50-50 Highlights: 99 Overlooked Colleges for National Merit Scholarships

50-50 Highlights: 99 Overlooked Colleges for National Merit Scholarships

student with money from colleges for national merit scholars(Updated 2021) The National Merit Scholarship Program seems like a great opportunity for test savvy high school students and their families to make a substantial dent in college costs. Well, it really all depends. Much to the surprise of many families, being a National Merit Finalist doesn’t mean a full-ride scholarship to the college of your choice.

Different Types of National Merit Scholarships

There are three types of National Merit Scholarships. There is the one-time $2,500 awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to approximately 7,600 scholars. Corporations sponsor another 1,000 scholarships, mainly for children of employees but also for students living in certain areas or pursuing specific majors. These may or may not be renewable and range in value from $500 to $10,000.

The third type of scholarship is generally the most valuable–those sponsored by colleges. These scholarships may be only one time awards of only $2,500. However, many of them are renewable awards for much more and the most valuable offer the coveted “free ride.” (Looking for free ride scholarships, try here. I get a share of any purchases.)

Most Colleges Don’t Provide National Merit Scholarships

The problem is that these schools are generally not the same schools everyone wants to attend. In fact, very few of the most competitive colleges and universities sponsor National Merit Scholarships. That doesn’t mean these schools don’t have National Merit Scholars. In 2019, Stanford enrolled 124, Harvard 207, and MIT 134. None of these students received National Merit Scholarships to attend these schools. These schools just don’t have to offer money as an incentive to attend.

And for those competitive colleges that do such as the University of Chicago, Carleton College, and Vanderbilt University, the amounts tend to be small relative to the actual cost of attendance.

Colleges with Incentives to Provide National Merit Scholarships

If you want to get the most out of being a National Merit Scholar, target a 50-50 school. These are schools that accept at least 50% of students and have at least a 50% graduation rate. Out of over 160 schools sponsoring National Merit Scholarships, 99 of them are 50-50 schools.

This isn’t surprising since many of these colleges are interested in developing a national reputation. Colleges haven’t been shy about publicizing the number of National Merit Scholars attending their institutions. They are also more likely to provide scholarships that significantly reduce tuition costs while being renewable. Some colleges include yearly stipends or funds for study abroad programs.

The University of Oklahoma waives 100% of tuition for out-of-state National Merit Scholars for five years. Students can also use the waiver toward any graduate or professional program if any funds remain after completing their undergraduate degrees.

If you’re willing to attend a less prestigious college, being a National Merit Scholar could result in an actual “free ride” to college.

The table below lists 50-50 colleges for National Merit Scholars. All expect to sponsor National Merit Scholarships this past year.

 

