Everything You Need to Know About the National Merit Scholarship

In Paying for College on May 11, 2016

The school year may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about scholarships! If you will be entering your junior year, the National Merit Scholarship is a great program to keep in mind. Any US citizen or permanent resident who takes the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall may have the potential to be eligible for this scholarship.

The National Merit Scholarship Program was founded to honor talented students and push them to fully develop those skills. That being said, the competition is tough. Roughly 1.5 million high school juniors take the PSAT/NMSQT in the fall and about 50,000 of those students qualify for a scholarship. That means only about 3 percent of the test takers will qualify. From that group, winners will be chosen based on their skills, extracurriculars and potential for success in college and beyond.

Those who qualify for a National Merit Scholarship may receive one of the following awards:

  1. National Merit $2,500 Scholarships: These scholarships are awarded on a state-representational basis.
  2. Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships: These awards are designated by corporate sponsors for the children of their employees or members.
  3. College-sponsored Merit Scholarships: These awards are presented by sponsor colleges to students who have been accepted for admission to that school, and have notified the NMSC by the deadline their first choice is that specific school. These awards are renewable for up to four years of study.
  4. Special Scholarships: Every year, the National Merit Program awards scholarships to 1,200 program participants who outstanding, but not finalists. These awards are provided by various corporations and businesses. Students must meet the sponsor’s criteria and general entry requirements for the National Merit Scholarship Program in order to be eligible for these awards.

Since these awards are competitive make sure you assemble a fantastic application, research any ties you may have to sponsor corporations and indicate a sponsor college as your top choice to increase your chances at securing a scholarship!

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