Merit-Based Grants and Merit-Based Scholarships
Students looking for merit-based grants and merit-based scholarships need to plan far ahead. High school students who are convinced that they will be going to college, receive excellent grades, and perform well on standardized tests will want to inform their high school counselor’s of their intent to find merit-based grants and merit-based scholarships at the beginning of their junior year of high school.
Unlike need-based grants, merit-based grants do not require proof of financial need. Despite this, we still recommend all students apply for student aid on with the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.
Many merit-based grants require the FAFSA forms be completed as a part of standard procedure. Some grants are a combination of merit and need. The FAFSA forms should be completed during the student’s senior year of high school, ideally during the month of January.
In many cases, merit-based grants are issued by the state of one’s residence. Our website has links to local state agencies. Another resource of information for merit-based grants based on state of residence is the US Scholarship Guide.
Types of Merit-Based Grants and Scholarships
Remember that merit-based grants are mostly divided into different categories. Possibilities include: subject of study, ethnic background, religion, gender, disabilities, connections to professional organizations and societies, community service, honors societies, and athletic abilities.
There are merit-based grants from a program known as the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership (LEAP). It used to be known as State Student Incentive Grants. This merit-based grant program is still funded by individual states and the U.S. government. Interested students can find out more from their high school counselor or college financial aid office.
In addition, look into merit-based scholarships. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has been issuing awards to students every year since 1955. High school students compete for these awards through a qualifying test usually during their junior year. Students who are interested should see their high school counselor at the beginning of their junior year, as the test reservation is made by the high school and not directly by the student. Awards to-date have included $2,500 scholarships, corporate-sponsored merit scholarships, and college-sponsored merit scholarships. In addition, special scholarship have been awarded annually for up to 1,300 participants who did not make it as finalists in the main program.
Some other merit-based scholarships are available from the National Science Scholars Program. These merit-based scholarships reward high school seniors who have shown academic distinction in science. High school counselors will be able to provide more details to students interested in applying for merit-based grants and merit-based scholarships.