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7 Secrets (and Surprise Benefits) of Merit Scholarships

Uncategorized Dec 10, 2019

Secret #1 -- You don’t earn too much.

You don’t earn too much – or have too much – for your student to win merit scholarships.  Merit aid is awarded for achievement…not finances.  Even students from the wealthiest families can win big, renewable merit scholarships. 

So many families miss out on all the benefits of merit aid because they mistakenly believe that they must prove they need the money for college.  But it’s your student’s achievements, uniqueness, and efforts that qualify them for merit scholarships – not your family’s financial situation.

This secret is perhaps the biggest stumbling block that keeps well-deserving students from lots of money for college that doesn’t get paid back.  Families in all financial situations can enjoy the peace of mind knowing they are creating options for how much they pay for college. 

Secret #2 – Merit aid starts in elementary school

As crazy as it sounds, your student can begin winning money for college when they are in kindergarten with Google’s Doodles4Google scholarship.  Of course, more opportunities become available as they get closer to college, but there are private merit scholarships starting in elementary school and all the way through graduate school.

The secret here is that your family can get a jumpstart on the pursuing merit scholarships before most other families even think about how they’ll pay for college!  And, your student can be recognized for their efforts and uniqueness starting young so that their confidence can be building early on. Plus, when done right, the things your student does to deserve merit scholarships can be the same things they need to do to get into more colleges.

Secret #3 – Winning a merit scholarship builds confidence when students need it most.

Think of institutional merit aid as your secret weapon in the very competitive, stressful and often disappointing world of college admissions.  I recommend all my clients  apply to some colleges that are likely to offer their students big, renewable merit scholarships as an insurance policy, not only for college costs, but also for your student’s mental health, protecting their self-esteem in the event that they do not get admitted to their first-choice school.

Imagine how great it feels for students to know that a college wants them on campus so badly that they offer them money to attend their school.  Even families that are not concerned about the cost of college can give their students this priceless gift of winning money based on exactly who they are.

My youngest daughter, Kayla, felt so good about winning merit scholarships that it gave her the confidence to speak at her high school graduation.  I cannot convey how proud I was of her for taking the risk and overcoming her fear of public speaking…and surprising us.  That was even more valuable than the money.

Secret #4 – Winning big merit scholarships doesn’t have to take more time or effort.

Many colleges will use your student’s admissions application as their merit scholarship application.  This means that they don’t need to spend any more time or effort pursuing these scholarships. Your student will have already done the hard part when they studied in class, prepared for the SAT and/or ACT, and completed the admissions application.

This time-saving secret can be a game-changer! With so many different priorities competing for your student’s time and focus, it’s awesome when one activity (completing an admissions application) can lead to getting in AND saving on college!

Secret #5 – Students don’t need perfect SAT/ACT scores or grades to win merit scholarships.

Generally speaking, students who win large, renewable institutional merit scholarships from colleges score higher than 75% of the other students.  With a wide range of test scores required for admission, there is also a huge difference in the scores and grades required for winning institutional merit scholarships.

Of course, less competitive schools will usually offer merit scholarships to students with lower test scores and grades.

Plus, private merit scholarships are usually awarded for non-academic achievements such as community service and leadership, for example.  Test scores and grades are often not even considered.  Instead, your student can pursue private merit scholarships revolving around everything else besides SAT/ACT and grades.

This secret opens up a world of possibilities in terms of solutions to rising college costs.

Secret #6 – Merit scholarships can result in more money per hour than working. 

If you’re thinking that a $500 merit scholarship isn’t worth your student’s time, consider this:  It will take your child approximately 70 hours working a minimum wage job to earn the equivalent of a $500 scholarship.

And we’re not even talking about possible tax consequences of working.  Merit scholarships typically do not get taxed.

This secret shifts parents’ and students’ perspectives.

Secret #7 – College counselors need to be told if college costs matter to you.

Private and high school college counselor focus on admissions – not how (or if) you can pay for the schools they add to your student’s college list.  You’ll need to tell most counselors to recommend target, reach and safety colleges for cost, as well as for admissions.  I suggest insisting that your student applies to some schools that you can most easily afford so you end up with options for how much you pay for college. 

Depending on your student and your family’s goals, one of the easiest ways to lower the cost of college is to apply to colleges that will offer them big, renewable merit scholarships.

This secret may be the most important because it can save your family from unnecessary college debt and regret. 

Next step:

Which secret do you want to know more about?  Email [email protected] and we’ll shoot a video on it!


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