Colleges that Give Merit-Based Scholarships

Last Updated on December 22, 2022 by

The following article discusses what you must know about top merit based scholarships & colleges with full ride scholarships. Read this article to find out what information you need. 

You will also discover related posts on liberal arts colleges with merit aid & colleges that give the most scholarships on collegelearners.

What is a College Merit Scholarship?

Merit-based scholarships are one of the best ways for high school students to pay for college. These scholarships award academic excellence and can rage from a few thousand dollars up to a full ride scholarship. As a bonus, many college merit scholarships are renewable, which means that you can receive the scholarship for all four years of college!

A college merit scholarship is a scholarship grant, that does not need to be paid back, awarded by a specific college or university. These scholarships are only applicable at the specific college or university and can’t be transferred to another school.

Generally, merit based scholarships will be awarded to students to demonstrate talent in a specific area including academics, the arts, leadership and more!

Top Merit-Based Scholarships

Which colleges offer the most generous merit scholarships? This is one of the most common questions that students ask because college-specific merit scholarships are among the best ways to pay for college (in addition to need-based financial aid of course).

Top 10 Colleges With The Largest Merit Scholarships

Name Avg Merit Award for Freshmen Without Need
Duke University $ 74,447
Washington and Lee University $45,742
Swarthmore College $43,252
Hollins University $35,233
Wesleyan University $35,118
Beloit College $34,507
Bard College $33,601
Albion College $32,013
Hartwick College $31,302
Clarkson University $30,928

Merit Scholarships at Private National Universities

Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA)

  • Offers a full-tuition merit scholarship (the Presidential Scholars Program) to 15 students
  • No separate application is required to be considered for the scholarship, although students must apply through the Early Action application process

Boston University (Boston, MA)

  • BU has generous scholarship opportunities including both need-based and merit-based scholarships.

Brandeis College (Waltham, MA)

  • Six separate programs available, five of which are for incoming freshmen (with one for rising juniors)

Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

  • The Carnegie Scholarship is available to incoming freshman who qualify for little to no need-based financial aid
merit-based scholarships colleges Archives - School Drillers

Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH)

  • Three separate merit programs offered: the CWRU Dean’s Scholarship, the Satcher-Pamies (merit scholarship for minorities), and the Alumni Scholarship (merit scholarship with a need component)

Duke University (Durham, NC)

  • Duke offers 9 merit programs which include full-tuition scholarships

Elon University (Elon, NC)

  • Elon offers merit- and need-based programs to students.

Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)

  • Check out the Georgetown Incentive Scholarships for need-based aid with a merit component.

Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA)

  • A number of merit scholarship programs are offered, including several specific to the arts (look under “Academic Merit Awards/Scholarships”)

New York University (New York, NY)

  • NYU offers a mix of merit and need-based programs for students

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)

  • The Rensselaer Medal Scholarship is a 4-year, minimum $15,000 per year merit scholarship

Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX)

  • SMU offers merit scholarships up to full tuition & room/board!
  • Other scholarships also include awards for students in specific majors (such as Engineering, the arts, and STEM)

University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

  • UChicago offers merit scholarships and scholarships specifically meant for first-generation college students.

University of Miami (Miami, Florida)

  • A number of full-tuition merit scholarships are offered, including the Isaac Bashevis Singer Scholarship and the Ronald A. Hammond Scholarship

University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)

  • The University of Rochester offers a wide variety of merit scholarships for all different types of students

University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

  • USC offers a number of full-tuition, half-tuition, and quarter-tuition merit scholarships
Scholarship & Grant Opportunities for College Students

Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)

  • Tulane offers some very generous full and partial tuition scholarships
  • All students are considered for partial tuition scholarships by simply submitting their application
  • There are 130 full tuition scholarships awarded that require a separate scholarship application (that is due on December 5th)
  • Link: Merit Scholarships at Tulane University

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

  • Full-tuition awards plus summer stipends for study abroad, research or service projects will be awarded to 250 students; other, smaller merit programs are also available

Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC)

  • WFU has a wide variety of merit programs available to incoming students, including general merit scholarships (such as the Reynolds Scholarships) and scholarships recognizing achievement in art, dance, debate, music and theatre (Presidential Scholarships for Distinguished Achievement)

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)

  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers merit scholarships to students ranging from $10,000 per year to $25,000 per year.

Merit Scholarships at Public Colleges & Universities

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)

  • Alabama offers a wide range of merit programs available to students both in-state and out

Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)

  • ASU offers a number of generous need- and merit-based scholarship programs for students.

Auburn University (Auburn, AL)

  • Offers the National Scholars Presidential Scholarship to National Merit Finalists and National Achievement Finalists
  • This program awards full-tuition scholarships to students both in-state and out-of-state, along with several other perks (including a $1,000 technology stipend)

College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA)

  • Merit programs include the 1693 Scholars Program and the Monroe Scholars Program ($3,000 research stipend, special housing option)

Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)

  • Several merit programs are offered, the largest and most prestigious of which is the President’s Scholarship
  • The President’s Scholarship is “offered annually to about 50 incredible high-school seniors who have demonstrated superb leadership skills, are among the top few in their class in academic performance, and show promise of continuing such performance” (quote from the below link)
Merit Scholarships | How Students are Selected & Money Award is Set

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

  • The University of Michigan offers mostly need-based, but several merit scholarships as well.

University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

  • Several full-tuition merit scholarships available to students both in-state and out-of-state.

University of California- Berkeley

  • UC-Berkeley offers scholarships based on both need and merit.

University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, Colorado)

  • UC-Boulder offers a variety of merit- and need-based scholarship programs to both in-state and out-of-state students.

University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)

  • For UVa’s Jefferson Scholars program, in-state scholars receive $26,000 each year, and out-of-state or international Jefferson Scholars will receive an annual stipend of over $53,000
  • This program creates a network of current scholars and alumni, along with providing a variety of structured enrichment opportunities to scholars

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