National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are the Finalists in each state judged to have the strongest combination of accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies. They were selected by a committee of college admissions offi cers and high school counselors. These Scholars may use their awards at any regionally accredited U.S. college or university.
NMSC fi nances most of these single-payment National Merit $2500 Scholarships. Corporations and company foundations that sponsor awards through NMSC also help underwrite these scholarships with grants they provide in lieu of paying administrative fees.
All Finalists competed for these awards. To select scholarship winners, a committee of educators appraised a substantial amount of information submitted by both the Finalists and their high schools: the academic record, including diffi culty level of subjects studied and grades earned; scores from two standardized tests; contributions and leadership in school and community activities; an essay written by the Finalist; and the recommendation written by a high school offi cial. The number of winners named in each state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the nation’s high school graduating seniors.
2011 National Merit Scholarship Competition
This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2009 when approximately 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the state’s seniors, were named Semifi nalists on a state representational basis. Only the 16,000 Semifi nalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition.
From the Semifi nalist group, 15,000 met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. By the conclusion of the 2011 program, about 7,800 Finalists will have earned the “Merit Scholar” title and received a total of nearly $35 million in college scholarships.
NMSC, a not-for-profi t corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifi cally to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The majority of scholarships offered each year are underwritten by approximately 440 independent corporate and college sponsors that share NMSC’s goals of honoring scholastically talented youth and enhancing their educational opportunities.