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.

Seminole Club of Clay County/FSU Leonard Voyles Scholarship

This scholarship is available for residents of Clay County, Florida attending Florida State University, or children of members of the Seminole Club of Clay County, or students attending a high school in Clay County who plan to attend or are currently attending Florida State University. High school seniors must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher; currently enrolled college students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Total: $750

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 03, 2023

Schwartz Injury Law Perseverance Scholarship

Schwartz Injury Law is a personal injury firm located in Orland Park, Illinois serving individuals and families who have been injured in serious and negligent accidents. Students must submit their contact information, proof of enrollment, and a professional headshot. Additionally, an application must include an original essay of 500-1000 words addressing the provided essay prompt.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 13, 2023

The Behan Law Group Military Veteran Scholarship

The Behan Law Group, P.L.L.C. provides strong DUI and criminal defense representation. Our firm brings together knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced attorneys and other legal professionals to successfully serve our clients. Student must submit an essay of 500 to 1000 words on the following prompt: How has your experience as a Veteran or the child of a Veteran influenced your academic and career goals? How do you plan to use your education to make a positive impact in your community?” With the essay, student will also need to submit their most recent academic transcript, proof of military service for themselves or parent, a professional headshot, and contact information (name, address, phone number, email address).

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 13, 2023

Santa Fe College Bruce P. Walek Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. high school seniors who are graduating from a high school in Florida and plan to attend Santa Fe College. Students must plan to become a teacher in Florida, and must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $4800

Awards: 3

Deadline: June 15, 2023

First Responders Children’s Foundation – Vincent Bennett, Jr. Memorial Scholarship

The Vincent Bennett, Jr. Memorial scholarship is awarded annually to an incoming freshman who is the child of a law enforcement officer or firefighter who was killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. This award recognizes financial need, academic achievement, and the candidate must show a strong commitment to service in the community. A declared major is not required, but preference will be given to eligible candidates who are majoring in engineering. For more information or to apply, please visit the scholarship provider’s website.

Total: $20000

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 15, 2023

Santa Fe College Florence Smith Nursing Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. students who are applying to or enrolled in a nursing program at Santa Fe College. Students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $6400

Awards: 4

Deadline: June 15, 2023

Cleburne County Single Parent Scholarship

U.S. undergraduate students who are residents of Cleburne County, Arkansas are eligible for this award. Students must be single parents with one or more children who are under the age of 18, be the head of household, and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $500

Awards: 10

Deadline: June 15, 2023

Santa Fe College Bryan and Angela Nazworth Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. high school seniors who are graduating from a high school in Alachua or Bradford counties in Florida and plan to attend Santa Fe College. Students must enroll in the building construction program and have a grade point average of 2.0 or higher.

Total: $1600

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 15, 2023

First Responders Children’s Foundation General Scholarship

The First Responders Children’s Foundation awards scholarships to children of first responders annually. Awards are based on financial need as well as academic merit and other achievements, such as demonstrated leadership, outstanding performance in the arts or sports, and/or volunteer activities benefiting the community. This scholarship may be renewed annually (for up to a maximum of four years) depending on the availability of funds and the financial need and the academic record of the awardee.

Total: $6500

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 15, 2023

Faulkner County Single Parent Scholarship

High school graduates who are Faulkner County, AR residents living at or near the poverty level and are single parents with sole custody of one or more children under 18 are eligible for this award. Students must be the head of the household and be pursuing a career-oriented course of study in order to ensure a better standard of living with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $563

Awards: 36

Deadline: June 15, 2023