ACT and SAT Scholarships!

Sep 15, 2022

 Scholarship.  That wonderful, magical word that turns talent, effort, and accomplishment into money and opportunity!

There are literally thousands and thousands of academic scholarships available for incoming college students.  And good ACT or SAT scores make students eligible for tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship money and possibly free tuition for all four years! 

And remember, the ACT and SAT aren’t mythical beasts.  They can be learned and mastered and we’re pros at getting students their best scores.

Ready to Jump in and Find Some Sweet Scholarship Money?  C’mon, Follow Us!

Having great tests scores and a lot of scholarship opportunities is both a good thing (yay!,  scholarship money) and a bad thing (boo! yet another thing to figure out in this college admissions process). 

Never fear!  While we can’t possibly identify every scholarship out there, we can make it MUCH easier for you to find the right scholarships for your family.

We’ll break the academic scholarship world down into three types, talk about the best way to approach each type, and then give you clear and specific examples.  

Three Main Types of Academic Scholarships

  1. National Merit scholarships
  2. Private scholarships
  3. College and University scholarships. 

National Merit Scholarships

National Merit Scholarships are extremely valuable, open for ANYONE who would like to compete for one and, because they are attached to a PSAT score, only slightly less confusing to understand than particle physics. 

This is what you need to know:

  • The scholarship is based on a student’s score on the PSAT/NMSQT, as opposed to the PSAT/8-9 or the PSAT 10 (we told you this was unreasonably confusing.)
  • The PSAT/NMSQT is usually only given two times per year (normally October and January).
  • The PSAT/NMSQT score that counts for scholarships is almost always taken JUNIOR year!  
  • The test is administered through high schools.
  • If a Junior takes the PSAT/NMSQT test, they are AUTOMATICALLY enrolled in the competition. 
  • Yes, the rules get fiddly.  Here’s the link you need for more info:

How the Competition Works

Each year, about 1.5 million students enter the competition.  Juniors taking the PSAT/NMSQT are AUTOMATICALLY entered into the competition.  Awards are given to top scorers. 


  • “Commended” awarded to the top 96th percentile (about 50,000 students)
  • “Semifinalist” awarded to about 16,000 students
  • “Finalist” awarded to about 15,000 students (they must submit SAT scores that confirm the PSAT/NMSQT score along with an essay and an application)

The Rewards

Finalists receive a scholarship award of $2,500.  That’s not bad, but that’s not why you want to be a National Merit Scholar.

The Real Rewards

Qualifying for ANY National Merit Scholar award is immediately a HUGE gold star on your application.  AND, many colleges and universities offer VERY, VERY attractive scholarships for National Merit Scholars. 

This chart is just a small sample of colleges and universities that offer scholarships based on the National Merit Scholarship competition.  Many, many colleges and universities offer similar scholarships.  It’s definitely worth a phone call to your target schools to find out what they offer.  

There are specific rules and financial aid considerations as well, so please contact your target schools directly to get all of the details.



University of Southern California

Half Tuition (approximately $29,630) 

University of Oklahoma

Full Tuition (approximately $24,000)

University of Chicago

Starting at $8,000 per year 

Vanderbilt College

From $8,000 to $20,000 per year for 4 years

University of Texas

$4,000 per semester plus $6,000 study abroad stipend

Texas A & M

Up to $28,000

University of Alabama

5 years free tuition plus housing and expenses stipend

University of Arizona

Up to $72,000 over 4 years

University of Minnesota

Up to $40,000 over 4 years

Northeastern University

Up to $28,000 annually

Hope College

$24,000 annually

  • This represents the most updated information we found at the time of publishing.  The testing and scholarship landscape is changing rapidly so be sure to contact your target schools directly. 

Private Scholarships

There are hundreds of private foundations and organizations that award scholarship dollars that are based, at least in part, on SAT and ACT test scores.   

Because these scholarships are from private foundations and organizations, as you would expect, each private organization has its own goals and priorities.   

Some are designed with the goal of supporting students in a specific state (the Kobrin Family Scholarship and the Sunshine Opportunities Scholarship are both Florida based).  Some are trying to support certain academic programs like engineering or STEM.  Some provide scholarships for specific universities.  And some are trying to support students who are the first in their families to go to college.  And there are many, many other goals that private organizations are trying to meet with their financial generosity. 

There tend to be specific rules for these scholarships so please contact these organizations directly to get all of the details.





Kim and Harold Louie Family Foundation

Up to $25,000

ACT 27+

SAT 1300+

GPA 3.7+

Letters of reference

Jackie Robinson Foundation 

Up to $30,000

ACT: 21+

SAT: 1000+

Essay and letter of recommendation,

Hunt Leadership Scholarship Program

$44,000 per year

ACT: 29+

SAT: 1330+

Top 25% graduating class

Chicago Roofing Contractors Association


ACT: 30+

SAT: 1390+

Jonathan Baldwin Turner Scholarship


ACT: 29+

Upper 10% of graduating class

Paul Tsongas Scholarship

Tuition and fee waiver

ACT: 26+

SAT: 1200+

GPA: 3.75

5 Strong

Full Tuition

“Excellent” ACT/SAT scores and “superior” GPA

Craig and Galen Brown Scholarship

Up to $100,000

SAT: 1400+

ACT: 32+

National Merit Semi-finalist, letters of recommendation


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