Merit Scholarships

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What is a Merit based 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 Based Scholarships

Check out our list of 818,485 merit scholarships worth $4B.

Banatao Filipino American Education Fund Scholarship

This award is available for Filipino high school seniors who are a resident of California. Applicants must major in math, engineering, computer science, or the physical or biological sciences (excluding healthcare). Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Click here to learn more and apply today!

Total: $25000

Awards: 5

Deadline: February 26, 2021

Lagrant Foundation Graduate Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. graduate students with a grade point average of 3.2 or higher who are of either African American, Asian/Pacific, Hispanic, or Native American heritage. The applicant must major in a field of study that has an emphasis on public relations, marketing or advertising.

Total: $75000

Awards: 30

Deadline: February 26, 2021

B. Bradford Barnes Memorial Scholarship

This award is available to Delaware high school seniors who are planning to enroll full time at the University of Delaware. The student must have a combined SAT score of 1800 or higher and rank in the top 25 percent of his/her high school class.

Total: $52352

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 26, 2021

Charles L. Hebner Memorial Scholarship

This award is available for current high school seniors who are U.S. citizens and residents of Delaware. Applicant must plan to enroll full time at the University of Delaware or Delaware State University and plan to major in the humanities or social sciences.

Total: $71412

Awards: 2

Deadline: February 26, 2021

Lagrant Foundation Undergraduate Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. undergraduates with a GPA of 2.75 or higher who are of either African, Asian/Pacific, Hispanic, or Native American heritage. Majors in public relations, marketing, advertising; or minors in communications with desire to pursue careers in public relations, marketing or advertising are eligible to apply.

Total: $2000

Awards: 60

Deadline: February 26, 2021

Delaware Diamond State Scholarship

This award is available for Delaware high school seniors who are planning to enroll full time at a non-profit, regionally accredited institution. Students must rank in the top quarter of their class and have a combined SAT score of 1290 or higher to be eligible.

Total: $5000

Awards: 4

Deadline: February 26, 2021

Texas Floral Endowment Memorial Scholarship

This award will be given to applicants who wish to pursue floral training at any accredited floral design school, state association or credentialed class, community college, junior college, university level, or attendance at a regional or state floral industry convention. The applicant must be a resident of Texas.

Total: $500

Awards: 5

Deadline: February 27, 2021

Glenn and Mary Wendler Scholarship

High school seniors graduating from Clear Creek-Amana, Linn County, or Iowa County high schools in Iowa are eligible for this award. Students must be planning to pursue a career in engineering, architecture or construction, and must plan to attend an Iowa college.

Total: $1500

Awards: 3

Deadline: February 28, 2021

Western Reserve Herb Society Scholarship

This award is available for Ohio college sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are majoring in horticulture or a related field. Preference will be given to applicants whose career goals involve teaching/research or work in the public or nonprofit sector, such as public gardens, botanical gardens, parks, arboreta, city planning, or public education and awareness.

Total: $10500

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 28, 2021

Kalous Opportunity Scholarship

This scholarship is available for high school seniors in Lynn County, Iowa who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need. Preference is given to students majoring in government, political science, engineering, or music, and students who are attending a college or university in Iowa.

Total: $3000

Awards: 3

Deadline: February 28, 2021

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