What is a National Scholar?


The National Merit Scholarship Program is an academic competition for U.S. high school students, where scholars, finalists and semifinalists receive recognition for their academic excellence and scholarships to fund their college education. 

If your student is interested in entering the National Merit Scholarship competition, it’s a fairly simple process. Your student will likely take the PSAT during their third or junior year of high school; when your student plans to graduate from high school will affect what year they should take the PSAT in order to qualify for the National Merit program.

Student scores are evaluated, and semifinalists, finalists and scholars are selected based on the students’ academic records, PSAT score, and other skills and accomplishments. 

If your student is selected as a semifinalist, they can advance to finalist standing by completing a scholarship application, having a high academic record, writing an essay and being endorsed by a school official. From the finalist pool, the winners are selected. Even if your student does not advance all the way to National Scholar status, they will still be recognized for their achievements as a semifinalist or finalist. 

National Merit Scholars receive a $2,500 scholarship, and can also receive corporate-sponsored or college-sponsored scholarships depending on if they qualify.

The National Merit Scholarship Program’s mission is to celebrate and spotlight academically excellent students. If this is something your student would like to be a part of, encourage them to study hard for the PSAT so they can get the best score possible. 

To learn more about this program, visit the National Merit Scholars website.