National Merit Scholarship Program

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 10, 2008 | Go to article overview

National Merit Scholarship Program


Today, officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifinalists in the 54th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,200 National Merit[R] Scholarships, worth more than $35 million, that will be offered next spring.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship[R] award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition.

About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and approximately half the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar[R] title.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 500 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSCs goals of honoring the nations scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

More than 1.5 million juniors in more than 21,000 high schools entered the 2009 National Merit Program by taking the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants.

The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the states percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, a semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by the high school principal and earn SAT scores that confirm the students earlier performance on the qualifying test.

The semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the students self-descriptive essay and information about the semifinalists participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Approximately 15,000 semifinalists are expected to advance to the finalist level and it is from this group that all National Merit Scholarship winners will be chosen.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Three types of National Merit Scholarship awards will be offered in the spring of 2009. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis.

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