Merit scholarship

Merit Scholarships in a Time of COVID-19

Families pay close attention to the merit aid provided by colleges–as they should! Scholarships offered directly by colleges make up the largest share of scholarship money available to students.

Most of the time, these scholarships are awarded based on GPA and ACT/SAT test scores. This year because seniors have had a hard time getting a test score, some colleges are revising their past plans.

One example comes from Miami University in Ohio. We like to call what Miami does a “grid” scholarship. Students are awarded automatic merit scholarships if they meet predefined qualifications and apply by the deadline. (See the new and old versions of this grid below.) You’ll note the new version does not include an ACT or SAT test score.

Miami University Fall 2021 Merit Scholarships

Weighted High School GPA (1)Ohio Resident Annual Value (2)Non-Resident Annual Value (2)
3.95+$13,000 to full tuition$21,000 to full tuition
3.75-3.94$7,000 to $12,000$16,000 to $20,000
3.60 – 3.74$4,000 to $6,000$11,000 to $15,000
3.50 – 3.59$1,000 to $3,000$5,000 to $10,000

(1) Miami recalculates each applicant’s GPA, adding weight based on coursework difficulty. If your school already weights your GPA, your recalculated and high school GPAs likely will be similar. If your school does not add weight and you have taken rigorous classes, your recalculated GPA likely will be higher than your high school GPA.
(2) Scholarships are renewable for up to four years, provided students meet renewability requirements.

Miami University Fall 2020 Merit Scholarship

Test Score (1)High School GPA (4.00 scale)Ohio Resident Scholarship Range (2)Non-Resident Scholarship Range (2)
ACT: 33+ SAT: 1450+3.50+Half to Full Tuition $32,000-$64,000 ($8,000-$16,000 Annually (3))Half to Full Tuition $80,000-$144,000 ($20,000-$36,000 Annually (3))
ACT: 30-32 SAT: 1360-14403.50+$20,000-$48,000 ($5,000-$12,000 Annually (3))$56,000-$80,000 ($14,000-$20,000 Annually (3))
ACT: 28-29 SAT: 1300-13503.50+$8,000-$32,000 ($2,000-$8,000 Annually (3))$36,000-$60,000 ($9,000-$15,000 Annually (3))
ACT: 26-27 SAT: 1230-12903.50+$4,000-$12,000 ($1,000-$3,000 Annually (3))$28,000-$40,000 ($7,000-$10,000 Annually (3))

(1) Miami accepts both the ACT and SAT and superscores either test, calculating a best composite score for admission and scholarship consideration by using the highest scores from individual test sections (subtests for ACT; Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing for SAT), even if they are from different dates.
(2) Scholarship ranges are based on estimated 2019-2020 tuition and fees.
(3) Scholarships are renewable for up to four years, provided students meet renewability requirements.

Some of you are grateful for this change. Others have a child with a high test score and are disappointed or frustrated.

Here are some things to remember:

  1. Good test scores will always strengthen an application.
  2. In the past, a majority of applicants to test optional colleges will still submit scores, although this year no one really knows what those numbers will be.
  3. Certain college majors and academic programs will still need a test score.
  4. Most importantly…look for those colleges that are looking for what your child can offer. Have an amazing test score? Then search out those colleges that are still offering more scholarship money for those scores–like Alabama, for example.

We wanted to also throw this out there. Although the merit scholarship grid from Miami no longer lists test scores as a requirement, we are hearing from financial aid and admissions offices that if a test score is provided, it can factor into the determination of the final merit scholarship amount. The level of scholarship can be impacted by GPA, test score, and course rigor. The chart above shows a range of scholarship amounts that are available.

FYI, for those still wondering about “test optional,” DePaul has a good FAQ page to serve their applicants. It’s a good read! Plus, you can read more in our test optional blog post.

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