Scholarship News

More Schools Adopting Test-Optional Merit Aid


March 2, 2021 1:22 PM
by Izzy Hall
Back in September, a few colleges who had already adopted a test-optional policy for the current admissions cycle announced that they would be awarding merit scholarships without the need for applicants to submit test scores. Since then, more and more colleges and universities have quietly adopted test-optional merit aid policies to complement their currently test-optional admissions.

Back in September, a few colleges who had already adopted a test-optional policy for the current admissions cycle announced that they would be awarding merit scholarships without the need for applicants to submit test scores. Since then, more and more colleges and universities have quietly adopted test-optional merit aid policies to complement their currently test-optional admissions.

Public universities such as Michigan State University, Arizona State University, Texas Tech University and the University of Indiana put clear language on their merit aid pages stating that students can qualify for merit scholarships without test scores. MSU addresses their policy on their Test-Optional FAQ page: “Yes, students who apply without a test score will still be considered for merit scholarships.” ASU placed the following disclaimer at the top of their First-year Student Scholarship Estimator: “If you do not have ACT or SAT test scores, you can now qualify for ASU's New American University Scholarship by meeting high school core competencies.” Texas Tech University will consider students “holistically” when awarding merit scholarships. Meanwhile, the University of Indiana has made all three of its signature academic scholarships test-optional, noting that they will take into account “high school GPA, grades received in coursework required by the Office of Admissions, and rigor and performance in advanced courses (AP, IB, honors, etc.).”

Outside of public institutions, some private colleges and universities have adapted test-optional merit aid for their incoming students. Examples include Boston University, Gonzaga University, Baylor University, Vanderbilt University, Miami of Ohio and Notre Dame. These schools will consider all first-year applicants for merit aid whether they submitted test scores or not. Students can submit a test score if they so choose, and Boston University, for example, lists typical scores that have admitted students in past years, but it is not a requirement for receiving merit scholarships.

Other schools may award certain merit scholarships without regard to test scores while requiring them for others. Students who apply to Creighton University this year will be guaranteed up to $10,000 as part of a new Academic Opportunity Award, but they may need to provide test scores for some of the school’s additional scholarships. Seton Hall University will consider all applicants, test scores or not, for general scholarships, but still requires test scores for specific “special scholarships.” University of the Cumberlands likewise has some merit scholarships that require test scores and some that do not.

By this time of year, students have already submitted their applications and are waiting to hear back from the schools they applied to. If you applied to a test-optional school, you may receive merit aid based on your high school GPA and course performance alongside an acceptance letter!

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