50-50 Colleges for National Merit Scholars

Name Type State  Full-time Under-graduate  % Freshman Receiving Institutional Grants (18-19) Avg Net Price 2018-2019
Auburn University Public AL                 22,626 61 $23,562
Samford University Private AL                   3,519 99 $30,695
The University of Alabama Public AL                 29,188 56 $20,623
University of Alabama at Birmingham Public AL                 10,377 78 $17,068
Arizona State University-Tempe Public AZ                 41,349 94 $14,081
University of Arizona Public AZ                 28,993 87 $16,580
Hendrix College Private AR                   1,098 100 $20,859
Ouachita Baptist University Private AR                   1,502 98 $19,962
University of Arkansas Public AR                 20,492 39 $16,263
Santa Clara University Private CA                   5,580 63 $42,114
Colorado State University-Fort Collins Public CO                 22,179 56 $16,793
New College of Florida Public FL                       702 99 $11,028
University of Idaho Public ID                   6,762 90 $15,017
Bradley University Private IL                   4,497 100 $26,791
Illinois Wesleyan University Private IL                   1,613 99 $28,912
Loyola University Chicago Private IL                 11,628 98 $36,388
Wheaton College Private IL                   2,323 87 $28,795
Butler University Private IN                   4,498 93 $39,923
DePauw University Private IN                   1,952 99 $29,557
Goshen College Private IN                       752 100 $19,772
Indiana University-Bloomington Public IN                 32,091 71 $13,036
Purdue University-Main Campus Public IN                 32,520 43 $12,684
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Private IN                   1,980 99 $45,356
University of Evansville Private IN                   1,827 100 $21,978
Valparaiso University Private IN                   2,932 99 $21,824
Drake University Private IA                   2,836 100 $30,265
Iowa State University Public IA                 26,596 79 $15,195
Luther College Private IA                   1,931 100 $23,805
University of Iowa Public IA                 21,134 57 $17,008
Kansas State University Public KS                 15,489 77 $18,103
University of Kansas Public KS                 17,307 73 $19,195
Centre College Private KY                   1,411 100 $24,226
University of Kentucky Public KY                 20,679 77 $18,958
University of Louisville Public KY                 11,578 80 $17,490
Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Public LA                 22,727 75 $18,143
Louisiana Tech University Public LA                   8,128 81 $12,261
University of Maine Public ME                   8,016 99 $18,002
Gordon College Private MA                   1,447 96 $29,047
Calvin College Private MI                   3,224 100 $27,952
Hope College Private MI                   2,903 95 $29,248
Kalamazoo College Private MI                   1,273 98 $26,480
Michigan State University Public MI                 35,650 48 $16,579
Michigan Technological University Public MI                   5,405 93 $17,814
Bethel University Private MN                   2,323 100 $26,468
Gustavus Adolphus College Private MN                   2,215 99 $21,707
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Public MN                 29,890 59 $17,279
University of St Thomas Private MN                   6,164 95 $29,645
Mississippi State University Public MS                 17,101 86 $16,471
University of Mississippi Public MS                 15,950 63 $14,672
Missouri University of Science and Technology Public MO                   5,680 81 $13,954
Saint Louis University Private MO                   6,666 97 $31,098
Truman State University Public MO                   4,248 99 $12,912
University of Missouri-Columbia Public MO                 20,782 77 $15,850
Montana State University Public MT                 12,398 71 $16,746
Creighton University Private NE                   4,338 99 $32,145
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Public NE                 19,045 82 $17,093
University of Nevada-Reno Public NV                 14,702 50 $16,253
Rutgers University-New Brunswick Public NJ                 34,350 40 $16,873
Ithaca College Private NY                   5,735 95 $34,942
North Dakota State University-Main Campus Public ND                   9,640 44 $16,330
University of North Dakota Public ND                   7,622 66 $15,654
Miami University-Oxford Public OH                 16,729 70 $22,989
Ohio University-Main Campus Public OH                 16,162 81 $22,521
The College of Wooster Private OH                   1,942 99 $28,209
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Public OH                 23,836 56 $19,219
University of Dayton Private OH                   8,059 95 $33,372
Oklahoma State University Public OK                 17,235 80 $15,325
University of Oklahoma Public OK                 18,938 86 $21,804
Lewis & Clark College Private OR                   1,896 94 $36,026
Oregon State University Public OR                 18,635 72 $19,273
University of Oregon Public OR                 17,377 59 $16,080
Willamette University Private OR                   1,559 100 $36,223
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus Public PA                 66,206 43 $24,724
University of Pittsburgh Public PA                 18,474 47 $22,600
Clemson University Public SC                 19,387 75 $21,482
College of Charleston Public SC                   8,736 55 $19,764
Furman Private SC                   2,607 91 $35,621
University of South Carolina-Columbia Public SC                 26,402 68 $21,787
Wofford College Private SC                   1,703 95 $28,033
Belmont University Private TN                   6,547 88 $36,976
Tennessee Technological University Public TN                   7,972 48 $16,634
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Public TN                 22,126 54 $21,024
Southwestern University Private TX                   1,496 100 $27,757
Texas A & M University Public TX                 47,874 55 $19,237
Texas Tech University Public TX                 27,949 52 $16,463
The University of Texas at Dallas Public TX                 17,847 67 $10,455
University of Houston Public TX                 28,176 60 $13,212
University of North Texas Public TX                 26,049 50 $14,020
University of Utah Public UT                 18,609 70 $13,739
Virginia Commonwealth University Public VA                 19,868 60 $20,968
University of Puget Sound Private WA                   2,276 99 $39,011
Washington State University Public WA                 23,195 74 $18,002
Western Washington University Public WA                 13,868 71 $17,728
Whitman College Private WA                   1,532 86 $41,822
West Virginia University Public WV                 19,399 76 $12,743
Lawrence University Private WI                   1,399 100 $26,162
Marquette University Private WI                   8,174 100 $34,120
University of Wisconsin-Madison Public WI                 30,131 34 $16,103
University of Wyoming Public WY                   8,336 72 $12,880



50-50 Highlights: 99 Overlooked Colleges for National Merit Scholarships

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