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Merit Scholarship Transparency Methodology

Our Transparency Grading System

College Aid Pro’s scoring system uses three simple factors to determine a school’s “GPA” on the Scholarship Report Card:


  1. Clarity Of Requirements
  2. Clarity On Award Amounts
  3. Consistency In Application


We apply a traditional GPA score of zero through four in each of the above categories and the cumulative total dictates the final grade. We use a combination of quantitative and qualitative sources to score each particular category, including:

  • Public data sources including the college’s website and government reports
  • Direct communication with colleges about their merit award amounts and criteria
  • Thorough verification process of each college’s published and intuited criteria based on our database of actual award letters
  • Proprietary projection engine to incorporate real-time changes to available awards and shifting selection criteria

We strive to provide the most up to date and accurate numbers and transparency scores possible, so we continuously evaluate our algorithms against actual awards to keep our results current and improve our processes. We have a fully dedicated team who consistently verifies, updates, and analyzes our underlying data sets.

Grading Criteria






Clarity Of Requirements


2 – 4

1 – 3

0 – 2

0 – 1

Clarity On Award Amounts


2 – 4

1 – 3

0 – 2

0 – 1

Consistency In Application


2 – 4

1 – 3

0 – 2

0 – 1

Total Score


3 – 3.9

2 – 2.9

1 to 1.9

0 to 0.9

A = 4.0

  • Clearly specified merit scholarship amounts, not wide dollar ranges
  • Well-defined criteria required to earn each award on their school website
  • Merit aid included in school’s Net Price Calculator (NPC)

B = 3.0 to 3.9

  • Some merit qualification guidance provided
  • Do not clearly disclose merit scholarship amounts and criteria on website
  • Typically include merit-based awards in the NPC results

C = 2.0 to 2.9

  • Provide basic information on merit opportunities with a wide range of possible amounts
  • Criteria for some automatic or semi-automatic scholarships may be specified
  • Merit awards may be included in the school’s NPC, but often is not

D = 1.0 to 1.9

  • Limited merit information on either award amounts or the criteria used, but not both
  • Schools that only offer competitive scholarships
  • Merit is not typically included in the school’s NPC

F = 0.0 to 0.9

  • Make mention of automatic, semi-automatic merit, or competitive scholarships on their website, but give no further information about it
  • Unable to find award amounts or selection criteria
  • Merit is also not included in the school’s NPC

N/A : Merit scholarships are rare or non-existent at the school

  • Highly competitive schools, such as the Ivy Leagues
  • Military Academies that are free to attend for all accepted students
  • Merit-based aid is only considered alongside the need-based criteria

In simple terms, our grading system rewards the colleges and universities that make it easy on potential applicants to determine if they will be eligible for merit-based awards and how much those awards will be. The schools that withhold this information until the award letter goes out, removing the family’s ability to plan accordingly, receive correspondingly poor marks.

Note: it is worth reiterating that this Scholarship Report Card deals with only merit-based aid. A college’s ranking based on this criteria will have no impact on how they are graded on the Need Report Card.

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