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 merit scholarships worth .

UNF HELP NE FL E Week Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. students who plan to attend the University of North Florida and declare an interest in majoring in engineering. Students must have a high school grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: October 15, 2021

UNF CSX Transportation Scholarship

This scholarship is available for U.S. students who are incoming freshmen at the University of North Florida. Students must have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, demonstrate a commitment to community service, and have financial need.

Total: $8000

Awards: 1

Deadline: October 15, 2021

Northwest Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship

This award is for U.S. high school graduates who are single parents with near poverty-level income. The applicant must be a resident of Carroll County, AR, Madison County, AR, or Washington County, AR, and must have received or be in the process of applying for a Pell Grant. Click to learn more and apply today!

Total: $500

Awards: 4

Deadline: October 15, 2021

Horatio Alger Ronald C. Waranch Scholarship Program (Texas)

This award is for high school seniors with a grade point average of 2.0 or higher who demonstrate critical financial need and are residents of Georgia.

Total: $10000

Awards: 2

Deadline: October 25, 2021

Good Works Scholarship

The scholarship program is open to all undergraduate, graduate, and law school students, as well as incoming college freshmen at an accredited U.S. educational institution. The candidate must be in good academic standing with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Additionally, they must show a dedicated interest in community service and projects pertaining to criminal justice.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: October 31, 2021

Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship

U.S. and international nursing students in baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs with a grade point average of 3.2 or higher are eligible for this award. Eligible applicants must be admitted or enrolled in a nursing school affiliated with CertifiedBackground.com or have submitted their application through NursingCAS.

Total: $5000

Awards: 8

Deadline: October 31, 2021

Catholic Order of Foresters Fraternal Scholarship

Catholic Order of Foresters is interested in developing future leaders for the Church and the community. This award is for high school seniors who will be entering college. Applicants must be insured members of the Catholic Order of Foresters. Each year 20 scholarships are awarded. Up to $5,000 awarded.

Total: $100000

Awards: 20

Deadline: October 31, 2021

FAU Honors/Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship

This award is available to U.S. students who will graduate from a Florida College System institution and plan to transfer to Florida Atlantic University. The student must be a graduate of an Honors Program or be a member of Phi Theta Kappa, and must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Total: $3200

Awards: 1

Deadline: November 01, 2021

Drury University International Baccalaureate Scholarship

U.S. graduating high school seniors who will receive an International Baccalaureate diploma are eligible for this award. Students must plan to attend Drury University in Missouri.

Total: $34000

Awards: 2

Deadline: November 01, 2021

FAU Transfer Educational Achievement Award (TEAA)

This award is available for U.S. students who are transferring from Florida College System institutions to Florida Atlantic University as juniors. The student must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and must demonstrate financial need.

Total: $3000

Awards: 1

Deadline: November 01, 2021

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