College is expensive. But it can be much more affordable for students with a strong GPA and SAT or ACT scores to match. These students often qualify for "Merit-based scholarships."
Merit-based aid, sometimes referred to as "merit aid," is the general term for grants, scholarships and discounts that a college awards to an admitted student without regard to financial need. Merit aid may be based on academic or athletic achievements, special talents such as music, where the student lives or other demographic characteristics. Many colleges award merit-based scholarships to students primarily based on their academic profile (GPA + SAT or ACT score).
Here is one such example, Utah State University:
In the example above, a single extra point on the ACT could be the difference between earning an extra $26,000 in merit aid!
(Example: A non-resident student with a 3.8GPA/32ACT would be eligible for the Dean's scholarship ($26,000 over two years). However, with a one-point increase on the ACT to a 33, this same student would be eligible for the Presidential scholarship ($52,000 over four years).
F.C., a Saddleback Valley Christian student who recently prepared with us for the SAT, received offers from five different universities, ranging from $60,000 to $100,000. All of these awards were merit-based scholarships, due in part, to his excellent SAT score that placed him in the top 5% of the country.
- University of Dallas--$100,000
- Catholic University of America--$88,000
- University of Portland--$88,000
- Texas Christian University--$60,000
- Southern Methodist University--$60,000
Please note that every college handles merit-aid and merit-based scholarships a little bit differently, but it is safe to say that at the majority of colleges, there is a strong link between GPA/standardized test scores, and merit-based aid.