Every Point Counts When it Comes to College Scholarships

Every Point Counts When it Comes to College Scholarships


By Suzanne Wood, Raleigh Tutoring

Everyone knows that colleges favor students with high GPAs when admitting their next freshmen class. Impressive scores on the SAT or ACT also play an important role in the selection process. But did you know that students who score well on these tests are eligible for automatic scholarships at many schools across the country?

In fact, just a couple of points on the ACT or 20-30 on the SAT can separate students who are admitted with healthy merit scholarships and those who, while still accepted, don’t qualify for such support. That’s why every winter through spring we hear from frantic parents whose seniors already have the golden ticket to their dream school but need to raise their scores just a bit to earn a merit scholarship.

The bad news: None of the 16 institutions in the UNC system offer automatic ACT/SAT score based scholarships. And a search of the North Carolina’s private colleges and universities didn’t turn up any that offer them--although there are other application-based merit scholarships available at both the state’s public and private schools.

The good news: If your child is willing to go out of state, he or she may be eligible for score-based scholarships. South Carolina’s Clemson University is one such school. Out-of-state students who meet certain GPA requirements--typically by ranking in the top 10 percent of their class--and achieve high ACT or SAT scores automatically qualify for merit scholarships worth between $5,000-$15,000. Eligibility scores for out-of-state students change each year, so be sure to check with the Office of Admissions if your child is thinking about applying to Clemson. In 2016, out-of-staters needed to be ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class and have an SAT score of at least 1250 and an ACT score of 28 to qualify for these scholarships.

In addition to Clemson, here are other schools that are known to reward high SAT/ACT scores in addition to top grades. Be sure to check a school’s admissions policies before applying, as things could change from year to year:

  • Baylor University
  • Colorado State University
  • Florida A&M
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Georgia State
  • Louisiana State University
  • Texas Tech
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nevada at Las Vegas
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • Utah State University

Note: We’re not talking about the National Merit Scholarship Program, in which juniors who achieve PSAT scores in the top 1 percent--roughly 1400 combined math and verbal-- become eligible for scholarships of at least $2,500. For more information on this program, click here

Does your child need help improving his or her SAT or ACT score? We can help! Check out Raleigh Tutoring’s test prep options.

Suzanne Wood is the Assistant Director of Raleigh Tutoring. She also tutors students in the reading/writing/English sections of the SAT/ACT.