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 for academic achievers. 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 Based Scholarship?

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 665,689 merit scholarships worth $3B.

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 24, 2021

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, 2021

Hurst Review Services/OADN Foundation Student Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. college sophomores who are pursuing an associate’s degree in nursing. Students must be a member of a local, state, or national student nurse association and actively participate in the association, and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale.

Total: $2000

Awards: 2

Deadline: September 30, 2021

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, 2021

South Carolina Palmetto Fellows Scholarship Program

This scholarship is available for South Carolina resident high school seniors who are planning to attend an eligible South Carolina institution. Students must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher and an SAT score of 1200 or higher or an ACT score of 27 or higher, and rank in the top six percent of their class; students may also qualify with a grade point average of 4.0 or higher and an SAT score of 1400 or higher or an ACT score of 32 or higher.

Total: $29200

Awards: 1

Deadline: September 30, 2021

Texas Law Dog Animal Rescue Scholarship

The Texas Law Dog Animal Rescue Scholarship is available for current undergraduate and graduate students who have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and a personal experience with rescued animals.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: September 30, 2021

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, 2021

Life Scholarship

The Legislative Incentive for Future Excellence (LIFE) Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship program administered by the financial aid office at each eligible public and independent college and university in South Carolina. The LIFE Scholarship may be used towards the cost of attendance for up to eight terms based on the student’s initial college enrollment date. Students must be enrolled in their first one-year program, first associate’s degree, first two-year program leading to a baccalaureate degree, first baccalaureate degree, or first professional degree

Total: $4000

Awards: 5

Deadline: September 30, 2021

Richard E. Merwin Scholarship

This award is available for international and U.S. college juniors, seniors and/or graduate students who are majoring in electrical or computer engineering, computer science, or a well-defined computer-related field of engineering. Students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher and be an active member of an IEEE Computer Society Student Branch Chapter.

Total: $2000

Awards: 2

Deadline: September 30, 2021

E7 Solutions $7,000 Scholarship

E7 Solutions Scholarship contest is open to high school with a 3.0 GPA or higher and undergraduate students with a 3.5 GPA or higher. Eligible applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia. Entrant must be sixteen (16) years of age or older at the time of application and currently enrolled (or enroll no later than the fall of 2022 in an accredited post-secondary institution of higher learning (college, university or trade school). Current employees, officers, directors and agents of Sponsor and its related companies and members of their immediate families (defined as spouse, parents, siblings and children) and persons residing at the same address are not eligible to win. Void where prohibited. Essay question: “E7 Solutions strives to enhance the way businesses navigate the ever changing technology landscape. Tell us how technology has helped you achieve your academic goals.”

Total: $7000

Awards: 1

Deadline: September 30, 2021