Merit Scholarships

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What is a Merit Scholarship?

Merit scholarships are a type of gift aid that help pay for college by rewarding talent. Most merit based scholarships go to students who stand out with strong academics.

Recipients of a merit scholarship may be high academic achievers or have strong athletic, artistic or other skills and values. Eligible students must also show a desire to serve the community or leadership skills.

Some merit scholarships also may look at financial need. But most of the time accomplishments and academic excellence are the primary factors to win a merit scholarship.

How Do You Get a Merit Scholarship?

Merit awards are different from needs based scholarships. A need-based scholarship uses family income to make decisions. Instead, the merit scholarship sponsors usually start out with a goal or reason why they offer it. This might be to develop their industry with smart minds or invest in the future of their community and college.

There are various criteria to qualify for a merit scholarship. Sometimes you need to be a member of a specific association or enrolled in the university. Other scholarship providers may specifically offer it to minority students, female students or for certain majors like STEM.

Either way, you’ll need to see if you qualify. One example is the Women Techmakers Scholarship. It is an academic merit scholarship. In order to be eligible, eligible students must show strong academic performance, leadership, and impact on the community of women in tech. You may fit the bill as an upstanding male student, but this one is for girls.

What is Merit?

That stated, what ‘merit’ means generally depends on the organization granting the scholarship. Some merit scholarships look at academic performance, test scores, and your recommendations. Others may only look at your SAT/ACT test scores.

Still others focus on your dedication to and performance in a specific field of study. This can be anything from music to math and others.

Many private companies, groups and nonprofits fund merit scholarships. There are no federal funds for merit-based scholarships.

Some merit scholarship providers are from local communities such as churches and cultural groups. Companies such as Google, Gates Foundation or Coca Cola also offer merit scholarships.

Most colleges also award merit scholarships. Often alumni endow funds to use for these awards. Merit based awards may thus carry the name of a person so that their legacy continues. You’ll also find charitable foundations offering merit aid which sometimes look at financial need.

What GPA do You Need to Get a Merit Scholarship?

An academic merit scholarship often requires a strong GPA. But the actual grade point average you need to get a merit scholarship varies.

For instance, you need a cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale to qualify for the SHRM Foundation’s Graduate Scholarships. This awards $5,000 to a graduate student pursuing an HR degree related program.

The Voice of Democracy Scholarship awards $30,000 to one national first place winner. Most high school students as well as military students may apply.

How Much is a Merit Scholarship?

The U.S. Department of Education tracks the aid schools award to undergraduates. According to the NCES study, they looked at the amount of money high-merit students received. It found that those in selective schools got about 58% of their tuition. Those in less selective schools received about 46% of their tuition amounts.

What Qualifies You to be a National Merit Scholar?

National Merit Scholars have the highest PSAT/NMSQT® Selection Index scores. About 1.6 million enter to compete. But about 50,000 qualify for recognition in the National Merit® Scholarship Program.

Each September, the sponsor colleges notify the recipients. They let them know if they have qualified as either a Commended Student or Semifinalist. Then about 15,000 semifinalists move to finalist standing.

About 7,600 winners of Merit Scholarship® awards (Merit Scholar® designees) may be notified. Part of the decision making process looks at students’ abilities, skills, and accomplishments.

How Do You Get the Most Money for Merit Scholarships?

Many scholarship providers factor in both need and merit. There are at least six things that may help you get the most merit aid for college.

  1. Don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for federal aid too. This might be useful if the amount of your merit scholarship is not enough to pay tuition, fees, housing etc.
  2. Apply to schools where your grades put you ahead. Many college admissions look at the entire pool of applicants. You may be ahead of the student body in some colleges and not in others.
  3. Check whether the merit scholarship is renewable. If so, abiding by the terms may help pay your entire four years at college.
  4. Make sure you understand the net cost of attending each school you apply to. Then assess the amount of merit aid you can get and see what makes the most sense to you.
  5. Figure out where your talents lie and use them when you search for scholarships. It doesn’t have to be high marks. The Doodle for Google Scholarship rewards creativity.
  6. When applying to a college or university, look at their financial aid section and scan for merit scholarships to see if you qualify.

List of Merit Scholarships

Check out our list of merit scholarships below.

Pizza Hut Foundation Scholarship

The Pizza Hut scholarship is offered through its parent company Yum! Brands, also known as Yum!. The Yum! Andy Pearson Scholarship Program is administered by Scholarship America and is available to U.S.-based employees of Yum! or its other brands such as Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell. Legal dependents of these employees are also eligible.

Total: $5000

Awards: 3

Deadline: August 13, 2022

Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize

The Alice T. Schafer Mathematics Prize will be awarded to an undergraduate woman for excellence in mathematics. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or have a school address in the United States.

Total: $625

Awards: 3

Deadline: August 15, 2022

AKA Educational Advancement Foundation Graduate Merit Scholarship

U.S. graduate students who demonstrate community involvement will be considered for this award. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: August 15, 2022

Clubs of America Scholarship Award for Career Success

This award is available for U.S. and international undergraduate students who feel passionately about the career and educational path they are pursuing. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and submit an essay about his/her chosen profession.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: August 31, 2022

Right to Privacy Scholarship

The Right to Privacy Scholarship is available for incoming and current undergraduate and graduate students who have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: August 31, 2022

Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program – Florida Medallion Scholars Award (FMS)

This award is available to Florida high school seniors who plan to attend a college or university in Florida. Students must have a weighted grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and have a SAT score of 1170 or higher or an ACT score of 26 or higher (or meet other academic requirements). Students must have also completed at least 75 hours of community service.

Total: $1740

Awards: 1

Deadline: August 31, 2022

Tennessee HOPE Foster Child Tuition Grant

This award is available to Tennessee residents who are planning to attend an eligible postsecondary institution in Tennessee. Students must be a foster child and meet the high school requirements for the Tennessee HOPE scholarship or the Tennessee HOPE Access grant.

Total: $2763

Awards: 31

Deadline: September 01, 2022

Tennessee HOPE Access Grant

This award is available to Tennessee high school seniors who are planning to attend an eligible postsecondary institution in Tennessee. The student must have a grade point average of 2.75 or higher and a SAT score or 860-970 or an ACT score of 18-20. The student’s parents’ (or independent student’s and spouse’s) adjusted gross income must be $36,000 or less.

Total: $2431

Awards: 735

Deadline: September 01, 2022

Generation Google Scholarship

The Generation Google Scholarship was established to help aspiring students pursuing computer science degrees excel in technology and become leaders in the field. Selected students will receive $10,000 USD (for those studying in the US) or $5,000 CAD (for those studying in Canada) for the 2021-2022 school year. The Generation Google Scholarship will be awarded based on the strength of each candidate’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, demonstrated leadership, and academic performance. The program is open to students who meet all the minimum qualifications and we strongly encourage students that identify with groups historically excluded from the technology industry, including Women, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, American Indian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, to apply. Applicants are not required to currently be enrolled in an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or PhD program for the 2020-2021 academic year to apply

Total: $10000

Awards: 1

Deadline: September 01, 2022

American Board of Funeral Service Education National Scholarship

College students who have completed one or more terms of study in funeral service or mortuary science education are eligible for this award. Students must be U.S. citizens.

Total: $5000

Awards: 2

Deadline: September 01, 2022