About National Merit Scholarship Corporation
Established in 1955, National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) is an independent, not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. NMSC is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and contributions to NMSC are tax deductible by the donor. NMSC conducts the National Merit® Scholarship Program, an annual academic competition for recognition and college undergraduate scholarships. Additionally, from 1965 to 2015, NMSC conducted the National Achievement® Scholarship Program, an academic competition for Black American high school students. (See the National Achievement Scholarship Program page for information about the program and its history.)
NMSC's goals have remained constant since its inception:
- to identify and honor academically talented U.S. high school students
- to stimulate increased support for their education
- to provide efficient and effective program management for organizations who wish to sponsor college undergraduate scholarships
Through these endeavors, NMSC, which is committed to maintaining the highest standards, has earned a reputation for quality and integrity.
Since its founding, NMSC has recognized over 3.3 million students and provided some 432,000 scholarships worth over $1.7 billion. The honors awarded by NMSC to exceptionally able students are viewed as definitive marks of excellence. Recipients of Merit Scholarship® awards, Achievement Scholarship® awards, and corporate-sponsored Special Scholarships have increased the nation's respect for intellectual accomplishments and have contributed significantly to its talent pool of future leaders.
How to receive a National Merit Scholarship
The competition will span about 18 months from entry in the fall of the student's junior year until the spring of the student's senior year when scholarships for college undergraduate study will be awarded. It is expected that about 4 million students will take the PSAT/NMSQT in 2019, and approximately 1.6 million of them will meet requirements to enter this program.
- Take the PSAT/NMSQT in October of the student's junior year and meet all entry requirements. To see the latest entry requirements, visit nationalmerit.org.
- In September of the student's senior year, 16,000 Semifinalists are notified and their names are released to media.
- Between September and October of the student's senior year, Semifinalists and their high schools electronically submit National Merit Scholarship Applications using the Online Scholarship Application (OSA); Semifinalists make arrangements for reporting of SAT® or ACT® scores.
- In either January or February of the student's senior year, 15,000 Semifinalists advance to Finalist standing; their Certificates of Merit are sent to high schools and selection of Merit Scholar® awardees begins. Semifinalists who do not advance to Finalist standing notified.
- Between March and June of the student's senior year, 7,600 Merit Scholar designees notified. Finalists not selected as Merit Scholarship® winners notified.
- During that time, 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarship winners are notified, 1,000 corporatesponsored Merit Scholarship winners are notified, and 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship winners are notified.
For the current and complete explanation of steps, requirements, and dates for the competition, see pages 1–3 of the Information document and the Requirements and Instructions for Semifinalists document. Both documents can be found at www.nationalmerit.org/resources and in the “Competition Instructions” section of the OSA.