What’s a Merit Scholarship?

Merit scholarships are free money for college, awarded based on your achievements, not your finances. Think of them as rewards for being awesome!

A Merit Scholarship is a type of financial aid awarded to students based on academic, artistic, or athletic merit, rather than financial need.

What kind of Awesome?

  • Academics: High GPA, strong test scores, academic awards (think National Merit!)
  • Activities: Leadership roles, community service, impressive talents (music, art, robotics)
  • Athletics: Star athletes who can boost a team (sports scholarships!)

Where to find them:

  • Colleges: Many offer automatic merit scholarships based on your application.
  • Private organizations: National and local groups award scholarships for specific interests, talents, or backgrounds.
  • Websites: Explore Scholarship search engines like Fastweb, College Board, and Unigo.

How to get started:

  1. Identify your “awesome”: What are you good at? What activities make you shine?
  2. Research: Find scholarships that match your achievements and interests.
  3. Apply, apply, apply! Meet deadlines, follow instructions, and showcase your awesomeness in essays and applications.
  4. Renew and repeat: Many scholarships are renewable if you maintain good grades and involvement.

Here are some key things to know about Merit Scholarships:

  • They are usually awarded for demonstrated talent, skill, or achievement in a particular area, like academics, sports, music, art, etc. The criteria vary between different scholarships.
  • Merit scholarships do not consider financial need. They are meant to reward and encourage talent and excellence.
  • Common merit scholarships in academics are awarded based on GPA, test scores, class rank, etc. There may be scholarships for achieving a certain GPA or test score threshold.
  • For sports and arts, they are often awarded based on performance, auditions, portfolio reviews, competition placements, etc.
  • The award amounts for merit scholarships can range from a few hundred dollars to covering full tuition and other costs. More prestigious ones like National Merit offer larger awards.
  • Application is required for most merit scholarships. Students have to actively apply and compete to win the awards. There are usually deadlines to apply.
  • Merit scholarships are offered by colleges and universities, governmental and non-profit organizations, corporations, professional associations, and more. Research is needed to find the ones to apply for.
  • They can provide huge financial assistance to students pursuing higher education without need-based aid eligibility. However, competition is often intense for prominent merit scholarships.

Merit scholarships are a powerful tool to make college more affordable. By showcasing your talents and achievements, you can unlock free money for your future! Now go out there and get rewarded for being awesome!

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