Even if you’re lucky enough to be receiving financial support from your family, they probably aren’t going to foot the whole bill for college. So you’re probably wondering, What’s a good SAT score for scholarships, and how can I find them?
The short answer is that you should aim for an SAT score between 1200 and 1600 if you want to secure some scholarships based on merit–and the higher within that range you score the more money you’re looking at.
However, different schools have different scholarship requirements (some even have guaranteed scholarship awards for students scoring above certain cutoffs) so you’ll want to research the specific schools on your list.
Now for the long answer…
What’s a Good SAT Score for Scholarships?
In this post we’ll examine the different types of scholarships you can apply for, where to find them, and what some of the standard scholarship amounts offered by different schools based on SATs look like. We’ll also coach you through how to set your own specific goal score, and how to structure your SAT prep around that goal!
There are many ways to earn scholarship $$$ (sports, extracurriculars, overcoming adversity, the list goes on), but this post is going to focus on how to secure scholarships through your standardized test scores – especially the SATs.
Now let’s take a look at how to turn your good SAT scores into some scholarship dollars.
Types of Scholarships
First of all, many colleges around the country have what are called guaranteed scholarships. These scholarships are automatically awarded to accepted students who have earned a certain SAT score. The cool thing about them is that you don’t even have to fill out a separate application. When you’re researching colleges, keep your eyes open for what guaranteed scholarships are out there.
A larger number of colleges also have general merit scholarships. These scholarships have the same SAT requirements, but you are in competition with other accepted students for a limited number of awards. These scholarships may require a separate application, along with a personal or themed essay. In short, read those directions closely!
Available Scholarships by School
Many colleges and universities have specific scholarships available for their current and incoming students, so if you have a list of schools you’re interested in, a simple Google search for your top college choices along with the search term “merit scholarships” is all you need. Because every scholarship’s requirements are different, you have some work to do: get out there and find some scholarships!
Scholarships based on academic merit often have minimum SAT scores provided in their descriptions. Take note of any SAT score requirements you find during your research, then average all those scores. The result is your minimum SAT score goal.
Not sure which colleges you want to apply to yet? Here’s a list to get you started:
|University||SAT Score (or other requirements)||Scholarship Amount|
|Alfred State College||1310 SAT or 28 ACT (with an 94% high school average GPA)||Full ride scholarship (tuition, room, and board)
|American University||National Achievement or National Merit Finalist||$2,000 annually|
|Auburn University||1250-1490 SAT or 29-30 ACT(with a 3.5 high school GPA)||$11,000|
|Baylor University||1330 SAT||$5,000|
|Beloit College||National Merit Finalist||Up to $5,000|
|Bluffton College||1160 SAT or 24 ACT (with 3.5 GPA)||$4,000-$140,000|
|Clemson University||National Merit Finalist||$2,500|
|Colorado State University||1280+ SAT (in-state) / 1130+ (out-of-state)||$1,000-$4,000 / $5,000-$10,000|
|Columbia College||1260 SAT or 26 ACT (and 3.6 GPA)||Up to 100% off tuition|
|Earlham College||1140 SAT||$5,000|
|Hamline University||1140 SAT (with 3.25 GPA or top 20% of class) - 1260 SAT (with 3.8 GPA or top 5% of class)||$2500 - Full Ride|
|Florida A&M||1290 SAT or 29 ACT (with a 3.5 GPA)||Full Ride|
|Louisiana State University||1310-1490 SAT||$1,500-$3,500 (in-state) / $7,600-$20,500 (out-of-state)|
|Texas Tech University||1300-1390 SAT or 28-30 ACT||$4,000 per year|
|University of Arizona||1100-1600 SAT or 22-36 ACT (3.0-4.0 GPA)||$3,000-$15,000|
|University of Arkansas||National Merit Scholar||$10,000 annually|
|University of Indianapolis||SAT 1270 or ACT 29 (3.3 GPA)||Up to 100% off tuition|
|University of Iowa||National Merit Finalist||$3000 annually|
|University of Mississippi||1200-1490 SAT (with 3.0 GPA)||$1,500-$8,550|
|University of Missouri||1200-1390 SAT (in-state) / 1260-1360 SAT (out-of-state)||$3,000-$6,500 / $7,000-$15,000|
|University of New Mexico||1090 SAT (with a 3.3 GPA) - 1360 SAT (with a 3.9 GPA)||$5,000-$13,215|
|University of Oregon||1220-1250 SAT||$3,000-$6,000 (in-state) / $7,500-$10,000 (out-of-state)|
|University of Southern California||National Merit Finalist||50% off tuition|
|University of Tennessee||1330-1490 SAT||$3,000-$8,000 (in-state) / $7,500-$15,000 (out-of-state)|
|Wesleyan College||National Merit Finalist or National Achievement Finalist||50% off tuition|
The amount of scholarship money available varies widely between schools, but if you’re looking at regular public and private colleges and universities, you’re likely to see these kinds of numbers.
There are also scholarships out there that aren’t affiliated any specific academic institute (the Burger King James W. McLamore WHOPPER Scholarship for example), so once you’ve exhausted your college list, try casting a wider net. Here are just some of the scholarships with super simple applications that I discovered after a few minutes of online research:
On DoSomething.org you can enter to win college scholarships by participating in community service campaigns–some are even as simple as sending a tweet!
2. $2,000 No Essay Scholarship
Niche gives away a $2,000 scholarship every month. All you have to do is register for a free account and you are entered to win this scholarship.
3. $10,000 Unigo Scholarship
Answer Unigo’s prompt in 250 words or less. One of their recent topics was “Surprise! You just got elected president. What’s your first tweet?”
Cappex provides an $1,000 scholarship every month. All you have to do is create a Cappex profile and tell them what you do in your free time to be eligible to win.
5. $1,000 You Deserve It Scholarship
ScholarshipOwl is an online platform designed to match you with the award opportunities that fit your background, grades, lifestyle, and more–and you will be entered to win the “$1,000 You Deserve It Scholarship” just by making a free account on their website.
Searching for scholarships can be exhausting, so consider going to see your high school or college counselor to give you a leg up on the hunt.
How to Set Your SAT Goal Score
Having a specific score in mind will help you focus your SAT prep, but don’t forget that this score is a minimum – ideally you want to be scoring a bit higher than this number on your practice tests (and the real thing, of course!).
Once you’ve got a strong SAT score under your belt, you can shift your focus to the scholarship applications themselves, and any essays and/or personal statements that may be lurking within.
Final Thoughts About a Good SAT Score for Scholarships
There are a lot of scholarships out there, and surprisingly enough, many of them have nothing to do with SAT scores. Like I mentioned at this beginning of this post, plenty of scholarships are based around other attributes such as overcoming adversity, your background, your summer job, or simply how well you write an essay. You probably have a lot more than just your SAT scores going for you, so you shouldn’t sell yourself short by only looking into merit scholarships – they’re just a good place to start!
Well, Magooshers, that’s all for now. Before you go any further, make sure to check out our article on the 3 Best Places to Look For College Scholarships. Happy scholarship hunting!
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About Thomas Broderick
Thomas spent four years teaching high school English, social studies, and ACT preparation in Middle Tennessee. Now living in Northern California, he is excited to share his knowledge and experience with Magoosh's readers. In his spare time Thomas enjoys writing short fiction and hiking in the Sonoma foothills.
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