National Merit Scholarship Program

Junior year high school students who take the PSAT test and meet the cutoff score (varies by state and from year-to-year) can begin the application process for the National Merit Scholarship Program.


  • take the PSAT/NMSQT® in third year of high school
  • be enrolled in high school and planning to enroll full time in college by the fall following high school graduation; and
  • be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident


Approximately 8,200 Finalists receive one of three kinds of Merit Scholarship awards.

  • One-time National Merit <dollar/>2,500 award
  • Corporate-sponsored awards
  • College-sponsored awards ranging from <dollar/>500 to <dollar/>2,000 per year.

About 1,500 outstanding participants who are not Finalists get Special Scholarships.

Students who meet the cutoff score (about 16,000 students) are notified in early September of their senior year that they have qualified as semifinalists. After completing an application, most of the semifinalists (about 15,000) are notified in February that they have advanced to finalist standing.

More information can be found at the website.

See also