Last month, National Merit Finalists were notified of their advancement, with about 15,000 of the 16,000 Semifinalists nationwide becoming Finalists. Finalists are not announced publicly because 90 percent of Semifinalists move on as Finalists. Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program (NMSP) qualify by placing in the top 50,000 of the 1.6 million students who take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) each year. Around two-thirds of the 50,000 students receive a letter of commendation. They do not continue through the NMSP but can qualify for certain scholarships.
The other one-third of high scoring students become National Merit Semifinalists. West High had 21 Semifinalists, 20 of which went on to become Finalists. To qualify as National Merit Finalists, students must be recommended by a school official, have consistently high grades, have the school give the NMSC their full school records, submit an application from NMSC’s Online Scholarship Application and take the SAT.
Half of the 15,000 National Merit Finalists become Merit Scholarship award winners. The winners will be notified anywhere from March to June. There are three types of awards Merit Scholars can receive: National Merit $2500 Scholarships, Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards and College-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards. Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards vary by amount, whether or not they are annual and how many are given out. College-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards can be renewed and are between $500 and $2000 a year. These scholarships are awarded to students who will attend a college that sponsors the NMSC.
The NMSC will publicly announce scholarship winners between April and July.