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FAQ: Academic Merit Scholarships


As we get set to turn the calendar to April and move closer to the May 1 college enrollment deadline, we’re receiving many questions from accepted students as they move closer to making their college decision. The topic of merit scholarships is one area we’ve heard a lot of questions about, so I wanted to address some of the more common ones we’ve received:

How are academic merit scholarships awarded?

Academic merit scholarships are awarded based on a student’s application for admission, and the review process is primarily focused on a student’s academic credentials (curriculum, grades achieved, class rank if provided, test scores if submitted). Generally speaking, this year’s merit scholars exhausted the academic challenge available to them in their high school environments (reached the highest level course offered – usually AP/IB classes –  in all core academic subject areas) and achieved nearly a straight-A “unweighted” average throughout high school that put them at the top of their classes. Students who received an academic merit scholarship were notified in their acceptance packet, and there was no separate application required.

If I received a merit scholarship, is it possible to appeal for a higher-level award?

No, all merit scholarship awards are final decisions. There is no “merit appeal process” here at PC. We make the best merit scholarship offers that we can up front, and do not have additional merit resources at this time to adjust the level of awards.

If I didn’t receive a merit scholarship in my acceptance packet, is it possible to appeal for one now?

No. As noted in the response to the previous question, we offer all of the merit scholarships that we have to the students who qualify when acceptance letters are released. There are no additional merit scholarships available.

How many students were offered an academic merit scholarship?

In this year’s process, about 26% of accepted students were offered an academic merit scholarship.

Would you reconsider the amount of my merit scholarship based on awards I received from other colleges and universities?

We don’t. We’ve had a number of students send us copies of merit scholarships they’ve received from other schools asking us if we would match their awards, but this is not something that we do here at PC. Remember, every college is awarding its merit scholarships based on the context of its own applicant pool. When we make our merit scholarship offers, we’re doing so based on the academic credentials of the 10,000+ students who have applied to PC this year.

Do I need to do anything special to accept my merit scholarship at PC?

Make sure you complete the Enrollment Reservation Form included in your acceptance packet and the Scholarship Agreement Form (if applicable to your particular award: the Albertus Magnus Scholarship, St. Joseph Scholarship, St. Catherine of Siena Scholarship, St. Thomas Aquinas Scholarship, and St. Dominic Scholarship all have a Scholarship Agreement Form that was included on the left-hand side of your acceptance folder) and return them and your enrollment deposit by the May 1 deadline. And congratulations on making your college decision!

Liberal Arts Honors Program Selections

Liberal Arts Honors

Students selected to be part of the Liberal Arts Honors Program (LAH) received their invitations inside of their acceptance packets last week. Since we receive a lot of questions about LAH selection every year, I thought I would take some time in this post to talk about the process and credentials for the students who were chosen for the program.

In each year’s freshman class of around 1,000 students, we have about 120 spaces in the Honors Program for the top academic performers in the class. There is no separate application required for LAH consideration; the committee on admission considers all accepted students for the Honors Program, and we focus primarily on the following criteria:

  • High School Course Schedule (“Strength of Curriculum”)
  • Context of High School Environment
  • Overall Academic Performance (“Grades Achieved”)
  • Performance in High School English Courses
  • Class Rank (if available)
  • SAT/ACT Scores (if submitted)

The profile of the students accepted to the Class of 2019 shows a very talented academic group, with an average “unweighted” high school GPA of nearly an A-minus in an Honors/AP-level curriculum (this is for an admission invite, not LAH). So, for the students invited to join the Honors Program, we are fortunate to have some truly remarkable candidates who have achieved at the highest possible level during their four years of high school. Generally speaking, the students in the LAH group have the following credentials:

