Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute - MERIT Scholarship, also known as Military Service Recognition Scholarship - MSRS

The Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) Scholarship, also known as Military Service Recognition Scholarship (MSRS), provides financial aid to children, spouses and financial dependents of members of the armed forces of the United States or state organized militia who, at any time on or after Aug. 2, 1990, while New York State residents, died or became 100% severely and permanently disabled while engaged in hostilities or training for hostilities.

General Information

MERIT provides financial aid to children, spouses and financial dependents of members of the armed forces of the United States or state organized militia who provided eligible military service on or after Aug 2, 1990, while New York State residents and who:

  • died or became 100% severely and permanently disabled as a result of injury or illness suffered or incurred; or are classified as missing in action in a combat theater or combat zone of operations; or who died as a result of injuries incurred in these designated areas; OR
  • died or became 100% severely and permanently disabled as result of injury or illness suffered or incurred during military training operations in preparation for duty in a combat theater or combat zone of operations. A member of the armed forces of the United States or state organized militia who provided eligible military service on or after August 2, 1990 is considered 100% severely and permanently disabled when a doctor of medicine or osteopathy, licensed to practice in a state, has determined that such person is unable to engage in any occupation for remuneration or profit due to a physical or mental impairment.


MERIT is also available to members of the armed forces of the United States or state organized militia who provided eligible military service at any time on or after August 2, 1990 while New York State residents, and who became 100% severely and permanently disabled as a result of injury or illness suffered or incurred:

  • in a combat theater or combat zone; OR
  • during military training operations in preparation for duty in a combat theater or combat zone of operations.

Eligibility

Students must:

  • Study at an approved postsecondary institution in New York State.
  • Have graduated from high school in the United States, or have a high school equivalency diploma earned through passing the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), formally known as the GED, or passed a federally approved "Ability to Benefit" test as defined by the Commissioner of the State Education Department.
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student taking 12 or more credits per semester.
  • Be matriculated in an approved program of study
  • Be in good academic standing.
  • Not be in default on any State or federal student loan or on any repayment of state awards.

How to Apply

Complete and submit the Military Enhanced Recognition Incentive and Tribute (MERIT) Scholarships Web Supplement. Be sure to print the Web Supplement confirmation, sign it, and submit it, along with the required documentation, according to the instructions. 

Once you have established your eligibility and are assigned an account number by HESC, you must do one of the following by June 30 of each academic year to request payment:

  • Current New York State residents – Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and TAP on the Web application. FAFSA and TAP applications and instructions are available on-line at HESC.ny.gov.
  • If you are not a resident of New York State – Contact the HESC Scholarship Unit at 1-888-697-4372 to request a Scholarship and Grant Payment Application.

Award Amounts

MERIT provides funds to help meet the cost of attending college. The award covers up to four years of full-time undergraduate study (or five years in an approved five-year bachelor's degree program) and includes the following components:

  • Tuition: An amount equal to your actual tuition or the State University of New York’s (SUNY) in-state tuition, whichever is less.
  • Non-tuition Costs: These include room and board and allowances for books, supplies and transportation up to the average cost at SUNY Colleges. The Commissioner of Education sets the non-tuition cost allowances each year.
  • Residence: A student living on campus will receive a higher room and board allowance than a commuter student. If housing is not available for students on campus they will receive the same allowance as students living on campus.

The maximum total annual award for students living on campus for the 2014-15 academic year is $21,892; the maximum total annual award for commuter students for the 2014-15 academic year is $14,602. Note: Students choosing to live off campus when housing is available will be paid at the lower commuter rate.

Award Payment

HESC will make payments to schools on behalf of students upon certification of eligibility and submission of appropriate financial aid applications.