fill out this personal information questionnaire

Click here! It will take approximately two minutes!


Complete the “How to Write a Personal Statement” Course (LIVE or ON DEMAND)

Second, watch the first three sessions of the “How to Write a Personal Statement” Course. This will give us a strong first draft to review during our first session. For free access to the course, just email assistant@collegeessayguy.com and let us know you're interested in applying to the Matchlighters Program.


Complete two exercises

  1. A draft of your Common App Activities List, created using this exercise.
    (Here's an example.)
  2. A draft of your Additional Info section, created using the guide found here.
    (Here’s an example.) 



United States applicants: In order for us to make sure that we’re sharing our time with students who need it the most, please scan or take a photo of any documents that prove ONE of the following below criteria:

  • Enrollment in or eligibility to participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
  • Annual family income within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
  • Enrollment in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g. Federal TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).
  • Family receives public assistance.
  • Lives in federally subsidized public housing, or a foster home, or are homeless.
  • A ward of the state or an orphan.
  • Other documents: if you have another forms of proof that you would like to submit, simply include it in your completed application.

International applicants: You will be required to show proof of financial need by sending ONE of the following:

  • A scanned copy of their family's most recent national tax form. 
  • An English-language statement from the parents' employers providing the parents' annual salary.
  • An account detailing any financial hardships that might affect the family's ability to pay for college help.
  • Other documents: if you have another forms of proof that you would like to submit, simply include it in your completed application.

All applicants: Please make sure that the document is legible. It is your responsibility to make sure to cover or erase any social security numbers or other sensitive information that may be on these documents.


Download a copy of your transcripts from your school website

Why do we ask for your transcript? We do this so that the counselor helping you develop your colleges list will better understand your academic history.

It is your responsibility to make sure to cover or erase any social security numbers or other private information that may be on your transcripts.



Once you have completed steps 1 through 5, you're ready to submit. To do so, send us an email with the following:

  1. The subject of the email should be: Matchlighters Application, [Your Name]
  2. Copy and paste your essay draft (part 2) and your two exercises (part 3) into the body of the email.
  3. Attach your proof of financial need (part 4) and your transcripts (part 5).
  4. Email all documents to the email address provided at the end of the “How to Write a Personal Statement” Course. (Remember: you do NOT have to pay full price for these; if you cannot afford these resources, simply email assistant@collegessayguy.com for access.).

Looking forward to your application! Please note: the Matchlighters Program is limited to 50 students each calendar year and is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Privacy policy: Matchlighters Scholarship administrators do not share personal information about applicants or counselors with any other organizations or individuals without permission. We do not use applicant personal information to communicate with applicants about other services or products. We do not college, process, or share information about site visitors to the Matchlighters application page.



ARE YOU interested in volunteering to help HIGH-ACHIEVING, LOW-INCOME students write great college essays?

Click the button to complete our volunteer form!