Merit Based Scholarships

Apply for these merit based scholarships for college. Students who are leaders, innovators, and top students can receive college grants and scholarships based on merit. Scholarships are available for high school students and college students. Explore some of these merit based college grants and scholarships listed below.

Most scholarships and grants are awarded based on merit, which can be academic, leadership, artistic or other talent. Check out some of these great opportunities to cash in on your talent!

Last updated on October 21 2016 by College Financial Aid Advice

Merit Based Scholarships for College

Merit based scholarships

AXA Achievers Merit Based Scholarships

Application Deadline open September 1 – December 1 (only first 12,000 applications will qualify) (note the community scholarship is open until February)

Award Amount $25,000 for 10 national winners, and $10,000 for 52 state winners

These merit based scholarships for high school seniors are for outstanding achievement in community service, school or work related projects. 2 or 4 year colleges qualify. For more information see AXA Scholarship.

Davidson Fellows Awards

Application Deadline Outside the box due in January, preliminary applications in February, and final applications in March of each year.

Award Amount multiple awards of $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarships each year

This is one of the best college scholarships for outstanding gifted and talented students under age 18, including high school students in all grades. Scholarship applicants must have completed a significant piece of work in one of the following categories: (1) philosophy (2) music (3) literature (4) science (5) mathematics (6) technology or (7) “outside the box. The scholarship money may be used up to 10 years after the award. For more information on these Davidson Fellows Awards merit based scholarships see

National Merit Scholarships

Application Deadline PSAT test in fall of junior year of high school

Award Amount $2500, plus eligible for other awards.

National Merit Scholarships are government scholarships provided by the federal government to the top 1% students in the United States, based upon their PSAT test scores. This is one of the premier merit based scholarships for high school juniors in the U.S. The application process starts by taking the PSAT test in the junior year of high school. For more information see National Merit Scholars Program.

Davis Putter Scholarships

Application Deadline March each year

Award Amount Varies, up to $8000 depending on need (20+ awards may be given each year)

Scholarship for student activists including undergraduate and graduate students. Applicants must be involved in struggles for important issues that impact society such as civil rights, economic justice (perhaps the 99% movement is one possibility), international solidarity and other issues that are progressive in nature Applicants must be living in the USA and plan to attend school here, but do not need to be US citizens. For online application for the Student Activist Scholarships see

Coca Cola Scholars Program

Application Deadline open August 1 – October 31

Award Amount up to $20,000

Coca Cola Foundation offers merit based scholarships for high school seniors attending a 4 year college, who have demonstrated leadership skills and a lifelong commitment to community leadership ad service. For more information see Coca Cola Scholarship.

Principals Leadership Awards

Application Deadline October - December each year

Award Amount 100 awards each year - $12,000 national winner, other semi-finalist award of $5,000 or more, and other awards of $1,000 each.

Open to high school seniors who are nominated by the principal of their high school. Nominees must also write an essay. Selection is based primarily on leadership, and student typically is in top 20% of graduating class. For more detailed Principals Leadership Awards scholarship requirements see

Moose Youth Awareness Program

Application Deadline October - November each year

Award Amount $12,000 first place, $8000 second place, $5000 third place, $3000 fourth place, and $2000 fifth place.

Open to high school students who deliver talks to younger children in their community in topics ranging from safety and health issues. School officials nominate students for local congress, where they can advance and win up to $12,000 in scholarships. These are merit based scholarships for college based upon leadership and academic strength. For more detailed Moose Lodge Leadership scholarship requirements and scholarship application see

Most Valuable Student Competition

Application Deadline December each year

Award Amount 500 4-year scholarships ranging from $1000 to $12,500 per year. Male and female applicants compete separately.

The Elks National Foundation offers a great scholarship program open to high school seniors who are US citizens. Applicants are judged on their academic achievement, leadership skills, and financial need. Applications are submitted to their local Elks Lodge. Outstanding candidates advance through local, district and state competitions. The top 20 finalists are invited for a leadership weekend in Chicago to compete for the top prizes. Additional scholarships for college may be awarded by the local Elks Lodge, who also offers other merit-based scholarships for children and grandchildren of Elks members. For the Elks Most Valuable Student Competition scholarship application and information see

ERCA Community Contribution Scholarship

Application Deadline July each year

Award Amount $1000 award for 25 scholarship recipients

This is one of the scholarships for high school seniors who have provided outstanding community service and who are going to attend college. Scholarship applicants must have recognized and solved a problem in their community. For more detailed ERCA Community Service scholarship requirements and scholarship application see

Milton Fisher Scholarship for Innovation and Creativity

Application Deadline April each year

Award Amount up to $5000 per year for 4 years

This scholarship is for students who demonstrate outstanding innovation and creativity. It is limited to high school juniors, seniors or recent graduates from Connecticut and New York City who plan to attend college in any state, or students from any state who will attend college in Connecticut or NYC. Scholarships requirements include solving problem in new or unusual way, or helping their community by providing a solution to a problem or creating a new group to address an important need. Financial need is not required, but does impact the amount of the award. For more Innovation and Creativity Scholarship information and application see

ESA Foundation General Scholarships

Application Deadline January each year

Award Amount multiple scholarships awarded at $1000

This is a great merit based scholarships program for well rounded students, based upon character, leadership, service, financial need and scholastic ability. Open to high school seniors, college students, technical schools and students enrolled in online learning.

Kohls Cares Scholarships Program for Community Service (formerly Kohl's Kids Who Care Scholarship Program)

Application Deadline March each year

Award Amount one scholarship $9,000 for national winners plus $1000 donation to charity of the recipient's choice (5 in each age group), $1,000 for regional winners (over 200 award winners)

Kohls department stores offers this scholarship for kids in two age groups: ages 6 – 12 and ages 13 – 18, based upon community service. Creativity, initiative, generosity, leadership and project impact are scholarship considerations. Must be nominated to be eligible. For more scholarship information see Kohls Scholarship

Spence Reese Scholarships

Application Deadline April 1

Award Amount $4000 award per year (1 for 4 students in each major listed below)

This is one of the scholarships for high school seniors males only, who are planning to attend college and study medicine, engineering, political science or law. Applicants may live anywhere in the US, but finalists must interview in San Diego, CA. Merit based scholarship with some financial need component. Offered through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego. For more detailed Spence Reese Scholarship requirements and scholarship application see

Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement (AP Exams)

Application Deadline none

Award Amount 100 state scholarships $2000 (1 male and 1 female from each state), and 2 national scholarships ($5000 for one male and female student), and teacher awards of $1000 - $5000.

These merit scholarships are based upon the top high school seniors with the most scores of "5" on 8 different AP exams: biology, calculus BC, chemistry, computer science A, environmental science, physics C mechanics, physics C electricity and magnetism, and statistics. Winners are notified by College Board, so no application is required.

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