If you’re a family that won’t qualify for need-based aid, it’s time to start looking for merit scholarships.
What Are Merit Scholarships?
Merit-based aid is money colleges award that is not based on any financial need.
These scholarships are usually awarded based on academic performance and sometimes based on special talents in athletics, sports, the arts, etc.
If a school determines your family does not have a financial need (even though you may not agree), your student can still be awarded merit aid.
Not all colleges award merit aid, so it’s important to know which schools do award merit-based scholarships to a large percentage of their freshmen class.
Using Data to Find Merit Scholarships
We did a sort of our database of colleges and ranked them by the percent of students, without financial need, who received merit-based scholarships.
Our data is based on the latest IPEDs data and publicly available Common Data Set
files that colleges publish on their websites.
Data on merit scholarships primarily comes from information in a college’s Common Data Set.
Unfortunately, not all colleges make this information public, so our college list may not be completely inclusive of all the appropriate schools.
But for the purpose of giving a glimpse into the colleges that award merit scholarships to the greatest percentage of students, this is a good start.
In addition to looking at what percent of students without need receive merit aid, average size of merit aid, and total price is also included.
It’s important to remember that just because a college offers merit aid to a large percentage of freshmen, doesn’t mean the amount they offer is significant enough compared to the total cost of the college.
In addition, it’s important to consider graduation rates. Most schools only offer merit aid for four years, so graduating in five years or longer can add significant expense.
|Name||State||% Freshmen W/out Need |
Receiving Merit Aid
|Avg Merit Award||Cost of Attendance
|Washington & Jefferson College||PA||100||$34,857||$45,515
|The College of Wooster||OH||98||$33,902||$73,550
|Lebannon Valley College||PA||98||$32,257||$60,460
|St. Catherine University||MN||96||$32,101||$58,764
|Agnes Scott College||GA||100||$31,127||$61,195
|Ohio Wesleyan University||OH||99||$30,854||$69,443
Data is from the 2022-2023 Common Data Sets. Percentages that are over 100% may come from mistakes in information that is self-reported by colleges.
Looking for Generous Colleges for YOUR Student?
We have shared the top 20 colleges offering the most generous merit aid. However, there are over 340 colleges and universities offering 95% or more of their students without financial need merit aid. If you’re looking for colleges that will be generous to YOUR student, we recommend you check out our R2C Insights tool
and sign up for a free account.
It will provide you with a list of schools that will be most generous with their money based on your child’s stats and preferences.
All the information is in one place, so you don’t have to hop from college website to college website in order to find what you’re looking for.
Use our R2C Insights Tool to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.
Other Articles You Might Like:
How My Daughter Got $53,000 a Year in Merit and Financial Aid Plus More in Private Scholarships
Our Full Tuition Scholarship Journey
A Family’s Journey to Find an Affordable College
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