Merit-based financial aid is one of the main financial aid packages awarded based on their merit or merit plus of students. Merit-based financial aids usually come from state or federal sources or private sources. These types of financial aid packages are intended to assists students to help their college expenses. Merit-based financial aid need not have to be repaid. The rules and regulations of financial aid packages are based on the federal financial aid rules.
Merit-based financial aids can be obtained based on your performance or talents in a variety of areas such as academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, athletic, leadership, volunteer work, or artistic talent (art, music, or theater). You can also obtain merit-based financial aid if you have any other personal qualities which distinguish you in the applicant pool.
Merit-based financial aid will not consider you or your family’s financial situation. Though most scholarships are a combination of financial need and merit, but still there are several scholarships which are purely based on merit. Recipients of these scholarships are selected without regard to income information. The amount of scholarship varies according to the state you reside and also in which scheme you are awarded by a scholarship.
Now let us check how to search for a merit-based financial aid. First of all you have to contact your State Department of Higher Education. Almost every state will have a scholarship program for its residents. But remember that these scholarship programs will mostly be limited to its students who join the college. That is, for example the scholarship program offered by the State of Alabama will be provided for qualified students of Alabama who decide to attend in Alabama state colleges and universities. Also, the student applying for a merit-based financial aid package need to be enrolled, or accepted for enrollment, or must be attending at least half-time in an approved postsecondary educational institution.
Also don’t forget to research institutional scholarships. Check the various types of scholarship programs offered by the colleges. You can check the college websites, catalogs, and financial aid offices to know the details of institutional scholarships offered by them. Institutional awards are usually offered within a particular college or on a university-wide basis. Hence check what types of institutional scholarships are offered by your college or the college you are going to join. After checking a list of scholarships that interest you, apply for the one with relevant documents which support your achievements.
To receive merit-based financial aids you need to fill up the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), no matter how many colleges you are considering. The FAFSA features a section for students to record the colleges to which you need your information to be sent. Remember to check with each college to verify if there are any additional forms required.