The National Merit Scholarship was first established in 1955 to provide students with the opportunity to get a higher education. The National Merit Scholarship Corporation or the NMSC is responsible for offering the scholarship and is considered a non-profit organization, which means all funds are directly donated and the program does not receive any government assistance.
The National Merit Scholarship is an annual award that is gifted to students who prove themselves and are chosen to win. The goal of the program has remained consistent since 1955 and that is to honor and identify high school students in the US who are academically talented, to help support their dream of an education, and to help provide individuals and corporations with the proper management to sponsor undergraduate students.
The NMSC has received some of the highest honors for upholding and maintaining integrity and quality over the years. It is an honor for students to be awarded the National Merit Scholarship. Since 1955, the NMSC has provided three million students with an award and has issued over 407,000 scholarships worth more than $1.6 billion.
Since 1956, participation in the National Merit Scholarship has increased. In fact, in 1956 there were roughly 58,000 students who submitted an application and there were roughly 10,300 participating high schools. As of 2015, there were about 1,477,000 student applicants and roughly 22,200 high schools that participated.
Just as the number of entrants and schools participating have increased, so have the number of scholarships awarded. In 1956, 555 Merit Scholarships were awarded and in 2005, 8,249 Merit Scholarships were handed out.
Below, we will go over some more information about how to apply for the scholarship, the requirements, and more.
About the National Merit Scholarship
Students who wish to participate in the National Merit Scholarship will need to meet some basic requirements to be able to apply and be selected as a winner.
All students are required to take the PSAT/NMSQT test no later than their third year in high school. If a student fails to take this test, they will not be able to apply for the scholarship. For example, the 2015 PSAT/NMSQT test was the qualifying test for the 2017 school year. Deadlines and test dates are set by individual schools and not on a student by student basis.
All applicants must be a high school student who is currently enrolled in classes and moving toward graduation. Students can attend a traditional school or be homeschooled and should plan to enroll in college full time.
Lastly, students must be a US citizen or at minimum be a lawful permanent resident.
It is important that students pay attention on the PSAT/NMSQT test as the questions will help to determine if the student is eligible for the scholarship.
The National Merit Scholarship will be awarded to student winners and the amount of the scholarship is $2,500. Since this is NOT a financial based scholarship and is only merit based, the winners are not chosen based on the family’s financial need. All payments for the scholarship are made one time.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation does like to recognize all exceptional students and those students who are not chosen for the scholarship can still receive a special scholarship. These scholarships are issued as they are available and students will need to meet the criteria set forth by the sponsor.