This is that ominous, confusing, and enigmatic vicinity where the true lines of what is what are blurred. In layman’s terms, this part is a bit strange, because one would usually think of grants as something that has to do with income level, family situation, ethnicity, etc. (Things you probably cannot change about yourself).
That is one reason why these types of grants fall somewhere between widely available scholarships, and normal grant programs. Merit based grants can be accessed by how well you’ve done in school, what volunteering you’ve engaged in, and other mitigating factors. The interesting part is that there are many federal scholarships that do the exact same thing, so for all intents and purposes, we believe that the difference between a merit based grant and a federal scholarship have to do with what department it is based in, and where the funding is coming from. Of course, this is all just semantics, but it is important to know where to apply before you go into the specifics.
This is something you are always going to have with grants, and there really is no changing it. This is not necessarily a bad thing either, for the simple fact that you don’t want the US government doling out taxpayer dollars to rich kids who simply don’t need it. It is good that a majority of these grants are going towards lower income families.
That said, having a low income has always helped in this way. Now the age old adage about “not having enough money to pay for college because you come from the poor part of town” is completely and totally bunk. The simple fact is that the lower the income you have, the more chance there will be someone waiting to give you free money to go to school.
Even though merit based grants are largely comprised of technicalities and qualifications that have to do with your performance and community service, still the poorer you are, the more money you stand to squeeze out of the federal government.
This perhaps is what keeps this section of college funding classified as a “grant” and not a “federal scholarship”.
Of course, this is the kicker isn’t it. Merit based grants are going to be given to the applicant that has achieved much. This is one reason why it is always important to keep up your grades.
Now the interesting part about this particular type of grant is the fact that it is merit based, yet still relatively easily accessible. For instance, if one where to look at a similar type scholarship, the merit based grant would almost always have a higher average of accepted applicants as opposed to the scholarship. Scholarship programs are only looking to sponsor a select few.
So, if you feel as if you qualify for a merit based grant, then make sure you do so, as there is a very, very large chance that you will succeed in getting it.
How To Apply
How to apply to merit based grants is going to be just like apply for all the other grants. However, these tend to be in the minority and a little less abundant, so you may not be able to find it on the FAFSA website. Here are a few that might interest you, in order to give you a place to start.
- The Robert C. Byrd Honors Scholarship Program is a federally-funded and state-administered merit-based scholarship program in the United States. It is designed to recognize exceptionally able high school seniors who show promise of continued excellence in postsecondary education.
- National Science Scholars Program (NSSP) encourages students to continue their postsecondary studies in physical, life, and computer sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Student are therefore eligible to receive renewal awards only if they combine their studies in these fields.
- The LEAP Program provides grants to states to assist them in providing need-based grants and community service work-study assistance to eligible postsecondary students. States must administer the program under a single state agency and meet maintenance-of-effort criteria.