Many colleges have started to award merit scholarships to students regardless of financial need, including some highly selective schools. These merit awards cover up to full tuition, room, board and associated fees, depending on the college and the award. In general, merit scholarships are most likely to be awarded to students who are unusually strong applicants at a particular school. Merit-based awards tend to be renewable for four years as long as the student does well at the college, but there are some one-time awards.
Some colleges have separate application forms and deadlines for students who want to apply for these merit awards. Some colleges automatically consider all applicants who apply by certain dates. Some colleges only consider students who are nominated before a certain deadline by their high school, and strictly limit the number of nominees from each high school.
Some colleges provide merit scholarships to a significant percentage of their entering class, while other colleges provide merit scholarships to only a handful of their most highly sought-after applicants. Generally, colleges in the Northeast seem to be less likely than colleges in other parts of the country to offer merit-based awards, although there are exceptions to that rule. Moderately selective colleges are more likely than highly selective colleges to offer a significant number of generous merit-based awards. Ivy League schools generally do not offer merit-based scholarships.
Frequently, a college will have more than one type of merit scholarship. For example, Davidson College provides some merit scholarships based largely on academic achievement, other scholarships for scholar-athletes, and a large number of other scholarships for students who are unusually talented musicians, excellent writers, etc. Brandeis University offers awards to top students as well as to talented musicians. Boston University has some merit-based awards for scholar-leaders, as well as awards that are provided to future engineering and other students.
The availability of college merit scholarships at each college changes, as do the amounts associated with particular merit-based scholarships. The best way to gather current information on these scholarships at present is to check a college's web site, and search for information on merit-based awards or scholarships. Typically, this information is provided either as part of the admissions web page or the financial aid web page. At some schools, information about their merit scholarships is not publicized. For that reason, it may be worth calling a college admissions office to ask about the availability of merit-based scholarships while the student is in 10th or 11th grade.
For information on merit scholarships that are designed to be of potential interest primarily for TJ students, see the TJ Career Center's College Merit Scholarships webpage. For information on scholarship awards that can be used at any college, see their General Scholarships web page.