What Is a Merit Based Scholarship?

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When applying for scholarships, many students ask, "What is a merit based scholarship?"

It's a great question, but the answer has multiple parts:

  1. Definition of a merit based scholarship
  2. Merit scholarship factor 1: Academics
  3. Merit scholarship factor 2: Extracurricular activities
  4. Merit scholarship factor 3: Other factors
  5. Types of merit based scholarships
  6. Frequently asked questions about merit based scholarships
  7. How to win a merit based scholarship

Definition of a merit based scholarship

Merit scholarships are scholarships awarded based entirely on a student’s merits, such as academics, test scores, extracurricular activities, community service, and more. You may have heard of the National Merit Scholarship Program, which offers students funding based on their PSAT and SAT scores. Many students in college turn to merit scholarships, although a lot of highly selective schools do not offer a merit scholarship. In the 2019-2020 school year, 22% of undergraduates received merit aid. The average merit award during that time was $11,287.

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