“What Exactly Is ‘Good Merit’ and How Do I Keep It Once I’ve Got It?”

Young woman excitedly reading a scholarship offer

“What Exactly Is ‘Good Merit’ and How Do I Keep It Once I’ve Got It?”

Published January 17, 2024

Young woman excitedly reading a scholarship offer

Everybody wants to be awarded merit scholarships — and not just any ol’ merit scholarship, they want a ‘good’ one. But what, exactly, does that mean, and how do you search for one if you’re not sure?

Recently the parent of a college senior and a college sophomore in our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group, Sheila Jones, shared this great advice about merit scholarships, and we think it’s worth sharing.

“Often you will hear people say their child received a ‘good’ merit scholarship, and many families regularly say that they need a school that offers ‘good’ merit, but what exactly does that mean?

Here are two things to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure you define what ‘good’ merit means to you and your family as you start your college search.
  2. Once your child receives a merit scholarship offer, make sure you have a clear understanding of what is required for your student to keep that merit scholarship each semester or year BEFORE accepting. 

Let’s define what constitutes a ‘good’ merit scholarship:

Let’s say the Cost of Attendance (COA) at a school is $75,000 per year (including tuition, fees, room and board, and meals) and your student gets $30,000 per year in merit. This means your family will owe $45,000. Is that $45,000 doable for your family? If so, then that $30,000 per year scholarship is ‘good’ merit for your family.

Now let’s say the COA at another school is $30,000 per year and your student gets $10,000 per year in merit. Your out-of-pocket expense will be $20,000 a year. Is that $20,000 per year doable for your family? If so, then that $10,000 is good merit!

Once you’ve defined ‘good’ merit for your family, it’s time to consider what may be required to maintain a merit scholarship — because merit scholarships come with strings attached. Here are some examples.

  1. Many schools will require students to maintain a certain GPA to keep merit scholarships. That can range from as low as a 2.0 GPA to as high as a 3.75 GPA, or higher,Find out how your student’s GPA compares to the required level and if it’s lower than they’d like it to be or toeing the line, find out how much time they have to raise their GPA before losing the scholarship.
  2. Some schools may require students to stay on campus all four years to maintain a scholarship, but many eventually want to move off campus
  3. Some merit scholarships apply only to specific majors, so it’s important to consider how committed your student is to said major before accepting a scholarship.
  4. Some schools require students to perform a certain number of hours of community service or be in attendance at different events throughout the year to maintain their scholarships.

These are just a few of the rules and restrictions of some merit scholarships. Each school and each individual scholarship will have its own set of criteria. All of that is key to know as you go searching — and eventually, accepting — merit scholarships.” — Sheila Jones, Paying for College 101 Facebook Group member

Get more tips about merit scholarships and so much more from parents just like you by joining our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group — it’s free and takes just seconds to join.

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Use R2C Insights 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:

“We Went From $0 to $24,000 in Merit Aid Just for Asking”

How to Play the College Waiting Game to Maximize Merit

Merit Scholarship Guide: Factors, Tips, Full List and Search Tool

JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS & CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS: 

PAYING FOR COLLEGE 101

HOW TO FIND MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS

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