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 merit scholarships worth .

Traveler’s Foundation Scholarship – Non-Tribal College Students

This scholarship is open to U.S. college sophomores, juniors, and seniors of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent who attend school or reside in CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, MN, or TX. Students must be majoring in business, accounting, computer science, computer technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or a related field; have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; and have demonstrated financial need.

Total: $4000

Awards: 1

Deadline: May 31, 2021

Colorado Women’s Education Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is intended for U.S. female students who are 25 years of age and older and enrolled in an accredited Colorado college or university. The applicant must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher to be eligible for this award.

Total: $20000

Awards: 20

Deadline: May 31, 2021

AICPA Fellowship for Minority Doctoral Students

U.S. minority students who are enrolled or plan to enroll in a doctoral accounting program are eligible for this award. Students must enroll full time and be or plan to become a CPA.

Total: $12000

Awards: 1

Deadline: May 31, 2021

AFCEA STEM Majors Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. college sophomores and juniors and graduate students who are majoring in a STEM field relevant to the mission of AFCEA (includes cyber security, intelligence, and homeland security). Undergraduate students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher; graduate students must have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Total: $5000

Awards: 2

Deadline: May 31, 2021

Stephen D. Pisinski Memorial Scholarship

This award is available for U.S. college juniors and seniors who are members of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Applicants must be have a grade point average of 3.3 or higher and major in journalism, communications, or public relations.

Total: $1500

Awards: 1

Deadline: May 31, 2021

Baptist Life Scholarship

This award is for full-time U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who are insured (either a base policy or a rider) on a Baptist Life Association permanent life insurance certificate, term life insurance certificate, or annuity for two years or more prior to May 31. A $1,000 award is being offered.

Total: $5000

Awards: 5

Deadline: May 31, 2021

Traveler’s Foundation Scholarship – Tribal College Students

This scholarship is open to U.S. college sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent, attend selected tribal institutions, and are residents of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Florida, Minnesota, or Texas. Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and demonstrated financial need, and must major in business, accounting, computer science, computer technology, engineering, mathematics, and/or a related field.

Total: $4000

Awards: 1

Deadline: May 31, 2021

AISES 3M Scholarship

This scholarship is available for U.S. undergraduate students who are majoring in a STEM field. Applicants must have knowledge and experiences with American Indian tribal cultures, and demonstrate the potential for career work and contributions to American Indian tribes.

Total: $5000

Awards: 2

Deadline: May 31, 2021

Robert Trosten Scholarship

Robert Trosten came up with grant money of $1,000 for helping students hailing for poor families in the US, who want to opt for higher education for a fulfilling career in the future.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 01, 2021

Al Ponte Graduate Scholarship

This scholarship is available for U.S. graduate students who have a career focus in international relations or intelligence. The applicant must be a member of the Associaton of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO), OR the child or grandchild of a member of the AFIO, OR the child or grandchild of a serving intelligence professional.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: June 01, 2021

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