Top Merit-Based Scholarships

by | Sep 25, 2022 | 0 comments

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Merit scholarships can be awarded by both colleges and universities, as well as private organizations. Below we have organized the top merit scholarships into the following groups:

Merit scholarships at public colleges & universities

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)

  • Alabama offers a wide range of merit programs available to students both in-state and out

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)

  • ASU offers a number of generous need- and merit-based scholarship programs for students

Auburn University (Auburn, AL)

  • Offers the National Scholars Presidential Scholarship to National Merit Finalists and National Achievement Finalists
  • This program awards full-tuition scholarships to students both in-state and out-of-state, along with several other perks (including a $1,000 technology stipend)

University of California- Berkeley

  • UC-Berkeley offers scholarships based on both need and merit

University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, Colorado)

  • UC-Boulder offers a variety of merit- and need-based scholarship programs to both in-state and out-of-state students

Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)

  • Several merit programs are offered, the largest and most prestigious of which is the President’s Scholarship
  • The President’s Scholarship is offered to 50 of the top high school senior applicants

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

  • The University of Michigan offers mostly need-based, but several merit scholarships as well

University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

  • Several full-tuition merit scholarships available to students both in-state and out-of-state

University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)

  • For UVa’s Jefferson Scholars program, in-state scholars receive $26,000 each year, and out-of-state or international Jefferson Scholars will receive an annual stipend of over $53,000
  • This program creates a network of current scholars and alumni, along with providing a variety of structured enrichment opportunities to scholars

College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA)

  • Merit programs include the 1693 Scholars Program and the Monroe Scholars Program ($3,000 research stipend, special housing option)

Merit scholarships at private national universities

Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA)

  • Offers a full-tuition merit scholarship (the Presidential Scholars Program) to 15 students
  • No separate application is required to be considered for the scholarship, although students must apply through the Early Action application process

Boston University (Boston, MA)

  • BU has generous scholarship opportunities including both need-based and merit-based scholarships

Brandeis College (Waltham, MA)

  • Six separate programs available, five of which are for incoming freshmen (with one for rising juniors)

Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

  • Carnegie Mellon University offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students on the basis of both merit and financial need

Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)

  • Case Western Reserve University has several scholarships that students are automatically considered for, as well as scholarships by additional application

Duke University (Durham, NC)

  • Duke offers 9 merit programs which include full-tuition scholarships

Elon University (Elon, NC)

  • Elon offers merit- and need-based programs to students

Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)

  • Check out the Georgetown Incentive Scholarships for need-based aid with a merit component

Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA)

  • A number of merit scholarship programs are offered, including several specific to the arts (look under “Academic Merit Awards/Scholarships”)

New York University (New York, NY)

  • NYU offers a mix of merit and need-based programs for students

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)

  • The Rensselaer Medal Scholarship is a 4-year, minimum $15,000 per year merit scholarship

Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)

  • SMU offers merit scholarships up to full tuition & room/board!
  • Other scholarships also include awards for students in specific majors (such as Engineering, the arts, and STEM)

University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

  • UChicago offers merit scholarships and scholarships specifically meant for first-generation college students

University of Miami (Miami, Florida)

  • A number of full-tuition merit scholarships are offered, including the Isaac Bashevis Singer Scholarship and the Ronald A. Hammond Scholarship

University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)

  • The University of Rochester offers a wide variety of merit scholarships for all different types of students

University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

  • USC offers a number of full-tuition, half-tuition, and quarter-tuition merit scholarships

Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)

  • All students are considered for partial tuition scholarships by simply submitting their application
  • There are 130 full tuition scholarships awarded that require a separate scholarship application (that is due on December 5th)y

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

  • Full-tuition awards plus summer stipends for study abroad, research or service projects will be awarded to 250 students; other, smaller merit programs are also available

Villanova University

  • Villanova University awards a number of scholarships based on students’ academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and leadership skills. Awards range from $500 all the way to the prestigious Presidential Scholarship, which covers full tuition, room, board, general fees, and textbooks for eight semesters

Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC)

  • WFU has a wide variety of merit programs available to incoming students, including general merit scholarships (such as the Reynolds Scholarships) and scholarships recognizing achievement in art, dance, debate, music, and theater (Presidential Scholarships for Distinguished Achievement)

