A merit scholarship is a financial award given to a student on the basis of merit or accomplishment. While many merit scholarships are given for academic accomplishments, students can also earn them for merit in athletics, fine arts or extracurricular activities.
The primary goal of a merit scholarship is to reward accomplishment. While financial need is a consideration in some scholarships, it isn't as important as it is in need-based awards. Students may earn merit awards from specific colleges, as well as through local organizations where they finish high school. Some colleges offer merit scholarships in particular fields to generate interest in an underrepresented area.