College is expensive and getting a scholarship of any amount can really help pay the bills, especially when awarded for excellence. Merit scholarships offer stellar students a chance to reduce their tuition costs based on their academic achievements.
What Is a Merit-Based Scholarship?
Colleges offer merit scholarships to high school students who received good grades and maintained a good GPA, received a high score on the ACT or SAT, or achieved excellence in art. The last option is for those looking to go to art school or for those going to play a sport at a college that cannot offer an athletic scholarship.
However, it is important to note that Ivy League colleges, or other select schools such as MIT or Stanford, do not award merit-based scholarships.
Types of Merit Scholarships
There are a few different types of merit scholarships. The first one is an academic merit scholarship.
An academic merit scholarship is awarded by college admission offices that look at high school students’ grade point average and standardized test scores, such as the ACT and SAT. This merit aid is not awarded based on financial aid, just solely on academics.
Every college and university, whether it be a private or state university, offers some form of merit scholarships based on grade point averages.
This scholarship is given based on your ACT score. The better score you have, the better chances you have of receiving a great scholarship package.
Grade Point Average Scholarship
To apply for this scholarship, you must have a certain GPA to qualify. Don’t worry, you do not need to be a straight-A student to have a chance. Just make sure you have a great grade point average that meets the qualifications of the scholarship.
If you had any leadership position in high school among the student body, whether that be president of the student council or team captain on your athletic team, you may qualify for this award. For this award, they look for students who have great leadership skills and are able to excel.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation
The national merit scholarship program is a competition among high school students to see who can get a scholarship. The process for this goes as follows:
Step 1: Take the PSAT/NMSQT
After taking the PSAT/NMSQT, the tests are sent to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, which will score the tests and send them back to the school. A student will be notified if they qualify to enter the national merit scholarship competition.
If you are just below the line to be recognized, the board will send you a letter to commend you for your academic achievement. You then are able to qualify for certain special scholarships that are not part of the competition.
Step 2: Semi-Finals
After students are picked to qualify for the national merit scholarship, they go on to the semi-finals. There are only 16,000 students who are picked for this stage. To qualify for the finals, you must keep your grades up and be endorsed and recommended for the national merit scholarship by your high school principal.
Step 3: Finals and Winner Selection
About 15,000 students go on to the finals. From here, students must write an essay, have their high school send a letter of recommendation, have a great grade point average, and make sure they have good leadership abilities.
After the National Merit Scholarship Corporation looks at these student qualifications, they will give 7,500 incoming college students scholarships.
Types of Scholarships awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation
After the winners are selected, the NMSC awards these scholarships to students.
- National Merit Scholarship – $2,500
- This scholarship is chosen by high school counselors and a college admissions officer who looks at the students’ academic achievements rather than their financial situation.
- Corporate-Sponsored Merit Scholarship
- This scholarship is either renewed for four years or is just given at one time. This scholarship is awarded by a company on the basis of the student having a parent who works for the company, or the company is headquartered in the city in which the student lives, or because the finalist has career plans the company wishes to sponsor.
- College-Sponsored Merit Scholarship
- This scholarship is awarded by the college that the finalist has chosen to go to and the school has communicated with the NMSC to let them know. This scholarship is able to be renewed during each year of their undergraduate studies.
Other Merit Scholarships You Can Apply For
If you are not getting a scholarship through your university, you are able to apply for other scholarships. Below are some other merit scholarships you can apply for.
Coca-Cola Scholarship Program
The Coca-Cola Scholarship Program is a scholarship high school students are awarded based on their ability to lead. Every year, 150 students are chosen to be awarded $20,000. Students must apply to be considered for this scholarship.
This scholarship is not necessarily for a straight-A student. This $2,000 scholarship is chosen for one male and one female student who has a 3.0 GPA and achieved academic excellence within their school, is possibly a great athlete, and has shown ambition and is active within their community.
Equitable Excellence Scholarship
This scholarship is for students who are ethnically diverse and come from different economic backgrounds. They must have ambition and be determined to reach their goals at the college or university they choose. There are three different awards a student can receive. These awards range from $2,000, $10,000, to $20,000.
Women’s Techmakers Scholarship
This scholarship is designed for women who are looking to pursue a career in the tech industry. To receive this scholarship, they are chosen among many applicants who have shown ambition in their academic achievements, leadership abilities, and involvement within women’s tech communities.
Do You Qualify for a Merit-Based Scholarship?
There are many merit-based scholarships to apply for. As you know, going to college is expensive and you should continue to apply for any available scholarship, whether it is a merit-based one or not.
Scholarships are a great way to keep your college costs down as much as possible. Make sure you continue to keep your grades up while you are in school to get the best scholarships available.
Merit Scholarship FAQ
What is a merit scholarship?
A merit scholarship is an award based on academic achievement in school.
How can I get a merit scholarship?
If you have done well in high school, your college may offer you a merit scholarship for achieving a certain GPA.
Can I apply to a merit scholarship?
Yes. There are many merit scholarships you can apply for if you weren’t rewarded for one by a college.
How much is a merit scholarship worth?
It varies on what the school offers you.