Unlike need-based aid, which is based entirely on your family’s financial situation, scholarships and merit aid awards are in recognition of your achievements and promise — academic, athletic, community, artistic, intellectual, extracurricular activities, etc.
Merit aid – grants, scholarships and tuition discounts, awarded without regard to financial need – is available to students from wealthy families and those with modest means.
According to the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs’ (NASSGAP) 38th annual survey, merit aid comprised more than 25% of the $9.3 billion of state-funded aid during recent years. Billions more dollars of merit aid are awarded annually by colleges, universities, endowments and other groups.
During recent years, a number of public and private colleges have stepped-up their merit aid programs to attract top students. At some schools, the growth in merit-based aid has outpaced need-based aid in an effort to attract affluent students with higher board scores who will improve the school’s profile and its potential ranking on the various college lists. Many of these students have less than perfect GPAs.
You can learn about merit aid opportunities from colleges and universities (check the school’s web site or contact the admissions and/or financial aid office), your guidance counselor and state aid agencies. The National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs (NASSGAP) provides Scholarships and Merit Aid.
Scholarships are another source of merit aid. Non-profit groups, corporations, foundations, community organizations, wealthy individuals, religious groups, civic clubs and affinity groups award hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Consider these scholarship guidebooks, they can help expedite your efforts.
- The Scholarship Book, 13th Edition: The Complete Guide to Private-Sector Scholarships, Fellowships, Grants, and Loans for the Undergraduate
- The Everything Paying For College Book: Grants, Loans, Scholarships, And Financial Aid — All You Need To Fund Higher Education (Everything: School and Careers)
Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.