Best Major Universities for Merit Scholarships–Part Two

Note: This post has now been updated as of December 19, 2017–but merit scholarships are fewer than ever, and the awards are generally smaller, though many are still generous.

Many of the scholarships offered by the public and private institutions listed below are NOT restricted to National Merit Scholars. We include them to show “full ride” and other high-value options. If you find an error below, please notify editor@publicuniversityhonors.com.

The world of merit awards has been changing rapidly in the last decade. Many colleges that continue to provide generous merit scholarships and that used to require or prefer National Merit Finalist status for the most valuable scholarships no longer affiliate with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. The reasons vary. Often these awards now go to students who are National Merit Finalists but who can be selected for other reasons.

The colleges below in bold are those that still specify National Merit status for at least some of their major awards. These offer National Merit aid of $2,000 a year or more. Many of the universities not in bold do sponsor National Merit Scholarships of $2,000 a year or less. Although automatic scholarships specifically tied to National Merit status are in decline, National Merit Finalists will almost always be among the top candidates for merit awards.

Many colleges offer few or no merit awards of any kind now, because they believe that they need to allocate their funds only on the basis of financial need.

In a separate post, Best Major Universities for National Merit Scholarship Funding, we use the official annual reports of the National Merit Scholarship Corporation to list the universities that sponsor some form of NMS scholarships, even though the individual award amounts are frequently small.

Another post on this site lists the colleges that offer the prestigious Stamps Scholarships.

These range from tuition to full ride, and in some cases (e.g., Chicago), these are the only merit scholarships offered by the college.

And here is a list published by U.S. News that shows colleges with highest percentage of merit aid, based on enrollment. This map does not assess actual net remaining costs after merit aid, however.

In this post, we will provide a table that shows more than 115 universities, public and private, which provide full or partial tuition, tuition “plus”, or full ride, and full ride merit scholarships. In most cases, the tuition is at least at the in-state level. Tuition “plus” means that the extra award can include stipends or one or more years of housing. Full ride is tuition, room, board, and often additional funds for study abroad, conferences, and other activities.

The more prestigious the university, the more likely it is that the test score and GPA requirements will at least match stats for National Merit Finalists, even if the scholarship is not tied directly to National Merit awards. It is noteworthy that universities previously known for “full rides” have lowered the merit offerings, often to a level below that of a true full ride, especially for National Merit Scholars. Among these schools are Oklahoma, Alabama, and Texas A&M, although some form of scholarship “stacking” might yield a few more full rides than indicated by the list.

Note: Merit scholarships are constantly changing; the list below is at best a snapshot for 2017-2018.

It is important to know that some of the universities listed offer VERY FEW scholarships of the type listed. For example, the Jefferson Scholarships at the University of Virginia are valued at $150,000 (in-state) and $280,000 (OOS), but only 36 extremely fortunate students are selected from more than 2,000 candidates. These students must be nominated by participating high schools in different regions of the nation.

Again, colleges that continue to offer National Merit-specific scholarships that are greater than $2,000 per year are in bold.

