While merit-based aid or scholarships sounds self-explanatory, there are general types or forms of merit aid that exist as scholarships for students to try and obtain.
Colleges and universities award these scholarships to graduating high school students to attract highly qualified students to attend their school. Religious, ethnic, cultural, or community organizations award these to show support to talented individuals within their organization. While the federal government does not provide merit scholarships, these are also provided by state or local governments to eligible students. Private organizations and foundations also award merit scholarships to eligible students.
Academic merit scholarships are one of the most common types of scholarships that exist in relation to getting merit aid. Aside from athletic scholarships, they are the ones that first come to mind when we talk about merit.
These are awarded to school students who achieve academic success or maintain excellent grades. These are usually students who have displayed academic excellence whether by getting a high grade point average, being a straight-A student, by getting high standardized test scores such as in the SAT or ACT, or remarkable course loads (such as AP Scholars With Distinction for students in college). Once the college students are enrolled, they are usually required to maintain a level of academic excellence to remain eligible for the scholarship if it is renewable.
One other famous form of merit scholarships are athletic scholarships. These are given to students who have displayed athletic excellence or great athletic ability in a certain sport. Usually, the colleges themselves offer these scholarships to the prospective student athletes so they can play for these schools at the college level and must participate in relevant college athletics to maintain eligibility for the scholarship. Outside of the school itself, individuals can reach out to their coaches or local organizations for athletic scholarship opportunities.
Arts scholarships are merit aid given to students who display exceptional gifts or talents in any of the arts, such as in music, visual art, photography, film, sculpture, dance, painting, writing, or some other art form. These usually require a portfolio from the student pursuing this scholarship.
4. Other Merit-Based Scholarships
There are a lot of other forms of merit scholarships available for eligible students.
One of these is the community service scholarship given to students who are very active in community service involvement such as through extraordinary volunteer efforts. Related to this are leadership scholarships given to students who take on community roles and display leadership potential or leadership skills.
Another form of merit scholarship is given though extracurricular involvement or by joining and being active in notable extracurricular activities.
Some groups related to the intended college major such as medicine, engineering, natural sciences and more may also give merit-based aid to pay for the cost of college for eligible students. This may also be possible with some special interests such as certain remarkable hobbies, where invested groups or organizations may provide merit-based aid.
There are a lot of other forms of merit-based scholarships which are available as long as the student is eligible for them, but these are the generally more common types that exist.