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How Do Colleges Determine Merit Scholarships?

2 Mins read

Getting into a good college is one thing, but earning a scholarship so that you can pay for a quality education is a completely different story. If you want to qualify for a merit scholarship, then you are going to need to know what your top schools are looking for. The first thing you want to determine is whether or not each school awards merit scholarships. If you can’t afford college without one, then you shouldn’t waste your time applying to schools that don’t offer them. It’s also important to note that the more competitive the school is, the more difficult it will be to qualify for a scholarship. This is how colleges determine merit scholarships.

How Do Colleges Determine Merit Scholarships

Grade Point Average

Most colleges assess students for scholarships in almost the exact same way that they assess them for admissions. So your grade point average is definitely going to be a very important factor. Not only will they look at your overall GPA, they will also take a look at the trends you exhibit on your transcripts. If they can see that your grades took a temporary dip that was quickly rectified, they will be more forgiving than if your grades just weren’t ever very impressive.

Course Load

If you’ve been trying to keep your grades up by taking fewer and easier classes, then this definitely won’t work to your benefit when you start applying for merit scholarships. Clearly there is a lot more merit in taking a risk and challenging yourself than there is in taking the easy road. If you aren’t enrolled in any honors or advanced placement classes, then you might want to try to get into some.

Test Scores

Your standardized test scores aren’t everything, but of course, if you score extremely well on them, they will definitely open a lot of doors for you. That’s why you want to invest a lot of time and effort into your SAT preparation. You should spend at least a year preparing yourself for this test, because it’s not just about the content on the test, it’s also about the way that the test is administered.

Extracurricular Activities

If you have taken any highly active roles in extracurricular activities, either on or off campus, then you should definitely talk about this in your application. If you have put in a lot of extra community service hours, then you want to discuss what this experience has taught you and make a point of demonstrating your passions outside of school. Anything that shines a light on your leadership skills or your personal integrity is very important.


Sometimes it can be very tedious and discouraging when you constantly look at yourself in relationship to the data on your school records. Your transcripts and your test scores may say one thing, but what about the way that you use your time and the way that you contribute positively to your classes? This is the information that should matter most, and without a strong reference, your top schools like UAB Online and USF may never know just how great you are as a student. That’s why you want to be sure to get strong references from your teachers and/or coaches.

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