One of the biggest misunderstandings when it comes to merit-based scholarships is the idea that they’re only for top students, like those scoring a 31 or 32 on the ACT. But that’s just not the case. Many colleges offer great merit scholarships for lower scores too. But which colleges offer the best merit scholarships? 

This helpful resource lists information from over 27 public colleges on scholarships awarded based on GPA and/or test scores. That means there are opportunities for every student to work hard, challenge themselves, and avoid paying full price for college.

Whether you have a good ACT or SAT score or you’re on your way, there are great colleges that offer amazing merit scholarships to students who have shown their hard work through their GPA and ACT or SAT scores. 

Let’s get started. 

Western Schools

Western Oregon University

Presidential Scholarship: $5,500
This scholarship requires a general scholarship application. The minimum GPA requirement for the full scholarship is 3.8.
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Montana State, Billings

The Chancellor’s Excellence Award: $4,000
Scholarship applicants must have a composite score of 26 or greater on the ACT or a score of 1240 or greater on the SAT. Applicants must also rank in the top 10% of their high school graduation class or have a cumulative high school grade point average of at least 3.5.
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Idaho State University 

Presidential Scholarship: $1,000 – 7,872
Different values for this scholarship are available to incoming freshmen who are Idaho residents with GPAs of 3.0 or higher. No separate application is required, and the scholarship is renewable for four years.
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University of Nevada, Reno 

Presidential Scholarship: $8,000
This scholarship is awarded based on outstanding academic performance. The minimum grade point average for consideration is a 3.5, and the scholarship is renewable for four years.
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University of Wyoming

Cowboy Commitment: Up to $6,500
The University of Wyoming has multiple merit-based scholarships; their Cowboy Commitment grid shows scholarship amounts based on GPA and test scores.
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Southern Utah University

President’s Scholarship: $6,006
Southern Utah University offers multiple merit-based scholarships based on GPA and/or test scores.
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Colorado Mesa

Distinguished Scholar: Full tuition ($6,000 for out-of-state students)
Merit Scholarships are available for all new freshmen that meet two of the three criteria listed for each award, including class rank, GPA, and test scores.
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Southwest Schools

Western New Mexico University

Gold Scholarship Package: Full tuition and $2,000 per year
This scholarship is available for new freshmen who are New Mexico residents. Minimum qualifications include a 3.75 GPA and a 21 ACT.
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Northwest Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma Academic Scholars Award
This scholarship covers 16 credit hours per semester and an additional $2,000 stipend each year. This scholarship requires a 3.8 GPA, 30 ACT Composite on a National Test, and being in the top 4 percent or rank first or second in graduating class.
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Northeastern State University (OK)

Freshmen Honors and Leadership Scholarship
Northeastern State offers multiple merit-based scholarships with minimums at a 3.25 GPA and a 20 ACT score.
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University of North Texas

Excellence Scholarships
The UNT Excellence Scholarships are awarded based on high school achievement and range from $1,000 per year to $12,000.
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Texas A&M-Texarkana

Presidential Scholarship
Texarkana offers multiple merit scholarships, including the presidential scholarship for incoming freshmen. This scholarship covers tuition and requires a minimum 26 ACT score and a 3.65 GPA.
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University of Texas, Arlington

Presidential Honors Scholars & Presidential Scholars
Scholarships are awarded based on a combination of GPA, class rank, and/or test scores. They range from $10,000 per year to $12,000 per year.
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Midwest Schools

Chadron State College

Presidential Academic Scholarships
With a variety of merit-based scholarships, students at Chadron State in Nebraska can earn anything from a $1,000-year tuition waiver to a full-tuition waiver.
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Wayne State College

Presidential Scholarship
This full-tuition scholarship requires at least a 30 ACT score. Wayne State in Nebraska also offers a database of over 200 scholarships that students can apply for with one application.
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University of Iowa

Iowa Flagship Award
The University of Iowa offers multiple merit scholarships, but the Iowa Flagship Award is $8,000 each year, awarded based on GPA and test scores.
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Northwest Missouri State

Admission-Based Freshmen Scholarships
Northwest Missouri State has generous scholarships for both residents and non-residents, including their President’s Scholarship, the Bearcat Advantage, and Green & White.
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Southeast Missouri State

Copper Dome and President’s Scholarships
Something interesting about Southeast Missouri State’s Copper Dome scholarships is that they actually increase each year if you meet the renewal requirements. This school offers great financial incentives to attend.
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Northeastern Illinois University

Presidential Scholarship
This is the most prestigious scholarship at Northeastern Illinois, covering full in-state tuition, fees, and a book allowance for four academic years.
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Ferris State University

Freshman Academic Scholarships
These scholarships are based on academic performance in high school and range from $1,500 to $10,000 per year.
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Eastern Schools

University of Central Arkansas 

Freshmen Academic Scholarships
UCA offers multiple scholarships based on GPA and superscored test scores. These awards provide stipends for both tuition and housing.
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University of Louisiana – Monroe

Freshman Scholarships
These scholarships are given based on different combinations of test scores and GPA, ranging from $6,788 a year to $14,588.
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Eastern Kentucky University

Merit Scholarships
Eastern Kentucky offers merit scholarships based on GPA and test scores, rewarding up to full tuition.
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University of Memphis

Academic Merit Scholarships
The University of Memphis offers merit scholarships for both residents and non-residents based on GPA and test scores.
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University of Southern Mississippi

Academic Excellence and Honors College Scholarships
Southern Miss offers academic scholarships based on GPA and test scores with some competitive scholarships that pay full tuition.
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University of Alabama

Competitive and Automatic Merit Scholarships
Students looking to attend University of Alabama have a few options when it comes to merit-based scholarship, all based on either GPA or GPA + test scores.
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University of Rhode Island

Presidential and University Scholarships
These scholarships are awarded to students based on high school academic performance and range from $1,500 to $15,000 annually.
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This list only scratches the surface of the many schools that are willing to give you scholarships for your hard work in high school. It shows that test prep really can be one of the best-paying jobs a high school student can have! That’s why it’s important to work hard for good grades and invest in test prep to improve your ACT or SAT score. 

If you have any questions or want help navigating the waters of college admissions counseling, OnToCollege can help. Click to learn more