With the cost of college continuously on the rise, many college-bound students and their parents are desperately looking for ways to reduce the cost of college without sacrificing an exceptional education experience. Unfortunately, many of the “brand name” schools that students hear about offer the least financial aid to incoming freshmen. 

One way that students can lower their anticipated college costs (and still go to a great school) is by looking for automatic merit scholarships.

What is an automatic merit scholarship?

An automatic merit scholarship is one that a college provides “automatically” based on the student meeting specific criteria.  The student doesn’t need to compete to receive a scholarship.  Many colleges offer automatic merit scholarships as a form of tuition discounting to attract top students. This may sound too good to be true, but plenty of schools offer academic scholarships and grants for students who have exceptional grades or test scores. 

Most automatic merit scholarships are based on a combination of the student’s GPA or a combination of ACT score or SAT score and GPA. Many colleges use a grid to determine automatic merit scholarships. These often range up to full-tuition scholarships, or better — scholarships that include the cost of tuition plus room and board, or additional education-related expenses (think: text books, laptops, etc.). 

Examples of Colleges That Use a Grid to Award Automatic Merit Scholarships:

These are just three examples of the many colleges that use grids to award automatic merit scholarships.

Tuskegee University, Alabama 

Texas Tech University

Truman State University


 There are also many other colleges that don’t use grids but do offer automatic merit scholarships. You will find that colleges vary a lot as far as the requirements for receiving automatic merit scholarships and the amounts that they offer.

How To Find Colleges That Offer Automatic Merit Scholarships

You could spend time looking up different college websites and looking around on those websites to see if they offer automatic merit scholarships.  I’ve done that.  It takes a tremendous amount of time!

Instead, we have two options available to you to save time and find what you need:

  1. MyCAP – This is our subscription website to help you find an affordable path to college. You can search for all merit scholarships offered by colleges around the country. To find automatic merit scholarships,  choose Advanced School Search and then choose “Automatic Scholarships Only” in the Merit Scholarship filter. We have over 27,000 scholarship records in our database ranging from a few hundred dollars up to full ride or more.  MyCAP will determine which schools will offer you automatic merit scholarships based on the information you entered in your student profile (GPA, ACT/SAT, state, etc) and you can narrow down the schools you see by using the Advanced Search filters. 
  2. Automatic Full Scholarship List – If you are looking for automatic full-tuition and full-ride merit scholarships, you will want to check out our Automatic Full Scholarships list with 151 automatic merit scholarships that colleges around the country offer to top students. These are specifically offered as full-ride or full-tuition scholarships or scholarships listed as “Up to Full Ride” or “Up to Full Tuition”. We are making this list available to you for free in a sortable and filterable spreadsheet. Use this link to download a free copy of the spreadsheet: XXX

Automatic merit scholarships are a great way for families to save money on a college education.  Keep in mind that not all colleges offer automatic merit scholarships, especially the most prestigious schools in the country.  Also, keep in mind that colleges vary greatly as far as the GPA value and ACT score or SAT score required to get a good automatic merit scholarship.  If you are willing to keep an open mind and explore colleges you’ve never heard of before, this can be a great way to find affordable colleges.

Make Your Scholarship Search a Snap

To kick off your scholarship search, sign up for your free MyCAP account today by clicking here. Through the MyCAP application, you’ll be able to:

  1. Search for the actual cost of colleges across the country.
  2. Estimate your expected family contribution (EFC).
  3. Research whether your student will qualify for financial aid (and if so, how much).
  4. Look up scholarships (including automatic merit scholarships!).
  5. Find out which schools offer merit scholarships (and which ones don’t).
  6. Keep track of application deadlines.

And the best part is that, in addition to the application features, you’ll also have access to our team of experts! We host regular Office Hours Q&A sessions, educational events, and more.

Ready to get started? Click here to register!