It’s a little known secret that four out of five colleges use standardized test scores as a criterion for merit scholarships. This means that students who score in the top 10 percent of test-takers – around 2000 (out of 2400) on the SAT and 28 (out of 36) on the ACT – can expect to be offered merit scholarships as large as $28,000 a year! Merit scholarships are also available for students scoring lower but who score beyond the median score requirement of a particular school. (Remember, merit scholarships are NOT based on need and family income – only the academic profile.)
If you go to most colleges’ websites, you will notice a “net cost calculator” which lets students see how much they would need to pay out of pocket to attend. A student who has entered his profile and only changes nothing but his ACT or SAT test score can see the scholarship money increase as their scores rise! SAT score increases of 100-200 points or 4-5 points on the ACT can translate into thousands of dollars in merit aid!
Take for example the the out of state student who applies to Indiana University – one of the approximately 100 schools that presently superscore the ACT*. (Superscoring occurs when a college takes the highest subscores from various test dates to get a new higher score.) Let’s assume he has a GPA of 3.8 and a 30 on his ACT. This provides him with $5000 in merit aid per year. If he takes the ACT again and goes up just 1 point, that will translate into $11,000 per year – more than twice the difference! (*Most colleges superscore the SAT.)
Another example is the student who had a very strong GPA and was planning on majoring in engineering. On his first attempt on the SAT, he scored 2000. He was advised to invest into SAT coaching and when he retook the exam, he scored 2170. That 170 overall point improvement enabled him to receive a $112,000 in merit scholarship to Tulane University.
The bottom line is that improving test scores can translate into significant merit aid. Colleges believe that students with higher test scores will be stronger students, more likely to get higher grades and more likely to graduate in four years. Admitting higher scoring students helps the college rank higher as well look a lot more selective, thereby ultimately attracting more top students. Clearly a win/win.
Want to get some merit aid for your teen? Perhaps it’s time to rethink investing in a quality test prep program like BreakThrough Test Prep with over a 23 year track record – literally helping thousands of students get the scores they deserve. As you have just learned, your ROI (return on investment) in a top test prep program is potentially worth thousands of dollars.