Merit Aid is financial help to students based on academic or athletic achievements, special talents such as music, or other characteristics. It is money available to student regardless of their “need.” In other words, merit aid is not awarded based on the student's economic situation. Almost every traditional four-year college, public or private, offers some form of merit aid.
If you are a student looking for merit aid, here are tips that can improve your chances of receiving merit aid.
- Do research and find the schools that offer merit aid to students. Your best – and most accurate – bet is to search each college’s financial aid site. To help students get started, The New York Times recently created a chart of colleges and universities that award merit aid. US News and World Report also published a list of 10 schools where merit aid awards are most common. This latter list is based on data reported by the schools to the publication.
- Search http://www.MeritAid.com. As its name suggests, this is a good resource for merit aid.
- Choose colleges where you'd be at the top. If your grades and tests scores put you in the top 25 percent of the student body, there is a very good chance a school will try to woo you with merit aid.
- Take stock of your abilities. Merit aid also means athletic achievements and special talents. If you are skilled in sports, music, etc., merit aid and scholarships focusing on these abilities are worth looking into.
- Consider your interests. Your sports, hobbies, clubs, etc. may all offer scholarships. Among the countless activities and associations that offer merit aid are beauty pageants, service clubs, ice skating, honor societies and 4H.
- Evaluate merit aid scholarships that promote diversity. You may find you qualify for many merit scholarships simply because of who you are and/or where you live. A number of schools use merit aid to attract students who are different from the majority of their student body. Qualifications may include being from out of state, being a minority and gender.
- See if your major has merit aid. A number of merit scholarships are earmarked for students with a particular major.
- Look into merit aid offered by state governments. Accessing this money typically requires you to meet certain GPA, test score and residence requirements. Two examples: Graduating high school students in the state of Florida may receive a Bright Futures scholarship for most public and private colleges in Florida if they earn at least a 3.5 average in high school; New York State Scholarships for Academic Excellence program provides top scholars with $1,500 scholarships to study at in-state colleges.
- Apply Apply Apply for scholarships. These are a form of merit aid under another name. We mentioned a few roads to scholarships up above but there are literally thousands of scholarships with all sorts of eligibility requirements. We will elaborate on scholarships in another email.
- Negotiate. If you have received admission letters from two or more schools of equivalent standards, don't be afraid to 'bargain.' Some schools may be willing to match a merit grant offered by another school.
In 2012, the college advisers at International College Counselors helped more than 200 students find, apply to and gain acceptance into the college of their dreams. The expert college advisers at International College Counselors are dedicated to helping students and their parents with the often daunting and complex college application process.
For more information on International College Counselors or to contact an expert
college counselor, please visit www.internationalcollegecounselors.com.