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Unlocking Opportunities: Colleges Offering the Most Merit Aid     

One of the biggest concerns for most college-bound students and their families when planning for college is the cost of attending. Fortunately, there are other options besides taking out student loans to help pay for a higher education. The two types of financial aid are need-based aid and merit aid. Need-based aid is awarded based on financial need, while merit aid is awarded based on a student’s academic achievements, their talents, and other major accomplishments. Merit aid awards help with making college accessible to a wider range of applicants and can open doors to more educational opportunities. 

What Exactly is Merit Aid? 

Merit aid, also known as merit-based scholarships or grants, is awarded to students based on their academic, athletic, and artistic talents, or other significant achievements of theirs, rather than being based on their financial need. Merit aid differs from need-based aid, which is determined by a family’s financial situation, while merit aid is awarded solely based on a student’s accomplishments and their potential. If a college offers merit aid, it is one of the best ways to pay for college without taking out loans specifically for students who will not qualify for need based financial aid

Merit aid packages can vary from institution to institution, as they are able to set their own requirements and standards for screening applicants. Eligibility for merit aid is usually based on things like a student’s GPA, their standardized testing scores, involvement with extracurricular or community activities, and their letters of recommendation. Some colleges will automatically consider all applicants for merit aid during their admissions process, while others may require a separate application or an essay to be eligible for their merit-based scholarships.

A Path to Educational Opportunity 

Merit aid plays a crucial role in making higher education more accessible to a broader range of students. With merit aid, the focus is on recognizing and rewarding excellence and other notable achievements. Merit aid serves as a powerful tool for attracting the best and brightest students. Students who show exceptional abilities in various fields have the chance to receive financial help to pursue their educational goals, regardless of their financial background.  

Finding Colleges that Offer the Most Merit Aid  

Aspiring college students should explore the wide range of merit aid opportunities offered by colleges and universities. Researching and applying for merit-based scholarships early in the college admissions process can increase the likelihood of receiving financial aid. Consulting with their high school guidance counselors, college financial aid offices, and using online scholarship databases are all fantastic ways to find available merit scholarships

Colleges and universities know the value of investing in talented individuals and are committed to providing them with the financial support they need to thrive academically. The list below is a sample from U.S. News & World Report showing schools with the highest percentage of students receiving merit-based aid: 

SCHOOL LOCATION PERCENT OF STUDENTS RECEIVING NON-NEED BASED AID 
   
Otis College of Art and Design Los Angeles, CA 95% 
Central State University Wilberforce, OH 87% 
Hope International University Fullerton, CA 77% 
Ashland University Ashland, OH 76% 
Webb Institute Glen Cove, NY 74% 
Loras College Dubuque, IA 69% 
Baker University Baldwin City, KS 60% 
Fairfield University Fairfield, CT 60% 
University of Detroit Mercy Detroit, MI 60% 
Utah Tech University Saint George, UT 59% 

Colleges that recognize and reward academic achievement, leadership, and other talents by offering merit scholarships allow for educational opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. As students navigate the college admissions process, they should also explore all private scholarships that are available to help reach their academic goals without excess student loan debt. 

Ask Westface College Planning for Help 

If you find that your family needs help with merit aid or your college funding plan, reach out and schedule a complimentary consultation with us today!  

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