All About Merit Based Scholarships

By Holly Schoch , last updated January 10, 2012

Stressed out about how you are going to pay for college, whether for yourself or if you have kids? Luckily for you, there is over $11 billion available each year from universities around the country. You may be wondering how you could possibly get your hands on some of this $11 billion. Well, all of these scholarships are available from countless universities solely based on merit. Up until a few years ago, it was extremely difficult to discover merit aid. Unless your child or you yourself were an athlete and scouts found you first or you were an academic genius that had schools chasing after you, begging you to attend there school, merit scholarships were relatively hidden until you applied and were accept. Now, there are countless sites that can help you to narrow down your choice of university based on how much they offer in merit. Meritaid.com and Fastweb.com are just two of the websites that offer incredible ways to find these types of scholarships.

Merit awards are given based on a number of different credentials. One way to qualify for a merit scholarship is to compete in the National Merit Scholarship Corporation competition. Each year, they have a competition that is made of qualifying students from around the nation. Students qualify for the competition by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. This test is given by school rather than by individual. If you are interested in taking the test, you should talk to the guidance counselor at your school to see if it can be arranged. This test should be taken during the junior year of high school and is only for students who plan on attending a four year accredited college or university. This merit award is usually $2,500. Other merit scholarships may be based on the academics at your school, whether or not you were a student athlete, if you were valedictorian, as well as a number of other areas. The difference between merit scholarships and financial aid is no matter your financial situation you can quality for a merit scholarship. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor; a merit scholarship is given to those who deserve it most.

MeritAid.com is a great starting point for these types of scholarships. When you sign up for free on their website, you are given the opportunity to fill out a profile that will then be sent to colleges around the nation. Not only are you given information on these colleges and the merit scholarships they provide, but you are given the opportunity to have colleges contact you. Depending on your resume and the accomplishment you have from your high school career, many colleges and universities may be interested in having you apply to their institution. Much like a scout would go out and find the best athlete, colleges are constantly looking for ways to pull in the best and the brightest. These types of websites are the perfect way for them to do so.

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