Are You Eligible For a Merit Scholarship?

What exactly is a merit scholarship? A merit scholarship is one given to those who demonstrate the ability to benefit the person awarded the scholarship and to the institution awarding it. Merit scholarships may be awarded to students demonstrating the ability to succeed academically, but may also be awarded to a student exhibiting athletic or artistic talent, or a combination of the two. It’s safe to say, then, that, while all other scholarships are merit-based, not all merit scholarships would qualify as academic scholarships.
There are a great many scholarships available to college sophomores. Each year, thousands of high school students, juniors and seniors, are offered a free ride to the college of their choice by applying for national merit scholarship programs. While these scholarships offer a golden opportunity to those who deserve them, there are some who take advantage of the system. If you want to receive an academic scholarship, and not wind up in a life of financial distress, it is important to understand the eligibility requirements.
Like all scholarships, academic and financial awards are decided upon based on the qualifications and achievements of the applicant. The most common type of scholarship offered to students is the merit-based scholarship. These scholarships require a student to display an ability to excel in the areas of the award recipient’s chosen field. For example, a national merit scholarship for a mathematics major may require a student to show a good academic standing and/or proven leadership skills. It may also require proof of participation in extracurricular activities.
The next most common form of merit-based scholarship is the special interest-based scholarship. Academic and financial rewards are not the only advantages of selecting a scholarship for a specific, chosen area of study. Students who demonstrate special interests in a particular subject, sport, hobby or vocation are frequently given grants for their extra enthusiasm and commitment.
National merit-based scholarships for college sophomores often have a set term or limited amount of money awarded. A student may earn as much as $1000 in scholarship money, although the actual amount can vary greatly among programs. Students who are in their senior year of college usually receive the largest monetary award. In order to apply for such a scholarship, a student must first declare his/her major and declare that he/she plans to major in a field which receives high marks and receives high acceptance rates.
Students must be admitted to an eligible college prior to applying for any type of financial award, including merit-based scholarships. Eligibility requirements vary widely among colleges. At most competitive schools, an application must be submitted to the Financial Aid Department at the college before being considered for a grant. Grades and GPAs must be reported at the time of application. At most competitive colleges, merit-based scholarships require that applicants be financially eligible while also fulfilling a number of other criteria. These requirements vary among different programs, so applicants should always check with each individual college’s financial aid office in order to see if their specific grant will be acceptable.
Some people are concerned about applying for a scholarship based on merit-based criteria, because they believe that these scholarships only offer a free ride. In reality, merit-based scholarships for college are not “free” in the sense that they require that you pay nothing in order to qualify. The tuition and other college expenses you pay actually support the scholarship. In addition, a good portion of these awards are based upon the student’s performance in high school, so the student must show strong academic skills and extracurricular activities that will support his/her success. This is why it is necessary to read all award descriptions carefully before sending out your application.
There are many reasons to apply for one of the many merit-based scholarships for college students. Students who are academically talented, or who demonstrate strong leadership skills, may be able to qualify for one of these programs that do not have to be paid for. It is important to do your research, and visit websites of the schools you are applying to find out more information about what they offer. This information will help you to make the best decision possible regarding which of these scholarships is right for you.

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