Merit-Based Scholarships

The 411 on Merit-Based Scholarships

Today’s question comes from Adam. His question is, “What is a merit scholarship and how do I get one?”

Well, here at, we’re all about helping students find free money for college, so we’re going to fill you in on all the details – what you need to know about merit scholarships, how to find them, and tips on improving your chances of earning a merit scholarship. Check out Jess, our newest “scholarship expert,” in this short video to learn more!

What is a merit scholarship? It’s pretty much what it sounds like – a free scholarship offered to students who work really hard in school to get good grades and graduate at or near the top of the class. Sometimes students may be awarded merit-based scholarships for achieving certain ACT or SAT scores. Students also may receive merit scholarships if they complete high school with high grade point averages.

In addition to academic performance, however, there can be other factors involved that could make merit-based scholarships slightly different than academic scholarships. Merit scholarships may also require a candidate to demonstrate excellence in extracurricular activities, such as achieving Eagle Scout status or competing and performing well at a Math Team or Science Fair event. Some merit scholarships go to students with leadership experience, such as serving as the president of the student body or as an officer in a school club.

Also, it’s important to remember that some merit-based scholarships are considered to be “automatic” – students who meet the criteria qualify automatically for the free money as long as they apply for admission at whatever college is offering it.  Other merit scholarships are considered to be highly competitive; students must put together stellar application packets and may even have to appear in person for scholarship interviews to beat the competition and actually earn whatever merit money they are seeking.

These are just a few examples of merit scholarships, but all scholarships have their own requirements and application processes. Be sure to do your research in advance to know what you’ll need to be eligible for a merit scholarship from a college or university. Even if you’re a straight “A” student and think you’ll quality for a merit scholarship, it’s always a good idea to look for other sources of funding that can help you pay for school and cover other expenses like tuition and books. Start searching for scholarships at today. It’s fast, easy, and free!

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Tamara is the Social Media Coordinator and a regular writer for, and She enjoys helping students prepare for college. As a mother of four, Tamara has first-hand experience with many areas of education, including special needs (autism), the International Baccalaureate program and post-secondary education. She enjoys speaking at schools and mentoring others online. In her free time, Tamara enjoys volunteering and supporting her favorite football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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