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 .

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Associate Degree Academic Transfer Scholarship

This award is for U.S. students who are transferring to the University of Louisiana Lafayette after earning an associate’s degree. Students must be residents of Louisiana and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher.

Total: $1800

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2021

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, 2021

Charles W. Riley Firefighter and Ambulance and Rescue Squad Member Scholarship Program

This award is for Maryland residents who are pursuing in a degree or certificate program in either fire service technology or emergency medical technology at a postsecondary institution in Maryland. The student must be an active career or volunteer firefighter, ambulance or rescue squad member and agree to serve a Maryland community as a career or volunteer firefighter or ambulance and rescue squad member while taking college courses.

Total: $2559

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2021

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, 2021

GCA Internship and Scholarship in Garden History and Design

This internship is available to students with courses in horticulture, ornamental horticulture, landscape design and related fields who are interested in working for 10 weeks in the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian Institution or at any facility approved by the scholarship committee providing adequate supervision and structure.

Total: $4000

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2021

Jefferson County Single Parent Scholarship

Single undergraduate parents who are the head of the household and live in Jefferson County, Arkansas are eligible for this award. Students must have one or more children under the age of 18 and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $500

Awards: 3

Deadline: July 01, 2021

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, 2021

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, 2021

Solar Action Alliance Scholarship Program

The Solar Action Alliance Scholarship program is available for U.S. students who have a grade point average of 3.2 or higher. To apply, applicants must submit an original essay of between 500 and 1,000 words on the topic of the future of solar power.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: July 01, 2021

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, 2021

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