Merit-based scholarships are not hard to get, contrary to the Talent comes in all shapes and sizes: We have all heard this saying at least once in our lives. Fortunately, the majority of the US merit-based scholarship awarding organizations also believe in this wisdom. In other words, you can get a merit-based scholarship irrespective of your academic performance.
The criteria may vary from scholarship to scholarship, but if you have abilities like leadership, are exceptional in a sport, or have an artistic mind, there’s a high chance that you can land a merit-based scholarship by impressing the interviewing panel with your skills. Others even award the winners based on their financial needs.
Be that as it may, in order to secure a scholarship for college or university in the US, you must have a lot of patience and perseverance, because most of these competitions are really tough to crack without any prior knowledge about them. Otherwise, you might end up wasting your time and energy filling out applications for scholarships that actually do not fit your profile.
Here is a list of top-8 scholarships for students who want to pursue a 4-year college degree.
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
When a foundation like Coca-Cola is involved in offering merit-based scholarships, you can already imagine the level of competition there will be. Each year, 2,000 applicants for the $20,000 Coca-Cola merit-based grant are shortlisted as the ‘semi-finalists.’ Out of these 2,000 semi-finalists, only 150 winners of the merit-based scholarship.
To be eligible for the Coca-Cola scholarship, you must be a high school senior with top grades who has demonstrated leadership skills in community service. Also, applicants are judged on their essays, extracurricular activities and awards received. The application deadline is usually around November 15th of each year.
- Award Amount: $20,000-$100,000
- All applicants must have an outstanding academic record throughout their high school tenure. This includes being in the top 10% of your graduating class or scoring at least a 20 composite ACT score or 1350 SAT score.
- Applicants should also have participated in at least two extracurricular activities involving community services or leadership.
- Lastly, the applicants must write a 2000-2500 word essay about how they fit in with Coca-Cola’s five dimensions of leadership: Trustworthy, Empowering others, Inclusive, Servant and Courageous.
Buick Achievers Scholarship
With a grant amount of $25,000 and only 50 finalists, the Buick Achievers Scholarship is without a doubt the dream merit-based scholarship every high-schooler wants to get. As an applicant, you must have an exceptional academic and leadership record and interest in fields like technology and engineering to have bright chances for the Buick Achievers Scholarship.
The Buick Achievers Scholarship is offered by the Buick Achievers Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the nation’s best and brightest students. The scholarship aims at motivating young people who have not only made it on their own but also strive towards helping others achieve success as well.
To be eligible for this merit-based scholarship, you must first apply online during October and November of each year between your junior and senior years in high school. After receiving nominations from your teacher or counselor, you will be deemed a semi-finalist and may proceed to the second round if you meet certain criteria such as grades and test scores. The final result of the selection process is announced March 1st of each year.
- Award Amount: $25,000
- You must be a high school senior who has maintained an exemplary academic record.
- Applicants may also nominate themselves for this scholarship by submitting an essay of 500 words or more about their future educational pursuits and career goals. This is usually the first step towards your application process.
- Lastly, you should have garnered extracurricular activities which involve leadership skills as well as community service is done with pride and enthusiasm. The maximum yearly family income allowed according to the Buick Achievers Scholarship is set at $250,000. However, those who fall under this category may still apply as long as they can prove financial need.
Awarded to 500 young high-school graduates each year, Dell ensures that the future generation is in touch with the technological marvels around us. Along with a $20,000 grant for tuition, each awardee of the Dell Scholars merit-based scholarship gets a brand-new laptop and money for books and other college expenses as well. To be eligible for this scholarship, you must have maintained a minimum GPA of 3.3 throughout your high school tenure and been among the top 5% in your graduating class to qualify for this award.
The Dell Scholars merit-based scholarship is targeted towards rewarding young achievers with an affinity towards technology and who plan on majoring in subjects such as science or engineering in college. To apply for this scholarship, you must first submit a detailed profile online during October and November of each year until March 15th. Applicants will then be selected based on their academic record, application essays and extracurricular activities along with a personal interview with a member of the selection board.
- Award Amount: $20,000-$60,000
- You must be a high school senior who has maintained an excellent academic record.
- Applicants may nominate themselves for this scholarship by opting to submit an essay of 500 words or more about their future educational pursuits and career goals. This is usually the first step towards your application process.
- In addition, you should have been involved in co-curricular activities which involve leadership skills as well as community service done with pride and enthusiasm. The maximum yearly family income allowed according to the Dell Scholars Scholarship is set at $200,000. However, those who fall under this category may still apply if they can prove financial need.
