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.

Byron Bird Graduate Scholarship

This scholarship is open to current and incoming graduate students at Kansas colleges/universities who have a concentration in accounting. The scholarship is awarded on the basis of undergraduate academic performance; potential for success in graduate studies; leadership; and participation in community, charitable, university, governmental and/or other civic activities.

Total: $3000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 05, 2023

John J. Killian Scholarship

This scholarship is open to college juniors who attend a Kansas independent college or university and are majoring in accounting. Qualified students must demonstrate academic success in their accounting curriculum; the student’s grades in English, rhetoric subjects, business, and economics courses will also be considered.

Total: $2500

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 05, 2023

Mary Ellen Kirkpatrick Leadership Scholarship

This scholarship is open to college juniors who are enrolled as accounting majors in a Kansas college or university. Qualified nominees must demonstrate academic success in the accounting, economics, and business curriculums. Additional emphasis is placed upon the nominee’s overall grades.

Total: $2500

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 05, 2023

Harriet Evelyn Wallace Scholarship

The Harriet Evelyn Wallace Scholarship is available to all women pursuing a Master’s or Doctoral degree in the geosciences at an accredited U.S. institution of higher education in a recognized geoscience program. Successful applicants will be thesis-based, full time students and due to the nature of the position, each applicant must either be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If selected, the new Harriet Evelyn Wallace Scholar will be subject to verification of U.S. citizenship or residency status. Applicants must also be a member of at least one of AGI’s Member Societies.

Total: $5000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 06, 2023

Fordham University Dean’s Scholarship for International Students

This award is available for high school seniors who have shown a strong overall high schoool performance and academic potential and plan to attend Fordham University in New York. All freshmen are considered when their admission application is reviewed.

Total: $30000

Awards: 2

Deadline: February 07, 2023

Fordham University’s Dean Scholarship

This award is available for high school seniors who have shown a strong overall high schoool performance and academic potential and plan to attend Fordham University in New York. All freshmen are considered when their admission application is reviewed.

Total: $15000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 07, 2023

Beinecke Scholarship Program

This award is available for U.S. college juniors who are planning to pursue a master’s or doctoral degree in the arts, humanities or the social sciences and must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. Students must currently attend and be nominated by one of the participating colleges or universities.

Total: $34000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 09, 2023

Samuel Fletcher Tapman Memorial ASCE Student Chapter Scholarship

Current undergraduate students who are majoring in civil engineering and are members of their local American Society of Civil Engineers Student Chapter/Club are eligible for this award. Academic merit and financial need will be considered in award selection.

Total: $36000

Awards: 12

Deadline: February 10, 2023

AOPA Student Pilot Scholarship

The AOPA Student Pilot Scholarship is open to U.S. students who are pursuing a private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate and already have a student pilot certificate. Students must be members of Women in Aviation, International (WAI); both men and women are eligible to join WAI. Click here to learn more and to apply today!

Total: $3000

Awards: 1

Deadline: February 10, 2023

William A. Lee Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. high school seniors who are a member or the child of a member of an affiliated local union of the Chicago Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Students must plan to graduate from a Chicago-area high school in the year of competition.

Total: $20000

Awards: 10

Deadline: February 10, 2023