Scholarships and Merit Aid Offered by Colleges - COLLEGEdata - Pay Your Way
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Scholarships and Merit Aid Offered by Colleges

Almost all colleges offer scholarships and merit aid. Here's how you can get in line when colleges award their own money.

The first step toward getting scholarships and merit aid from a college is to apply to schools that really want you. Colleges may offer such aid as an incentive if they believe you would make a stand-out contribution as a student.

Finding Scholarships Offered by Your Colleges

The college is the best source of information about its own scholarships, which may be based on your merit, financial need, or both. Ask the financial aid office and the admissions office, and check the college's website for facts about the scholarships available. Look for the application process and eligibility criteria. Another resource is the academic department in your major. Sometimes these departments offer scholarships for students studying in certain fields.

Applying for Scholarships Offered by Your Colleges

To get in the running for a scholarship from a college, you may have to complete a formal application. But sometimes a college awards its scholarships based on information it already has about you, such as your academic qualifications and your financial need. Often an alumni or outside organization will fund a scholarship that the college administers on their behalf. These scholarships may have their own eligibility and application requirements. Contact the college to learn your scholarship options and how to qualify and apply.

Be sure to submit your aid applications: the FAFSA and, for private colleges, the PROFILE. Whether or not you think you have financial need, many college-based scholarships require these forms.

Getting "Merit Aid" from your Colleges

If your grades and other qualifications make you attractive to a college, it may offer you financial incentives to attend. Sometimes called merit aid, these incentives come in the form of grants, tuition reductions, and scholarships.

To find colleges that might give you merit aid, it pays to do some detective work. Some colleges don't even offer it. Some colleges are very generous with it. You can view a college's merit aid "track record" on CollegeData. Use College Match to search for colleges by the percent of merit aid offered. Or, look at the Money Matters page of any school's College Profile to see the average amounts of merit aid offered to students with and without financial need.

Improving Your Chances of Scholarships and Merit Aid

Your chances for a scholarship or merit aid will be better if your grades and test scores fall within the top 25 percent of the college's most recently admitted class. Your chances also increase if you are a valuable candidate in other ways, such as majoring in a field needing more students or possessing qualities that balance out the student body. If you are in contact with an admissions representative from the college, get a candid assessment of your merit aid chances. It won't hurt to ask!

What's Next?

Note: Financial information provided on this site is of a general nature and may not apply to your situation. Contact a financial or tax advisor before acting on such information.

For Students Age 18 and Older

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COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

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Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.