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“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.

Top 20 Colleges for Merit Aid With SAI Under $30,000

This crowdsourced data shows which colleges have offered the most merit aid to Road2College members so far with an SAI under $30,000. It is for the 2024-25 academic year, and much of it is repeatable in subsequent years.
CollegeMerit Aid Offers to Members
Under $30K SAI
# of OffersAvg Offer
Susquehanna University$508,50012$42,375
University of Arizona$418,50018$23,250
University of Scranton$404,00014$28,857
University of Alabama$394,98617$23,234
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute$392,50011$35,682
Rochester Institute of Technology$369,80014$26,414
Wheaton College$368,40010$36,840
University of Vermont$334,00018$18,556
Miami University-Oxford$330,00021$15,714
Ithaca College$328,30012$27,358
University of Dayton$327,15011$29,741
Quinnipiac University$325,24811$29,568
Stonehill College$324,0009$36,000
Hofstra University$301,5009$33,500
Xavier University$268,6829$29,854
University of Hartford$259,0009$28,778
DePaul University$252,00010$25,200
Seton Hall University$243,50011$22,136
Loyola University Chicago$242,0009$26,889
Stevens Institute of Technology$238,0009$26,444

Top 20 Colleges for Merit Aid With SAI From $30,000-$60,000

This crowdsourced data shows which colleges have offered the most merit aid to Road2College members so far with an SAI from $30,000 to $60,000 It is for the 2024-25 academic year, and much of it is repeatable in subsequent years.
CollegeMerit Aid Offers to Members
From $30K-60K SAI
# of OffersAvg Offer
Susquehanna University$649,00015$43,267
Fordham University$528,83519$27,833
Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute$522,00014$37,286
Loyola University Chicago$480,99919$25,316
Case Western Reserve University$460,00013$35,386
University of Arizona$446,00018$24,778
University of Alabama$443,52521$21,120
Loyola University Maryland$435,50013$33,500
Seton Hall University$434,50017$25,550
Miami University-Oxford$431,00022$19,591
University of Hartford$429,00014$30,643
Saint Joseph's University$422,00014$30,143
Drexel University$394,10013$30,315
University of South Carolina-Columbia$387,00623$16,826
Quinnipiac University$387,00013$29,769
Rochester Institute of Technology$386,50018$21,472
DePaul University$369,00016$24,600
University of Scranton$358,53412$29,878
Ursinus College$339,58010$33,958
Hofstra University$325,5008$40,688

Top 20 Colleges for Merit Aid With SAI Above $60,000

This crowdsourced data shows which colleges have offered the most merit aid to Road2College members so far with an SAI over $60,000. It is for the 2024-25 academic year, and much of it is repeatable in subsequent years.
CollegeMerit Aid Offers to Members
Above $60K SAI
# of OffersAvg Offer
Fordham University$1,138,03241$32,147
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute$1,085,05029$37,416
University of Vermont$959,50045$21,322
Rochester Institute of Technology$781,65032$24,427
Case Western Reserve University$772,50024$32,188
University of Alabama$765,82532$23,932
Drexel University$727,00031$23,462
Fairfield University$723,50030$24,117
Clark University$701,50024$29,229
Quinnipiac University$699,50024$29,146
Worcester Polytechnic Institute$686,50026$26,404
Wheaton College$681,00016$42,463
Loyola University Chicago$666,50023$28,978
Dickinson College$627,22015$41,815
Miami University-Oxford$602,00032$18,813
Seton Hall University$544,40020$27,220
Ithaca College$543,50019$28,605
Loyola University Maryland$542,50016$33,906
Hofstra University$530,50015$35,367
University of South Carolina-Columbia$501,52928$17,912

_______

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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