How do I Find Merit Scholarships?

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How do I Find Merit Scholarships?

Unlike need-based aid, which is based on your family’s finances, merit scholarships are awarded based on your academic or extracurricular performance. The vast majority of this money comes from college themselves. Thus, your best bet for maximizing merit money is applying to colleges where your grades/test scores put you in the top quartile of the applicant pool (i.e. they are higher than at least 75% of admitted students). These are the schools that will likely offer you a significant discount to attend (Even better? You typically don’t have to fill out a seperate application for these institutional scholarships).

Of course, money is also available through private organizations and foundations. These scholarships usually require an application, which may consist of essay questions and requests for letters of recommendation. In order to find these private scholarships, you should:

--Create a profile on sites such as Fastweb or College Board's Scholarship Search in order to locate scholarships that might be a good fit for you.

--Talk to your high school guidance counselor.

--Check with local churches and chapters of service organizations (VFW, Elks, Masons, Rotary, etc.).

--Google! More specifically, search for scholarships opportunities in your city, county, or school district. Local scholarships typically have smaller applicant pools, which may increase your chance of getting selected!

--Check your school district website. Every February, for example, the Roseville Joint Union High School District releases a comprehensive list of local scholarships for the district’s seniors (here is a link last year’s booklet). 

Your high school website may also list scholarship opportunities

Finally, there a number of national scholarships that may be a good option for extremely high-achieving high school seniors. If you have a perfect or near-perfect GPA, 1 1450+ SAT score or 33+ ACT score, and a stellar record of extracurricular achievement, you might consider one or more of the following:

Elk National “Most Valuable Student” Scholarships

Amount: up to $12,500 per year

Due Date: Nov 15

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarships

Amount: $20,000 

Due Date: Oct 30th

Cameron Impact Scholarship 

Amount: full-tuition for 4 years

Due Date: Sept 12th

Comcast Leaders & Achievers Scholarships

Amount: base amount of $1000

Due Date: Nov 30th

Cooke College Scholarship Program (eligibility is income-based)

Amount: up to $40,000

Due Date: Nov 20th

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