90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain finalist
standing, and approximately half of the finalists will win a National
Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title.
than 1.5 million juniors in over 21,000 high schools entered the 2009
National Merit Program by taking the 2007 Preliminary SAT/National
Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), 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 state's
percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
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 student's
earlier performance on the qualifying test. The Semifinalist and a high
school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which
includes the student's self-descriptive essay and information about the
semifinalist's participation and leadership in school and community
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 $2500
Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis.
About 1,100 corporate-sponsored scholarships will be provided by some
300 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet
their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor's employees
or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are
located. In addition, approximately 200 colleges and universities are
expected to finance some 4,600 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship
awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.
Merit Scholarship Corporation (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
NMSC's goals of honoring the nation's scholastic champions and
encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.