What Are Merit Based Scholarships?

High school student working on an art piece to apply for a merit based scholarship

People award merit based scholarships purely based on, as its name suggests, merit. For example, students can win them for their artistic talents, academic accomplishments, community involvement, belonging to a certain ethnicity or religion, and more. Merit scholarships are established by various organizations to reward students who have worked hard to stand out in some way. These organizations assess applications solely on merit. Unlike some scholarships, financial need is not taken into consideration when awarding merit based scholarships.

What Are The Criteria For Merit Based Scholarships?

Every organization sets their own specific criteria for their award, which may be different from other opportunities out there. Outstanding academic performance may be the sole criteria for some merit based opportunities. Others may consider a test scores and teacher recommendations in addition to academic grades.

Some merit scholarships are only open to students who have achieved some recognition in a certain field of study. This could be anything, from math, environmental science, to music, dance, or drama.

In some cases, you may need to meet some other requirement to qualify for a merit-based opportunity. For example, in addition to your academic achievement, you may also need to be a resident in a specific state. Other merit-based scholarships may only be open to students belonging to a certain high school. Still others may be open only to those belonging to a certain race, religion, gender, or some other demographic.

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Where to Find Merit Based Scholarships

Your counselor’s office is the best place to start your search. They look out for these opportunities and save the details to help deserving students win some free money towards college. Get the details of all scholarships that you qualify for and start working on putting together personalized applications for each.

The internet is, of course, another great place to look for all types of scholarships, including those that are merit based. Tweak your search so you are not wasting time browsing through hundreds of opportunities that do not apply for you

When looking for merit-based scholarships, don’t forget to look nearer home. Many local organizations and private businesses establish scholarships to reward deserving students in their community. These scholarships are easier to win since the locality limits the applicant pool. You will find these opportunities in the local newspaper, your high school notice board, and community websites or newsletters.

A Look at the Most Famous Merit Based Scholarship

When discussing merit based opportunities, you cannot ignore the biggest one of them all – the National Merit Scholarship Program. Established by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, this program aims to recognize and reward academic achievement. Applying to this program is different from applying to any other merit scholarship.

You must take the PSAT in your junior year of high school for consideration for a National Merit Scholarship. The PSAT serves as a qualifying test for entry into the National Merit Scholarship competition. If your scores are high enough, you are automatically entered for scholarship recognition.

Merit-based scholarships serve as compelling motivation to work hard and earn excellent grades and test score. Your reward – free money for your college tuition.

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