University Award Type In State/OOS
Alabama 8 academic elite ~full ride Both
Appalachian St full ride Wilson Schols Both
Arizona full ride Both
Arizona State tuition plus Both
Arkansas full ride close Both
Auburn tuition plus Both
Baylor full ride Both
Boston College tuition Gabelli Schols Both
Boston University tuition 20 Trustee Schols Both
Case Western tuition Both
Centre full ride Brown schol Both
Chicago Stamps full ride very few Both
Cincinnati full ride In State
Clark full ride, few LEEP Both
Clemson full ride 8 National Schols Both
Colorado College 10k year Both
Connecticut Stamps full ride In State
Cooper Union half tuition Both
Davidson full ride Both
Delaware dupont schols ~full ride Both
Denison tuition Both
Drake 16-21k/year Both
Drexel tuition Both
Duke full ride, tuition, limited Both
Emory woodruff schols full ride Both
Fordham presidential tuition+room Both
Furman full ride Both
Georgia foundation fellows, full Both
Georgia State 22k/yr in st; 31k/yr OOS Both
Georgia Tech presidential full ride Both
Harvey Mudd tuitioin presidential schols Both
Holy Cross tuition, few Bptj
Houston Tier One, tuition + 2yrs rm/bd Both
Idaho full ride Both
Illinois Full ride/tuition In State
Indiana wells scholars ~full ride Both
Iowa 74k to 80k total Both
Iowa State full tuition In State
Kansas 10k year In State
Kent St tuition Both
Kentucky full ride Singletary Both
Kenyon tuition Both
Lehigh tuition Both
Louisville full ride Brown schol Both?
Loyala Chicago 17k-22k/yr Both
LSU 32k/yr in st; 49k/yr OOS full Both
Maine up to full ride Both
Maryland full ride Banneker Key Both
Massachusetts partial tuition Mostly OOS
Miami Univ tuition Both
Michigan St tuition and full ride Both
Michigan Tech 10-13k/yr Both
Minnesota 10k year Both
Minnesota Morris tuition Both
Mississippi full ride Both
Mississippi St full ride presidential Both
Nebraska tuition plus Both
Nevada Las Vegas full ride Both
Nevada Reno 16k/yr Both
New Hampshire 5k-10k Both
New Mexico 19 k Both
New Mexico St tuition plus Both
NJIT tuition plus Both
North Carolina full ride few Both
NC Charlotte Levine full ride Both
North Carolina St full ride few In Region
Northeastern tuition Univ Scholars Both
Notre Dame tuition few Both
Ohio St 50k to full ride Eminence Both
Ohio Univ 20k in st; 30 k OOS Both
Oklahoma St tuition plus Both
Oklahoma 117 k OOS Both
Oregon Stamps, few; In st 9k/yr Both
Oregon St 32k total Both
Pitt full ride Both
Purdue 12-16k OOS; 10k/yr in st Both
Rhodes 22k to full tuition Both
Rice 25-27k per year Both
Richmond 5k to full ride Both
Rochester 2k to full tuition Both
Rutgers 3.5k to 27.4k/year Both
Santa Clara up to full ride Johnson schols Both
SMU tuition presidential Both
South Carolina full ride, McNair; 10k/yr NMS Both
Southern Illinois full ride Both
Southern Miss full ride Both
Stevens Inst Tech tuition Neupauer Both
St. Louis Univ 3k to 20k/ year Both
Swarthmore tuition+ McCabe Schols Both
Syracuse Coronat tuition Plus Both
TCU tuition Chancellors Both
Texas A&M $46k total value Both
Texas St 10 k/year NMS Both
Texas Tech full ride Both
Trinity San Antonio tuition, Murchison Both
Truman St up to 10k/year Both
Tulane tuition plus Both
Tulsa full ride Both
UCF full ride Both
UCLA Stamps, few Both
Univ at Buffalo tuition, with some stacking Both
Univ of Miami 5k to full ride Both
Univ of North Texas 118k in state; 170k OOS Both
USC tuition plus Both
UT Arlington 20 k per year Both
UT Austin  14-15 full, 40 Acres Schols Mostly TX
UT Dallas full ride McDermott Both
UT Tyler full ride Both
Utah 35k total value Mostly UT
Va Commonwealth 98k total In State
Vanderbilt tuition plus, multiple Both
Vermont 62k in st; 15-18k/yr OOS Both
Villanova full ride presidential Both
Virginia full ride-33 Jefferson Schols Both
Wake Forest full ride Both
Washington St tuition plus Both
West Virginia 21k/yr OOS; full ride in Both
William and Mary in-state full ride equiv Both
Wofford full ride Both
WPI tuition Foisie Both
WUSTL tuition danforth, others Both
Wyoming up to 150% res tuition Both

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