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9 fabulous financial aid offers for college

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Abilene Christian University
Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas

Abilene Christian University

The deal: Free tuition for all National Merit finalists and semifinalists.

The Preliminary SAT, or PSAT, qualifies some high school juniors for National Merit Scholarships. Among the 1.5 million students who take the test each year, only about 8,000 walk away with money from the National Merit Scholarship Corp. But some colleges will pay handsomely for National Merit contenders.

"National Merit finalists and semifinalists have enormous academic capacity and potential," says Kevin Campbell, chief enrollment officer for Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. "They help set a proper pace and level of student engagement in the classroom, and they partner with faculty on research projects. They enrich the academic experience for other students and faculty."

Abilene offers smaller awards to students who achieve National Merit commendation status.

Many colleges offer aid for National Merit finalists and semifinalists, but only a few offer full tuition. Among those is Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, which offers free tuition to semifinalists and throws in room, board and fees for finalists. Another is the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which provides tuition, room, board and a study-abroad opportunity to semifinalists and finalists.

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