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For many high school students, the SAT is a high stakes standardized test that could make or break your college admissions chances. While this is certainly the case, it’s not the only reason you might want to score as highly as possible on your SATs. What many students don’t realize is how SATs can also earn valuable scholarships to help pay for college tuition and fees.


Interested in learning how your SAT scores can translate into money towards college? In this post, we’ll outline how your SAT scores can help to earn you college scholarships amounting to thousands of dollars. If you’re interested in earning money for your hard-fought SAT scores, keep reading.


National Merit Scholarships

The first and most commonly considered scholarship program related to standardized tests is the National Merit Scholarship Program. This program is actually linked to your PSAT, which is taken during the first semester of your junior year. The National Merit competition recognizes top scorers by state and awards up to $2500 to top performers. But this isn’t the only way that you can earn a scholarship through the National Merit program.


Many individual schools also team up with National Merit to sponsor scholarships. These have a wide range in value, beginning at just a couple hundred dollars and extending all the way to full rides. Usually, in order to be eligible for one, you’ll need to fill out the college interest forms offered along with your PSAT (which are entirely optional) and check off the school whose scholarship you are interested in as your top choice.


Generally, public universities offer more funding through this program than private schools do, but you’ll need to research each school you’re interested in to get their specific details. As an example, at both the University of Idaho and the University of Oklahoma, your performance in the National Merit competition can earn you a full ride scholarship. The same is true at Baylor University, a private school, but this is an exception. At Loyola, another private school, National Merit awards top off at $2000.


To learn more about the National Merit Program sponsoring universities, see the National Merit Sponsorship page.


To learn more about the PSAT and National Merit Program, see these CollegeVine posts:


How to Qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program

What Is National Merit?

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SAT-Based Scholarships at Specific Schools

Another way to win a scholarship for your SAT scores is through specific colleges. Many colleges award scholarships for SAT scores that meet a certain threshold, and many others use SAT scores along with other factors such as class rank and GPA to determine scholarship recipients.


It would be impossible to provide a comprehensive list of all the colleges that offer SAT-based scholarships, but here are some:


At Colorado State University, scholarships are awarded based on GPA and SAT scores. For non-residents, these range from $1000 for a GPA of 3.6 and an SAT score above 1310, to $4000 for a GPA of 4.0 and an SAT score over 1490. For residents, the stakes are even higher with awards ranging from $5000 to $10000. You can find more specific information about their merit scholarships here for residents and non-residents here.


Similar awards are available at the University of Oregon, University of Tennessee, University of Missouri, University of Mississippi, University of Arizona, Texas Tech University, and Clemson University, just to name a few.


Rounding out the top again is Baylor University, which awards up to $22000 based on class rank and SAT score alone. You can learn more about their merit-based scholarships here.


To look up the scholarships available at specific colleges and universities, you will need to visit the website and browse around for “merit-based scholarships” or “academic-based scholarships.”


If you find a scholarship that you’re qualified for, be sure to check that the awards are available to incoming freshman and that you meet any residency requirements. Also find out if there are any specific applications you’ll need to fill out. Sometimes, these scholarships are awarded automatically to all students who meet the requirements, but it’s more common to have a separate application process that you’ll need to  


Third Party Scholarships

Colleges and universities aren’t the only ones to offer merit-based scholarships. Many community organizations or foundations also sponsor these types of awards. While these are typically based on more than just your SAT score, your SAT score is sometimes weighed quite heavily, alongside things like your class rank and GPA.


If you’re involved with any community organizations, even peripherally, be sure to look into scholarship opportunities through them. Common organizations sponsoring merit-based scholarships include the PTA, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, and communities like churches, community centers, and other local foundations. Tap into your network and leverage your connections to find out about all the local scholarships available in your area.


While competition for local scholarships may be slimmer, don’t shy away from larger regional or national scholarships either. A simple online query will reveal hundreds and hundreds of merit-based scholarships available across the country.


To learn more about merit-based scholarships, including where to look to find them, check out these CollegeVine posts:


Getting a Head Start on Your Scholarship Search

15 College Scholarship Resources for High School Students

10 Weird College Scholarships You Should Consider


Many students tend to think that improving their SAT scores is simply another way to improve their chances of getting into college. In reality, though, even small improvements in your score can put you over the threshold for significantly more merit-based funding. Step up your SAT game to increase your chances of success in both college admissions and merit-based scholarships.


For help mastering both the content and strategy needed to boost your SAT score, consider the consider the benefits of CollegeVine’s full service, customized SAT Tutoring Program, where the brightest and most qualified tutors in the industry guide students to an average score increase of 140 points.


For help preparing for the SAT and deciphering your SAT scores, see these valuable CollegeVine posts:


Tips to Prepare Yourself for Your SAT Test Day

How to Pace Yourself on Every Section of the SAT

Five SAT Strategies You Should Know

10 Tips to Prepare for the SAT

What Parents Need to Know about ACT and SAT Studying Prep

How Your SAT Score Impacts Your College Admissions

What Is a Good SAT Score in 2018?

The CollegeVine Guide to SAT Scores: All Your Questions Answered

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Kate Sundquist

Kate Sundquist

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.
Kate Sundquist