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50-50 Highlights: 54 Public Colleges for Merit Aid

(The following has been updated for 2019.) Merit scholarships from colleges aren’t simply a way for schools to reward students for accomplishments, it’s part of the supply and demand of paying for college. Colleges use merit aid as a way to increase the supply of “accomplished” students at their schools. This is why the most competitive colleges … Read more

76 Best Bets for College Merit Aid

Are you serious about looking for an affordable education at a good college? Don’t think you’ll qualify for any significant financial aid? Then it’s time to begin looking beyond the rankings and paying attention to the data that tells you how much money schools are giving students. In this post, I’ll provide a list of … Read more

36 Best Bets for Test Optional Merit Aid

Think because you’re a miserable test taker, you don’t have a chance at merit aid? Maybe not. If you’re willing to step away from the limelight of prestige and top 50 college rankings, you can find some excellent opportunities among the growing number of test optional colleges. With just a little digging into the data, … Read more

FAQ: What is merit aid?

Merit aid refers to college awarded financial aid that is not based on financial need. The most commonly recognized form of merit aid is the scholarship. Scholarships may be awarded for academic skills or achievements based on talents such as athletic, artistic, or leadership. Other types of merit aid include tuition waivers or institutional grants … Read more

4 Easy Steps to Find Colleges with Merit Scholarships

(For those looking for merit scholarships from colleges, I’m updating this post. Because I’ve updated the spreadsheet several times since I wrote this post, some of the numbers in the text won’t match the results in the graphics. You can see a video demonstration at the end of the post.)   In this post, I’m … Read more

FAQ: Do I have to be accepted to a college to apply for financial aid?

No. You don’t have to be accepted to a college to apply for financial aid. You can submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Service Scholarship PROFILE (CSS PROFILE) any time after October 1 of your senior year. You do need to be admitted to a school actually receive financial aid.

You Can’t Get Merit Scholarships From a College You Never Apply To

In a previous post, I defined Expected Family Contribution (EFC), how it works theoretically, and what happens in the real world. For many families, the difference between theory and practice is irrelevant since their EFC is much higher than their actual ability to pay. There are steps that you can take to reduce your EFC, and … Read more