Washington University in St. Louis

  • Washington Universities’ Danforth, Ervin, and Rodriguez Scholar Programs are all merit-based scholarship programs ranging up to the full cost of tuition

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)

  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers merit scholarships to students ranging from $10,000 per year to $25,000 per year

Merit scholarships at small liberal arts colleges

Denison University (Granville, OH)

  • Denison offers over 1000 scholarships to first year students
  • Scholarships range from $2,000 to $46,000

Kenyon College (Gambier, OH)

  • Merit scholarships range from $15,000 per year to the full cost of tuition
  • Kenyon awards merit aid to about the top 15% of admitted students
  • Scholarships for students talented in art, creative writing, and music are also available

Macalester College (St. Paul, MN)

  • Merit scholarships awarded to approximately 50% of U.S. first-year students
  • Macalester (unlike many top schools) also offers merit scholarships to International Students
  • Merit awards range from $2,000 to $64,000 over four years

Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA)

  • Grinnell offers several merit scholarship programs which range from $10,000 to $50,000 per year

Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)

  • Oberlin offers merit scholarships based on academics and also “contributions to the student’s school and home community.”

Private merit scholarships

Cameron Impact Scholarship

  • Eligibility: Graduating  high school seniors in the USA
  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: End of October of each year

Coca Cola Scholarship

  • Eligibility: Graduating  high school seniors in the USA
  • Amount: $20,000
  • Deadline: End of October of each year

College JumpStart Scholarship

  • Eligibility: Students in grades 10 to 12, as well as traditional college-age and adult learners
  • Amount: $1,000
  • Deadline: April 15 and October 17 of each year

Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship

  • Eligibility: Current high school seniors who are citizens of the United States are eligible to apply
  • Amount: 500 awards worth from $4,000 to $5,000
  • Deadline: Mid-November of each year

Equitable Excellence Scholarship 

  • Eligibility: High-achieving United States citizens or legal residents in the 50 United States, Washington, D.C., or Puerto Rico who are seniors in high school planning on attending a two or four year college or  university
  • Amount:  $2,500, $10,000 or $25,000
  • Deadline: Mid-December of each year (after 10,000 applications are submitted, scholarship closes, so apply asap!)

National Merit Scholarship Program

  • Eligibility: High school juniors and is based on their PSAT score
  • Amount: $2,500
  • Deadline: Early October of each year

Tips for applying to merit-based scholarships

Here are six important things you need to know if you want to win a college merit scholarship:

Choose the right colleges 

One of the biggest mistakes students make when building their college list is not paying enough attention to merit scholarships. As a rule of thumb, you want to identify colleges where your admissions “stats” align with the percentage of students winning merit scholarships.

So, if a college offers merit scholarships to 25% of applicants, you should be in the top 25% of applicants as far as test scores and GPA. Scattergrams are a great way to assess how your GPA and test scores stack up.

Research the specific scholarships

College merit scholarships can vary from college to college. At some schools, all admitted students are automatically considered for merit scholarships.

At other colleges, students will need to complete an essay, separate application, or interview as part of the scholarship application process. Some colleges will even offer merit scholarships for students who have a specific talent in art, music, theater, or another area. 

Cast a wide(ish) net

If you are serious about winning a merit scholarship at a specific college, you will need to cast a wide net. While being towards the top of the applicant pool will generally make you a strong candidate for merit scholarships, there are no guarantees.

This is why we recommend that you apply to 10 colleges where you will be seriously competitive for merit scholarships. This will increase your odds of having a few merit scholarship offers to choose from.

Mind your deadlines

Some colleges will ask students to apply by a specific deadline to be eligible for merit scholarships. Make sure that you are applying by the necessary deadlines (remember, this deadline may be different than the admissions deadline).

Don’t forget to apply for need-based financial aid too

Remember, you can apply for both merit scholarships and need-based financial aid! Make sure that you submit your FAFSA and any other required financial aid documents such as the CSS Profile by the necessary deadline.

This will ensure that you are being considered for all potential scholarships–merit and need-based–at the colleges on your list.

Read the fine print about scholarship renewal

Certain schools might require you to submit evidence that you’re maintaining a certain GPA or meeting other requirements to remain eligible for your award.

It’s essential to stay on top of any continuing obligations to your school’s financial aid office.

Need-based financial aid will also need to be renewed, so make sure you understand what the FAFSA renewal process entails!

Weil College Advising

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