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 scholarship.

How Do You Get a Merit Scholarship?

Merit awards are different from needs based ones. To get a merit scholarship you need to have a good GPA, SAT/ACT test scores, and strong academics. On the contrary, a need-based scholarship uses family income to make decisions. Instead, the 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 Scholars Program. 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.

Who Awards Merit Scholarships?

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

Some 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 based Scholarship?

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

The U.S. Department of Education tracks the aid schools award to undergraduates. In one 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.

But as you might expect, merit scholarships come from a wide range of grantors. As such, the size and scope of a scholarship varies. Some are for smaller amounts while others may be full-ride scholarships.

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 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 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 scholarships to see if you qualify.

List of Merit Scholarships

Check out our list of 1,101,689 merit scholarships worth $5B.

Acorn Equality Fund Luke Scholarship

The Luke Scholarship is available to LGBT students, allies, and the children of LGBT parents who have a permanent residence in the Acorn Equality Fund service area (all counties in Illinois except Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will). Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement and unmet financial need.

Total: $35000

Awards: 5

Deadline: September 18, 2020

Acorn Equality Fund Acorn Scholarship

The Acorn Scholarship is available to LGBT students, allies, and the children of LGBT parents who have a permanent residence in the Acorn Equality Fund service area (all counties in Illinois except Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will). Applicants must demonstrate service to and advocacy for the LGBT community.

Total: $35000

Awards: 4

Deadline: September 20, 2020

Acorn Equality Fund McKeon Scholarship

The McKeon Scholarship is available to LGBT students, allies, and the children of LGBT parents who have a permanent residence in the Acorn Equality Fund service area (all counties in Illinois except Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will). Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement, as well as political involvement and advocacy for LGBT issues.

Total: $3333

Awards: 4

Deadline: September 20, 2020

ENRE Student Fellowship Program

This fellowship is open to international and U.S. second-year graduate students who are enrolled in a PAB-accredited master’s-level planning program focusing on issues related to the environment, natural resources or energy. Students must have a grade point average of B (3.0) or higher.

Total: $2500

Awards: 1

Deadline: September 27, 2020

QuestBridge College Match Program

The QuestBridge College Match was created to fund complete scholarships to lower-income students so they can attend a variety of top schools. The students must show a high level of academic merit to be eligible.

Total: $47000

Awards: 204

Deadline: September 29, 2020

Lycoming County Medical Society Scholarship Fund

This award is for graduate students who are enrolled full time in an allopathic or osteopathic medical school within the United States, and are residents of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.

Total: $3000

Awards: 2

Deadline: September 30, 2020

NYLA Dewey Scholarship Award

This scholarship is available for U.S. students pursuing a master’s degree in library science at one of the ALA-accredited schools located in New York state. Students must have a grade point average of ‘B’ (3.0) or higher. Both the student and the library school must be members of the New York Library Association.

Total: $1000

Awards: 7

Deadline: September 30, 2020

Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship Program

U.S. minority students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, who are enrolled full time in an undergraduate or graduate technical science or engineering discipline are eligible for this award. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The scholarship is not available to spouses and children of Xerox employees.

Total: $5500

Awards: 130

Deadline: September 30, 2020

Myrtle Siegfried, MD, and Michael Vigilante, MD, Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. graduate students who are in their first year of medical school. Students must be a resident of Lehigh, Berks, or Northampton counties in Pennsylvania.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: September 30, 2020

Educational Administration Scholarship Award

This award is for U.S. graduate students who are pursuing careers in public school superintendency. The applicant must have experience working in a school system or college department.

Total: $2500

Awards: 7

Deadline: September 30, 2020

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