Chapter 7: Merit-based and Need-based Aid, in the book, “Show Me the Money: Scholarships, Financial Aid, and Making the Right College Choice,” assists students in identifying how to research sources of merit- and need-based financial aid. Merit-based aid is awarded based on a student’s merit, e.g., academics, arts, leadership, community service, etc. Although athletic scholarships are the most widely publicized form of merit-based aid, there are many opportunities for students to qualify for academic merit-based aid. For many students the clearest path to merit-based financial aid based on academic merit is their class rank, SAT score, ACT score, and GPA. TheCollegiateBlog website lists 65 colleges with guaranteed merit scholarships. Several of the students in the 11th and 12th grade cohorts we work with each year at our church have received full scholarships based on the strength of their SAT scores, ACT scores, and GPA. The New York Times publishes a comprehensive listing of over 600 colleges and universities and the percentage of merit-based financial aid they are offering.

For example the following table provides an example of the types of merit-based financial aid associated with SAT and ACT scores.

SAT/ACT Score1400 SAT – 32 ACT1300 SAT – 29 ACT1250 SAT – 28 ACT
Texas Tech$6,000/yr$4,000/yr$3500/yr
University of Alabama-Birmingham$7,000/yr$7,000/yr$7,000/yr
Ferris StateFull Tuition$5,500/yr$4,000/yr
Ohio UniversityFull Tuition$1,500/yr$1,000/yr
Northern Illinois$23,500/yr$7,000/yr$7,000/yr
Miami of OhioHalf – Full Tuition$4,000-8,000/yr$2,000-6,000/yr
University of Georgia$10,500/yr$5,250/yr$5,250/yr
Auburn UniversityFull Tuition$2,500/yr$2,500/yr
LeMoyne College$23,750/yr$23,750/yr$17,500/yr
Maryville University$14,000/yr$14,000/yr$14,000/yr
Howard UniversityTuition, fees, room, board, and $500 book voucherTuition, fees, and roomTuition and fees
Xavier University of LouisianaTuition, fees, room, board, and $1000 book voucherTuition, fees, room, board, and $1000 book voucherTuition, fees, room, board, and $1000 book voucher

As evidenced from the widely varying amounts of financial aid offered by different institutions, it is important for students and families to carefully consider where students will receive the best financial aid package based on their academic achievement. College Confidential has two large listings of colleges offering merit-based scholarships and click here.

The article Oregonian article, “Higher SAT, ACT scores pay off with bigger college scholarships for Oregon grads” provides further insight into the type of merit-based scholarships being offered students based on their SAT and ACT scores.