Impact Advisors Group | College Planning

What Are Talent Merit Scholarships?

Does your student have a special skill they have developed for years? Have they practiced something for thousands of hours until they became better than almost any other? Do they have a talent that they were either born with or developed throughout their life? 

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, consider looking into Talent Merit Scholarships for your student.

What Is a Talent Merit Scholarship?

Talent Merit Scholarships are awards provided directly by colleges to students with outstanding skills or potential in a particular area. Often, colleges consider students with talents in the following areas for scholarships of this sort:

  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Dance
  • Visual Arts
  • Journalism/Writing
  • Debate & Speech
  • Cheer
  • Film

Often, schools with specific degree programs in creative fields offer talent merit scholarships for those who meet specific requirements. Some of these may require an application or some sort of submission of materials. For example, a college with a strong film program may require a submission that includes a short original film, supporting materials, or more, for a student to qualify for a talent merit scholarship.

How to Win a Talent Merit Scholarship

Almost every Talent Merit Scholarship will require the student to show their talent to a committee in one way or another. For example, if your student wants to apply for an art scholarship, they will need to submit a portfolio that strictly follows the submission guidelines. Or, if your student applies for a music or theatre scholarship, an audition is standard practice. 

Across the board, the school needs to gauge just how talented your student is in their area of interest. However, just because your student is exceptional does not mean that they will always win the merit scholarship. Most times, your student also has to major in the same area as they receive their scholarship. 

A good example of such a restriction is the policy that many schools have on marching band scholarships. Students can win scholarships for marching band, but they cannot merely stop marching after their tuition discount. Instead, the students need to continue participating in marching band throughout their college experience to retain the scholarship. The same holds for most other Talent Merit Scholarships; the student has to continue developing their skills throughout their time at the university. 

Are Talent Merit Scholarships a Viable Means of Financial Aid?

We know what Talent Merit Scholarships are, and the processes to get your student there, but are they worth the application effort? 

In short, yes

If your student genuinely has a gift, there is always a chance they will win the scholarship. Even if the probability of success is low, nothing is set in stone, and your student will never know until they try. If winning a Talent Merit Scholarship makes a school financially doable, encourage your student to put themselves out there and go for the opportunity. 

In terms of how much money a Talent Merit Scholarship can contribute towards your student’s college education, it depends. Factors like the school, department, competitiveness, and prestige of the scholarship all play into how much it could be worth. A school that values the arts will likely offer more money for a visual arts scholarship than a school that ignores the arts. With that said, Talent Merit Scholarships can range from only a few hundred dollars to a full-tuition deal. 

Scholarship Tools in Talent Merit Scholarships

While applying for Talent Merit Scholarships is a task in itself, finding the scholarships themselves can also be challenging. Often, colleges hide such scholarships behind outdated university website pages. On top of preparing your student to make an award-winning application, finding the scholarships themselves adds another layer of stress. 

However, we subscribe to a college-based scholarship tool that can significantly simplify the process. Our clients have access to every Talent Merit Scholarship offered in amounts of $2,000 or more. Instead of scrolling through dozens of pages of useless information for every school your student is considering, plug in your student’s talent/states of interest and view the scholarships they are eligible for. You may find great Talent Merit Scholarships at schools your student has never even considered.

With this at your fingertips, you can free up the time to assist your student in the application process while also ending up with a more comprehensive dataset than you could have created by hand. You will also have access to every other merit-based scholarship to increase your likelihood of finding a financial fit. Many schools allow Talent Merit Scholarships to be added on top of Academic Merit Scholarships.

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