  1. The absolute most demanding curriculum available at their high school. These students have exhausted or nearly exhausted their high school curriculum, taking full advantage of AP, IB, college-level, and Honors courses offered in all academic subject areas. Strength of curriculum is a critical factor in LAH selections; there are many students in our applicant pool who have high GPAs but aren’t selected for LAH because they don’t have this top-level curriculum. Let’s go a little further into “exhausting” the high school curriculum… generally speaking, most students we accept to PC have taken four years of the five core subjects (English, Math, Science, History/Social Science, and Foreign Language) and have taken a predominantly Honors-level curriculum during high school. But we are only selecting a small number of these students for the Honors Program. And they are the students who have taken on the highest possible level of challenge in all academic subject areas. Remember, there is a huge difference between a strong curriculum and the strongest curriculum available at a high school.
  2. A cumulative, unweighted “A” average in that most challenging curriculum. Again, as the average invite GPA to the college (not the Honors Program) was almost an A-minus, we are considering students who have had nearly perfect grades throughout their four years of high school. To put it simply, these students have taken the most demanding classes offered in all academic areas at their high schools and earned “A’s” in practically all of them.
  3. An “A” average in their (most demanding level) English courses throughout high school. As a liberal arts institutions with a challenging core curriculum (and two-year Development of Western Civilization Program!), English performance is very important to us in the admission review and even more so in the Honors Program selection process.
  4. Achievement that places them at the top of their classes. For high schools that provide class rank, LAH students are, on average, within the top 3-5% of their graduating classes.
  5. If a student chose to submit SAT/ACT scores, they were also considered in the LAH review process. Note that as a test-optional institution, SAT/ACT scores are not required for admission nor are they required to be selected for the Honors Program. If a student did submit his or her test scores, we considered them in the LAH review after looking at high school academic work (curriculum/performance), and the average test scores for students invited into LAH this year landed a little below a 700 on each section of the SAT and at about a 31 composite on the ACT. (Remember, though, that test scores don’t outweigh academic performance… So, a student with 700-700-700 SAT scores or a 31 ACT but a less challenging course schedule or “B+” high school GPA isn’t going to be invited into LAH simply because of the strong test scores).

We feel very fortunate to have such an incredibly strong group of applicants to PC, but obviously it makes the admission review – and especially the Honors review – extremely competitive. In fact, there are a handful of students with perfect “A” averages (or an unweighted 4.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale – every grade they have ever received in high school has been an “A”) who were not invited into LAH. The reason for this is that their course selection, while solid in the context of our overall applicant pool for admission, simply did not measure up to those students who truly exhausted the course options available at their high schools (and also achieved at the “A” level!).

Congratulations again to the students selected to join the Liberal Arts Honors Program as part of the Class of 2019!

Class of 2019 Facebook Group

Class of 2019 Providence College Facebook Group

Congratulations to all of you accepted to the PC Class of 2019 during the Regular Decision process! We invite you to begin making connections with your future classmates and the PC community in the Class of 2019 Facebook Group. (Don't be shy - it's a … [Continue reading]

FAQ about the Waiting List

Waiting List for Admission

Receiving the notification that you've been placed on the waiting list is very difficult, and I know that it makes an already stressful college application process that much more stressful. It's still too early in the process at this point to know … [Continue reading]

Why do students with “similar numbers” sometimes receive different decisions?

PC students on their way to class in Harkins Hall.

We receive this question most often from students who have been placed on the waiting list, but have "a friend with the same [or lower] GPA who got in." It's a question that's raised each year around this time as decision letters go out, and the … [Continue reading]

Regular Decision letters mailed!

Providence Post Office

 We made the trip to the Providence Post Office this afternoon... ...with Regular Decision letters! Congratulations to the new members of the Class of 2019 - news should reach mailboxes this week! … [Continue reading]

Thoughts from Committee on Admission

Phelan Gates at the main entrance to Providence College

As decisions are finalized and we get set to mail letters over the coming weeks, I want to take a look back at our "committee on admission meetings" that we finished up at the end of last week. If you've been following along, you're already familiar … [Continue reading]

PC ’19: Senior Science Days

Senior Science Days at PC

For students accepted into the science programs at PC as part of the Class of 2019, we have a couple of opportunities in the weeks ahead for you to learn more about your intended major. The Senior Science Days coming up on Friday, March 27 and … [Continue reading]

Regular Decision Timeline Update


Greetings from Committee on Admission! A quick update on where we are in the Regular Decision review process: We completed the "first read" (by geographic territory) of all of our Regular Decision applicants two weeks ago, the "second read" … [Continue reading]

Campus Visits for Juniors

Campus Snow and Sun

As we continue with the review of applications for the Class of 2019 - current high school seniors - we know that many high school juniors are getting their college search and visit process underway as well. We had quite a few juniors visit PC this … [Continue reading]

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