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.

Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship – High School Seniors

This award is available for Arkansas high school seniors who are planning to attend a two-year or four-year postsecondary institution in Arkansas. Students must successfully complete the Smart Core curriculum established by the Arkansas Department of Education and have an ACT (or ACT equivalent) score of 19 or higher.

Total: $5000

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Maryland Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant

The Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant (WSSAG) program is for students who plan on working in specific career/occupational programs upon graduation. Eligible fields include: child care, human services, teaching, nursing, physical and occupational therapy, social work, and public service.

Total: $3001

Awards: 379

Deadline: July 01, 2022

UPE/ACM Scholarship Award

The Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE) chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery is offering two scholarships for a UPE member that is majoring in information technology. Applicants must be undergraduate or graduate students.

Total: $4000

Awards: 4

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Louisiana Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Performance Award

This award is available to Louisiana high school students who are planning to attend a postsecondary institution in Louisiana. Students must have completed a required high school core curriculum with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and have an ACT score of 23 or higher (or the SAT equivalent).

Total: $400

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Louisiana Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Opportunity Award

This award is available to Louisiana students who are planning to attend an approved postsecondary institution in Louisiana. Students must have completed a required high school core curriculum with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 and have an ACT score of 20 or higher (or the SAT equivalent); students must file the FAFSA to qualify.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Louisiana Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) Tech Award

This award is for Louisiana high school students who are planning to enroll in skill or occupational training at an approved two-year postsecondary institution in Louisiana. Students must have completed a required high school core curriculum with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, and have an ACT score of 17 or higher (or the equivalent SAT score).

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Western New England College Merit Transfer Scholarship

U.S. students who have completed 12 or more college credit hours and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher are eligible for this award. Students must plan to transfer to Western New England College in Massachusetts.

Total: $42000

Awards: 20

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Savor Summer College Scholarship

This essay scholarship is open to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Total: $500

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Rockefeller State Wildlife Scholarship

This scholarship is available for Louisiana students who are pursuing a major in forestry, wildlife, or marine science at a Louisiana public college or university. Students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher (or 3.0 or higher if a graduate student).

Total: $12000

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2022

Craighead County Single Parent Scholarship

Current undergraduate students who have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher and are residents of Craighead County, Arkansas are eligible for this award. Students must be single and have custody over one or more children under the age of 18, be the head of household and live at or near poverty level.

Total: $375

Awards: 30

Deadline: July 01, 2022