What is the difference between merit & need-based scholarships?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,966
    Financial advisor Brad Barnett discusses what the difference between merit and need-based scholarship are.

    Brad Barnett

    Brad received his Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Arkansas University, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Business.  He furthered his education by graduating from the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, specializing in Mental Health.  He has been involved in the financial aid and/or rehabilitation professions for the past 15 years. Brad, a Past President of the Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (VASFAA), currently serves as the Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid & Scholarships for James Madison University.  Immediately prior to JMU, he served as an Assistant Director of the Financial Aid Office at Virginia Commonwealth University.  Brad has presented numerous sessions at state, regional, and national conferences, and has served on a variety of association committees.  In addition to speaking at professional conferences, Brad has conducted an abundance of workshops and presentations in non-conference environments, including teaching a credit based financial literacy course at JMU entitled “Dollars and Sense.”  Many of the topics Brad’s speaks on include communication, leadership, values, financial aid policies and procedures, financial literacy, and saving for college.  He has also facilitated strategic planning and value development retreats.

    Host: What is the difference between merit and need-based scholarship?

    Brad Barnett: When you are looking at merit versus need-based scholarships, what you are really talking about is, what s the criteria you used to determine whether I get this award. With a merit award, you are typically in a situation where they are not looking at your financial status at all. They are looking at you from maybe a leadership perspective or certain accomplishment that you have had over your period of time. It just depends on exactly what their criteria, they have for the award, but finances usually aren t a part of it. When you are looking at something that s need-based then it s the reverse. Typically, then they are not as interested in maybe some of your accomplishments but they are looking at your financial status, to see where you fall and if you fall in line to meet and the need criteria for the scholarship. But you will also find that some scholarships are mix of the two. They may have a need component and a merit component. So it can vary, but, that s pretty much the difference between the two.