Merit Scholarship Program (MSP)

Tiếng Việt


Experience the Merit cycle with us, from VietHope volunteers visiting the student’s families to observe and interview family members about the student’s academic performance, learning environment and financial hardships, to meeting recipients themselves, to seeing the award ceremonies.


In Vietnam, the percentage of children who attended but subsequently dropped out of school increases dramatically with student age. According to the “Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children: Viet Nam Country Study” report released in 2014 by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), almost 16% of the age group population has dropped out of school by the age of 14. The dropout figure increases to more than 39% by the age of 17 during the last year of upper secondary school.

Why does this dropout rate increase?  In previous study Survey Assessment of Vietnamese Youth, also conducted by UNICEF, the main reason for not attending school is still because families ‘can’t afford school fees’ or schooling expenses (44.1%). These education-related expenses may include text books, stationery, clothing, contributions for school infrastructure and transport. This is followed by ‘having to work for my family’ (21.2%). 

Reasons Students Drop Out of School

The difficulties in paying education-related costs and having to work to help families fall far more heavily on those living in poverty. This explains to a certain extent why young people from poor areas, as well as those from ethnic minorities, make up a disproportionate percentage of the population not attending school.



The Merit Scholarship Program’s goal is to help students stay in school and continue their education rather than having to begin working or farming early. The program provides $120 USD scholarships to students once each school year.  This amount is sufficient to cover expenses such as school fees, books, uniforms and transportation.  The scholarships are renewable up to 12th grade, as long as the recipient continues to perform well in school and experience financial hardship.



Scroll through the slideshow below to meet a few of our Merit scholars.  VietHope selects recipients based jointly on financial need and academic performance. VietHope partners with local schools, who naturally are interested in having students continue their studies.  After students learn about the program through their schools  and apply, VietHope volunteers review the applications, including visiting the student’s home whenever possible.  VietHope re-assesses scholarship renewals each year, again with an application and a family visit.




Over the past ten years (2002-2012), VietHope has  supported more than 1,500 Merit students.  This number includes students who have received the Merit Scholarship award for more than one year (the most awarded students were sponsored for as long as 7 years).

Our award recipients have come from many rural areas throughout Vietnam:

  • Southern Vietnam: Saigon outskirts, Ca Mau, Dong Thap, Khanh Hoa, Kien Giang, Tien Giang, Dong Nai
  • Central Vietnam: Khanh Hoa, Hue, Quang Binh, and Ha Tinh.
  • Northern Vietnam: Nam Dinh, Thai Binh, Ha Nam, Phu Tho, and Thai Nguyen.

As a result of our support, Merit students have completed schooling through 12th grade at a higher rate, and have entered into top universities where they continue to keep in touch with VietHope staff. Some universities that our students have been admitted to are the following:

  • Can Tho University
  • Ha Noi Polytechnic University
  • Dong Thap General Education College
  • Hue College of Medicine
  • Ha Noi Foreign Trade University

Since 2010, the GRACE Education Fund (formerly through the New Moon Foundation), have partnered with VietHope to help over 293 financially disadvantaged Vietnamese students with 400 scholarships of almost $56,000USD. About 100 students have been a part of the VH-GRACE program and we have hosted 6 sessions in 2013 and 2014 to test the effectiveness of distinct strategies for long-term inculcation and build community around GRACE values for over 130 students in grades 6-9 including Gratitude, Respect, Accountability, Courage, and Engagement.



Sponsors who donate $120 annually or $10 monthly to the Merit Scholarship Program will receive an annual letter from their student. We match students to sponsors from a pool of students who have been selected into the Merit Scholarship, but do not have a sponsor yet. These students are supported through 12th grade by VietHope until we find sponsors.