The direct link between higher standardized test scores and merit-based scholarships cannot be emphasized enough. There are hundreds of public and private colleges and universities that award merit scholarships based on a combination of test scores and your GPA or standardized test scores alone. Depending on the school, strong test scores can earn a student anywhere from a few thousand dollars a semester to a full ride.

“Nothing can change a student’s fortune faster than a big increase on the SAT.” - Kal Chany, author of the book  PayingFor College Without Going Broke

Consider just a few schools in our own backyard–

  • At Niagara University, an average in the 80s with a 950 SAT score (critical reading & math) (20 ACT) translates to $9,000 per year, but a 90% average with a 1050 SAT score (critical reading & math) (23 ACT); or an 85% average, 1120 SAT score (25 ACT) will get you $16,000 per year.  A 27 on the ACT will get you into the Honors Program.

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  • SUNY Alfred will roll out the red carpet if you have a 94 (3.7 on 4.0 scale) or better high school average through your junior year; at least a 1250 (critical reading and math) combined SAT or 28 composite ACT score. And by red carpet I mean full tuition including room and board.

  • At D’Youville College, the combination of an 88% average, a 1110 SAT and/or a 24 ACT will earn you half off tuition for all four years as long as you maintain a 2.75 GPA.  

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  • At UB, top entering freshmen are awarded Presidential Scholarships. This scholarship is the most valuable scholarship offered within the SUNY system and is renewable for four years of undergraduate study. To be competitive for this award, students must show outstanding academic merit and typically present a minimum unweighted high school average of 95 and a combined SAT critical reading and math score of at least 1470 or an ACT score of 33. Students who receive Presidential Scholarships are automatically admitted to the Honors College.

  • There are many smaller, private, quality institutions where the average merit scholarship is between $10,000 and $25,000. Google your list of college choices along with the search term "merit based scholarships" and find out how much money you can earn. The good news is that with colleges being required to provide a net price calculator on their websites, it is a little bit easier to identify if you're eligible for academic merit aid by just typing in your GPA and ACT or SAT score.

Data also indicates that people who have above average ACT and SAT scores win twice as many scholarships as others.  –

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