National Merit Scholarship

Let’s s The National Merit Scholarship is a scholarship program available to U.S. high school students (that’s the “national” part), including students who are in high school in the U.S., the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, or who are U.S. citizens going to high school abroad. Home-school students are also eligible.



The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an opportunity for US high school students to receive money to help them pay for post-secondary education. While the program does provide students with funds, becoming a National Merit Scholar is also indicative of extraordinary academic achievement. Students who become National Merit Scholar finalists can use that title in their college applications, which could give them a considerable advantage. National Merit Scholars may also receive other benefits, including renewable college-specific scholarships and corporate-sponsored scholarships to help with career advancement. There are many other scholarships available that can also help high school students succeed.

What is a National Merit Scholar in practice? Because the application process for the National Merit Scholarship Program is very straightforward, many students enter but very few win. According to the NMSC, the scholarship typically receives around 1.5 million applicants each year. Of those, 50,000 with the highest scores are selected for recognition, and 34,000 of those students will receive a Letter of Commendation for their efforts, which can help them with their upcoming college applications. The remaining 16,000 students become Semifinalists. Most of those students (around 15,000) will then become Finalists. Winners are chosen from the group of Finalists, and 7,250 winners receive monetary scholarships and are officially considered Merit Scholars.

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