National Merit Scholarship~PSAT/SAT

The National Merit® Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®)—which serves as an initial screen of approximately 1.6 million entrants each year—and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.

Students who plan to spend four years in high school (grades 9 through 12) before entering college full time must take the PSAT/NMSQT in their third year (grade 11, junior year). They will be entering the competition that ends when awards are offered in the spring of their fourth high school year (grade 12, senior year), the same year they will leave high school and enter college.

Types of Merit Scholarship® Awards

Beginning in March and continuing to mid-June, NMSC notifies approximately 7,500 Finalists at their home addresses that they have been selected to receive a Merit Scholarship® award. Merit Scholarship awards are of three types:

  • National Merit® $2500 Scholarships
    • Every Finalist competes for these single payment scholarships, which are awarded on a state-representational basis. Winners are selected without consideration of family financial circumstances, college choice, or major and career plans.
  • Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards
    • Corporate sponsors designate their awards for children of their employees or members, for residents of a community where a company has operations, or for Finalists with career plans the sponsor wishes to encourage. These scholarships may either be renewable for four years of undergraduate study or one-time awards.
  • College-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards
    • Officials of each sponsor college select winners of their awards from Finalists who have been accepted for admission and have informed NMSC by the published deadlines that the sponsor college or university is their first choice. These awards are renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study. The published deadlines for reporting a sponsor college as first choice can be viewed on page 3 of the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists in the 2019 National Merit®Scholarship Program. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.)