Katie Hearn Scholar of National Merit
Katie Hearne

National Merit Semi-Finalist

Brazoswood Choir Officer

National Merit Scholars

Semifinalists in the 50th annual National Merit Scholarship Program were announced today by officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). These 16,000 scholastically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 8,200 Merit Scholarship® awards, worth $33.9 million, that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements and advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to become Finalists, and approximately half of the Finalists will be selected as Merit Scholarship winners.

Founded in 1955 to conduct the annual Merit Scholarship competition, NMSC is a not for-profit organization that operates without government assistance. Scholarships awarded through the National Merit Program are underwritten by approximately 500 business organizations and higher education institutions as well as by NMSC’s own funds. Independent sponsors have provided scholarships through the National Merit Program beginning with the first awards offered in 1956, supporting NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

Competition Steps

More than 1.3 million juniors in nearly 21,000 U.S. high schools entered the 2005 National Merit Program by taking the 2003 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The Semifinalists in the 2005 National Merit Scholarship Program 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.

To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist must have an academic record of very high performance, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier qualifying test performance. The Semifinalist and a school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the student’s selfdescriptive essay and information about the Semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Approximately 15,000 Semifinalists will advance to the Finalist level and it is from this group that all Merit Scholarship winners will be chosen. Merit Scholar® designees are selected on the basis of their accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

Merit Scholarship Awards

Three types of Merit Scholarship awards will be offered in 2005. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. In addition, some 300 corporations and business organizations will underwrite about 1,100 corporate-sponsored scholarships 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. Also, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,600 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsoring institution.

Merit Scholarship winners of 2005 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than 226,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.