A merit scholarship is a financial award made toward college costs which does not have to be paid back. Such a scholarship or grant is based on academic, athletic, artistic, or other special accomplishments, such as volunteerism or writing. Merit aid may be also based on financial need but is primarily awarded on skill.
Financial aid in the past has been mostly based on need, but there is a new trend coming. Now 27 states are beginning to award their grant dollars, up to 50%, based more and more on academic talent.
The reasons are simple. Because states’ financial aid programs are being taxed by increasing numbers of applicants to their colleges and universities and by ever-higher tuition rates, narrowing the application pool for money is the solution that can keep their programs solvent. Fewer students have academic skills, determined by grades and SAT or ACT scores, than those who need money. Also, states can see that more merit monies can stem the brain drain from their state. If they can keep academically distinguished students in their state by awarding full-tuition scholarships, those students, who can be more easily accepted to selective colleges, will seek out-of-state colleges for admission much less.
This new development can encourage students to do better in high school and to keep up their grades throughout college. Also families with higher incomes can finally expect some help if their son or daughter is an achiever.
For those who have little money for college, you should know that federal grant dollars have been increased.