You’ve taken the SAT, you’ve submitted your college application. What’s next? Some students just stop right there. That may not exactly be the best idea. When you start receiving decision letters from the schools, the next question will appear in your head. “How do I pay for this?” The first thing students do when trying to find answers to this question is to start looking for scholarships and other aid that they can apply for to ease their financial burden of going to school. We’re here to help you gain a little more insight on the options you have available to you.
Understanding How You Did Compared to Everyone
First thing you need to do is find out how you compare to the rest of the nation that may be interested in applying for scholarships. We have a great article on how you stack up against others in your score bracket. Click here to read it. Once you have an understanding of where you stack up against others in your score bracket, head over to the multitude of scholarship databases available to you to find some that better suits you. I will link this at the end of this article.
National Merit Scholarship:
The National Merit Scholarship, in the short version, is a program where you are able to qualify for scholarships based on your PSAT scores. There are three requirements for you to qualify for this scholarship. You must take the PSAT in your high school career, you must be enrolled as a high school student, and you must be a U.S. citizen.
This scholarship is accessible to most students, as the data required is taken from students’ PSAT scores. The test is administered to nearly all 11th grade students. If your PSAT score lands you in a certain bracket of top scorers, you become a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist. Approximately 7,500 finalists are chosen to win the award each year.
Depending on your financial situation at home, you could be eligible to win a one-time $2,500 scholarship or a renewable four year scholarship.
One of the best features of the Merit Scholarship is that it requires virtually nothing from you beyond your test score! All you have to do is provide your transcript and take the SAT exam to back up your original PSAT score.
While the best-case scenario is to win, being a semifinalist is nothing to brush off. It’s a great accolade to include on your college applications, résumé, and other scholarship applications because it’s recognizable and reputable.
Institutional Scholarships are quite different from the National Merit Scholarship. Not everyone is able to qualify, and not all schools offer them. Depending on the school, you may be able to qualify for a scholarship based off of your SAT score. For these SAT-based scholarships, you don’t have to be involved in the Nation Merit program.
First thing all students should do is fill out the FAFSA. DO IT! DO IT! DO IT NOW! FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Not everyone gets money from FAFSA, but everyone is eligible to apply for it.
Typically Institutional Scholarships are automatically awarded to you when you are granted admission to the college. With no extra applications, interviews, or letters of recommendations. It really is just free money to attend a certain school.
Many outside scholarships specific to your community also factor in SAT scores to determine the recipient of their awards, so a higher score could easily lead to more scholarships from those sources as well. Look for outside scholarships using scholarship search websites, but also try reaching out to your school counselor, who may have even more resources or suggestions. Keep your ears open within your community too. Places of employment, churches, and community organizations where you do volunteer work can all be great places to find additional scholarship opportunities. This is when being involved in extracurricular activities can come in very handy. If your team/club is tied to an outside organization, ask your supervisors if they know of any scholarships you can apply for.