Any schools where I might receive merit scholarships?Answered
I go to a public school in the Midwest
35 ACT, 3.93 UW GPA, 4.13 weighted
I will qualify for National Merit Semifinalist (at least) based on my PSAT score
International Top 10 at DECA, 1st in state
4-time International Future Problem Solving participant
President of 3 student groups, VP of Student Council
United Against Hate student Advisory Board member
Not a lot of community service in any one activity, but community outreach projects through clubs and NHS
I'm not trying to brag or do a chanceme or anything, I was just wondering if there are some middle-range schools that would be likely to give me significant merit aid, or if there are outside scholarships I should be looking for. I know it's hard to get merit scholarships anywhere, but I am trying to find out where I should even try. I've had trouble finding relevant results.
Honestly, you should have a pretty good shot at merit scholarships from a lot of private schools. With a 35 ACT, almost(?) straight-As, and a pretty strong set of ECs, even schools like USC, Northeastern, and BU—which are at the top end of the schools that offer merit scholarships—could potentially offer you something. (It wouldn't be anything like a full ride, but those schools will often offer awards around ~25k/yr to really accomplished students). You could even be a competitive applicant for something like the Robertson program at Duke/UNC, which is a free ride + a lot of incentives and additional opportunities.
That aside, some schools I've seen students get a lot of aid from in that nebulous "mid-tier" you're talking about are Case Western, Syracuse, Fordham, Drexel, University of Miami, Loyola Chicago, Loyola Marymount, and Pepperdine. That's a pretty big range, but most of those schools are somewhere between #50 and #150 on US News rankings, to give you an idea of where they stand. Rankings are a decent gauge of the competitiveness of a school's average applicant, and by that a decent proxy for the aid you might get from a school. So below that range, that's where you'd start to see really big numbers—full ride scholarships and the like—potentially offered.
As for public schools, that depends on your state. Most state flagships will give students like you (in their state) a pretty substantial amount of money, but some are more stingy than others. Smaller regional state schools would almost definitely give you significant merit aid. That said, public schools outside your state are always a lot less likely to give money, even to a student of your caliber.