National Merit Scholarship Program
The National Merit Scholarship Program is regarded as one of the most renowned merit-based scholarship programs among high-school graduates throughout the US. Based on the PSAT/NMSQT results, the scholarship is awarded to around 7600 finalists from all US states. The award amount varies from one awardee to another, but the average range of the award falls around $2,500. For those who wish to join the ranks of this scholarship, you must first qualify as a semifinalist. The Semifinalist status is granted based on PSAT/NMSQT Academic Awards and National Merit PSAT State Score Index results.
- Award Amount: $2,500-$7,600
- Students must be in their senior year of high school and have maintained an excellent overall academic record throughout junior and senior years.
- Applicants may nominate themselves for this scholarship by opting to submit an essay that discusses their future goals and educational pursuits along with information about extracurricular activities they've been involved with over the years. This usually constitutes half your application process.
- The other half of the application process requires students to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). Students who receive a merit-based score on this test are labeled as Semifinalists.
Gates Millennium Scholars Program
Founded by Bill and Melinda Gates, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is one of the most prestigious merit-based scholarship programs that focuses strictly on exceptional students from minority communities. Each year, 1000 students from such communities receive the scholarship to continue their 4-year degree in science, engineering, and technology. The amount of scholarship varies as per requirements.
- Award Amount: $1,000-$20,000
Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- You must be a high school senior who has maintained an excellent academic record throughout.
- You should belong to an ethnic minority group such as African American, Hispanic or Native American, etc., and come from a family that earns less than $60,000 per year (for four years in a row). These numbers are simply listed as guidelines; you may still apply if your family's income falls somewhere below this mark especially when you can present evidence of financial need.
- Applicants will have to enroll in college and pursue their undergraduate degrees within the next 16 months.
Foot Locker Scholarship
As a merit-based scholarship dedicated to students with exceptional academic and athletic skills, the Foot Locker Scholarship is something every high-school sports player wants to achieve. The scholarship plans distribute the $20,000 amount in a 4-year program ($5,000 per year). The scholarship awarding authority doesn’t demand from you to renew the scholarship each year. But you must maintain a certain GPA in order to retain the scholarship.
- Award Amount: $5,000
In order to qualify for this award, applicants should meet these criteria:
- You must be a high school senior in your final year and take part in a full-time NCAA college athletics program in any of the 27 sports Foot Locker partners with.
- Your athletic performance should be judged as exceptional by your coach or trainer which results in competitive excellence among other skilled athletes pursuing their degree at the same time.
- The award is merit-based; therefore, students can renew it annually on the basis of their academic achievements (GPA). The minimum GPA varies from 2.0 to 3.2 depending on the college you pursue your degree in.
Udall Undergraduate Scholarship
Administered by the Udall Foundation, the Udall merit-based scholarship is a $7,000 award for high school graduates who want to pursue a career in environment or conservation policies. Each year, the grant is awarded to around 55 students who can be either Native Americans or belong to the Alaska Natives if they want the funding for fields like health care, tribal policy, and similar.
- Award Amount: $7,000
Applicants must meet these criteria to be qualified for this scholarship program:
- You must demonstrate financial need. The Foundation requires the number of family members you support as your criterion which shouldn’t exceed four.
- The scholarship doesn’t take GPA and SAT scores into account; it is awarded purely on the basis of socio-economic status and academic excellence. Applicants should have a strong background in math and science to prepare them well for subjects that relate directly to their proposed field of study.
Barry Goldwater Scholarship
The Barry Goldwater merit-based scholarship was initiated in the memory of Arizona Senator and 1964 Republican nominee for President, Mr. Barry Goldwater. The grant is open for any high school graduate wanting to pursue a 4-year college degree in fields like engineering, natural sciences, etc. The scholarship awards a $7,500 annual grant to around 400 recent high school graduates from around the US.
- Award Amount: $7,500
Applicants must meet the following criteria to be qualified for this scholarship program:
- You must have a GPA of at least 3.75 in your high school program and preferably take advanced-level courses in math and science while you are still in high school.
- You should represent either an ethnic minority group or a lower socio-economic background which gives you a raw deal when it comes to college expense reimbursement. This can be proved through your family's income level, parents' education status, etc. Applicants should also show their passion for math and natural sciences by taking part in research projects or study opportunities while they are still students.
Applying for scholarships is the only way to fund your tuition fees. It costs $1,019 on an average per semester according to the College Board Report. However, students cannot afford these expenses after completing high school which requires more income than just taking part in college sports programs.
Luckily, there are several types of merit-based scholarship opportunities that don’t take into account applicants' GPA or SAT scores but rather their financial background and academic excellence. While most of these scholarships are for a particular group of students, there are some that can be given to any student who matches the criteria. If you have an idea about which kind of scholarship you want to apply for, explore our website more and find out if it is going to be a good fit for your academic profile.
We have covered the top merit scholarships and we hope that you benefit with the given information.