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September 29, 2008

MeritAid.com: Your Merit Makes Money

This Extra Ink was written by our intern, Betsy C.

It's that time of year: as college application deadlines loom, students and their parents alike become more and more concerned about the approaching choices they'll have to make. Choosing a college is a totally scary process--it's an important decision that will play a big part in your life for the next four years (and afterwards, too.) But one factor can narrow a student's options more than any other: cost. Colleges, especially American colleges, are becoming more and more expensive each year, and the economy is far from booming.

The goal of MeritAid.com is to make financing an education at the college of your choice as easy as possible. Merit Aid provides a large online database of merit-based scholarships available from many different colleges. Their scholarship listings total over $11 billion!

According to the site, lots of students receive merit-based financial aid every year--the average merit-based scholarship totals about $5,000. Lots of colleges offer merit-based aid, but they don't widely advertise it. Luckily, Merit Aid has done the work for you! You can search by college name if you have a specific school in mind, but you can also "let the colleges come to you" and give your contact information so that schools will know you want to apply for merit-based aid.

Don't worry if you're not a straight-A student; you know you've still got merit, and believe it or not, colleges do too! According to Merit Aid, "many merit scholarships from colleges require only a 2.0 GPA - or lower - to qualify and are awarded for accomplishments in leadership and school and community involvement."

Teen Ink is all about looking at students' accomplishments above and beyond the number on the report card, and it's good to see that students can be rewarded for hard work that doesn't necessarily appear on a test score.

MeritAid.com might provide just the boost you need to be able to afford that dream college whose brochures you've been rereading for months. So get out there, apply for aid--and remember to send in your applications on time!

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