If you’re a family that won’t qualify for need-based aid, it’s time to start looking for 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.
We did a quick sort of our database of colleges and ranked them by the amount of merit aid they gave to freshmen who did not have any financial need (as determined by the college).
We have data on merit awards, based solely on searching publicly available Common Data Set files that colleges publish on their websites.
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 top colleges with merit awards, this is a good start.
It’s important to remember that just because a college offers a large average merit award, it doesn’t mean a lot of students receive them.
So you’ll need to also research how many students actually receive the award.
The percentage of freshmen who receive merit-based awards who do not have financial need varies greatly on the list – from a low of 1% to a high of 53%.
If you’re interested in researching and finding more colleges with generous merit scholarships, check out our College Data Spreadsheet, with extensive information on over 1500 colleges. You can use the spreadsheet to sort, filter, and compare colleges based on over 50 pieces of data.
Top 30 Colleges Ranked by Avg Merit Award
|Name||Avg merit award for Freshmen w/out need||% Freshmen w/out need Receiving Merit Aid|
|Washington and Lee University||$44,684||13%|
|University of Richmond||$33,299||19%|
|College of the Holy Cross||$30,908||3%|
|Wake Forest University||$30,453||3%|
|University of Notre Dame||$27,589||4%|
|Tulane University of Louisiana||$27,266||32.20%|
|Seattle Pacific University||$27,244||20.40%|
|Agnes Scott College||$26,447||18.80%|
|Case Western Reserve University||$24,854||29%|
|Southern Methodist University||$23,323||34.90%|
|Gustavus Adolphus College||$20,598||26.80%|
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