Great Schools, Great Scholarships (top merit scholarship awards)

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Great Schools, Great Scholarships (top merit scholarship awards)

Are you looking to attain the best possible education without breaking the bank? While a great education can be had at almost any school (depending on the student), it doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by similarly high-achieving peers and have great resources at your disposal. Below, find a list of merit scholarships at many of the country’s top schools. These schools all offer great scholarships that may require a separate application (sometimes not), but the extra work is worth it- many of these scholarships are full rides and then some!

Notes on this list: Many of these schools have strong need-based financial aid programs as well, although this list solely focuses on merit-based financial aid programs. As for the order of this, the schools are arranged alphabetically and, for now, the list only includes national universities (liberal arts colleges will be added later).

Finally, the reason schools such as the Ivies, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, etc. do not appear on this list is that they only award need-based aid. In other words, their financial aid programs are so exceptionally strong (due to high endowment) that merit scholarship programs are largely unneeded. Now, for the list…

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, AL)

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)
  • Link: The National Scholars Presidential Scholarship

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
  • Link: The Presidential Scholars Program

Brandeis College (Waltham, MA)

Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)

  • The Carnegie Scholarship is available to incoming freshman who qualify for little to no need-based financial aid
  • Link: The Carnegie Scholarship

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)
  • Link: Merit scholarships at Case Western Reserve

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)
  • For the 1693 Scholars Program, Virginia tuition, fees, room and board annually ($20,224 for 2011-2012) will be covered for in-state residents and Virginia tuition, fees, room and board annually ($20,224 for 2011-2012) for out-of-state residents. Additionally, scholars receive a $5,000 research stipend
  • Link: Merit scholarships at William & Mary

Denison University (Granville, OH)

Duke University (Durham, NC)

Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)

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)
  • Link: Scholarships at Georgia Tech, President’s Scholarship Program 

Grinnell College (Grinnell, IA)

Kenyon College (Gambier, OH)

  • Merit scholarships range from $15,000 per year to the full cost of tuition
  • Kenyon awards merit aid to about the top 15% of admitted students
  • Scholarships for students talented in art, creative writing, and music are also available
  • Link: Merit Scholarships at Kenyon College

Macalester College

  • Merit scholarships awarded to approximately 50% of U.S. first-year students
  • Macalester (unlike many top schools) also offers merit scholarships to International Students
  • Merit awards range from $2,000 to $64,000 over four years
  • Link: Merit scholarships at Macalester College

Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA)

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

New York University (New York, NY)

Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY)

Southern Methodist University

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

University of California- Berkeley

University of Illinois- Urbana-Champaign

University of Miami (Miami, Florida)

University of Michigan- Ann Arbor

University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill

University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)

University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

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
  • Link: The Jefferson Scholar Foundation

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 applicaiton (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
  • Link: Merit scholarships at Vanderbilt

Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC)

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Worcester, MA)

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

Other merit aid resources

If you’re still looking for merit aid, check out this list from U.S. News & World Report that looks at the percentage of freshmen receiving merit aid.

Note: Please contact us if you see any information that needs to be updated or you can recommend another merit scholarship that we’ve overlooked.  Thanks!

Photo of Georgetown University by Tony Brooks