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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

How to Use your PSAT Score to Find Scholarships

Recently, the College Board modified their scoring system such that the PSAT score is now an estimate of your SAT score.  There are numerous tables available to help you convert the SAT to an ACT or CLT score.  With this information, there is a lot that can be done.

1.     Identify Prospective Colleges
2.     Identify Possible Academic Merit Scholarships
3.     Strategically plan out your testing schedule for the rest of high school
4.     Set Goals for SAT & ACT &CLT scores
5.     Decide when and whether to take SAT subject tests
6.     Decide whether or not to take AP courses in the future

For now, we’ll focus on:

How to you use test scores to look for scholarships

There are two major types of scholarships.  First there are private scholarships, which are those scholarships offered by private organizations like Coca Cola, Walmart, etc.  Most of these scholarships require essays or projects to be prepared and submitted along with an application.  Careful research to identify and track these opportunities needs to be done.  Tracking the scholarships you may be eligible for you will be key to accumulating funds for college.  Be aware, however, that private scholarships are considered resources by the financial aid eligibility calculators; they reduce need based aid dollar for dollar.  Consequently, determination of that impact needs to be done first.

The other type of scholarship is called institutional scholarships. These scholarhsips come from the colleges and universities themselves.  The good news is that they comprise 93% of the scholarship dollars and, since they are the colleges’ own funds, can be distributed as the colleges wish.

Remember the middle 50% of test scores we discussed earlier?  Let’s take a look at a few examples from Every Catholic’s Guide to College, a college guide I compiled for practicing Catholics (available on  Like all college guides, it includes a great deal of information for each college, including the middle 50% of the test scores.

Arizona State University 510-630/520-640 or 23-28
Drake University 520-670/550- 690 or 24-30
Ferris State University 19-24 or 910–1110 combined SAT
New York University 610–710/630–740 or 28-32

The evidence based reading & writing score is always listed first, followed by the math score.  Be aware that some places are still using the old CR/M notation.  When the College Board revised the SAT, the critical reading section was renamed evidence based reading and writing.  Since there is no good abbreviation for that, some still use CR to denote that score.

At Arizona State, 25% of the accepted students scored higher than 630 on the reading and writing test and higher than 640 on the math portion of the test.  At most colleges and universities, scholarships are given to the top 10% of the accepted student pool.  Therefore, without doing any other research, a student with a 710/710 may be offered scholarships.  For a first pass at identifying colleges and universities likely to offer your student academic scholarships, ASU would be included.  From the above list, Ferris State would also be included, with a high likelihood of being awarded scholarships.

The second step, once you have created a list of potentially generous colleges for your student, is to investigate their financial aid websites in search of further information.  Some scholarships also have a need component.  This means that, in order to qualify for those scholarships, the student must have both academic merit and financial need.  Most financial aid pages include information on scholarships.

Here are a few examples of colleges that offer guaranteed scholarships based on test scores.  These schools award students with certain scores a set amount of scholarships, most of which are renewable if the student has satisfactory academic progress.  Some also require certain grade point averages or class ranks.  For the first few, I have included the details as they were recently posted on their websites.  A list of other colleges and universities follows.  This is by no means an exhaustive list; it is a sampling to provide examples of what some schools offer as “guaranteed scholarships.”  These awards are given to all qualifying students.

Baylor University
Clemson University
Colorado State University
Florida A & M University
Florida Gulf Coast University
Georgia State University
Louisiana State University
Texas Tech
University of Arizona
University of Mississippi
University of Nevada at Las Vegas
University of Oregon
University of Tennessee
University of Texas at Arlington
Utah State University

Your PSAT scores provide an incredible opportunity to reduce your college costs, find just the right type of college or university, and begin to prepare for success at college.  It’s a complex journey, with many additional considerations outside the scope of this e-book.  Sadly, most families will do very little with this information.  It’s like anything else, it’s easy to hear or read about something but difficult to actually implement what you’ve learned.  With regard to college prep, it’s even more challenging since teens are involved.

Given the fact that selecting a college is a $150,000 - $300,000 proposition, many families seek professional guidance on their journey to college.  With so many factors to be considered in the areas of student selection, college selection, funding, scholarships, and application, college prep is both complex and time consuming.  Selecting a college consultant can be challenging.  Since it’s a relatively new field, many families are unfamiliar with the options available, the types of training college consultants might have, and how much it might cost.  To answer just these questions, I wrote The Ultimate Guide to Top Quality College Planning, available on Amazon.  For Catholics, I’ve also compiled Every Catholic’s Guide to College: The 315 Best US Colleges & Universities for Practicing Catholics, also available on Amazon.

How will you use your PSAT score report?

(If you'd like the entire e-book teaching how to use PSAT Scores to get Scholarships, go here: