How To Apply For USA National Merit Scholarship For All Students | 2023

Ever heard about the National Merit Scholarship Program? Are you wondering how it works and would like to know if you are qualified to apply? Here you will have answers to all these questions and others you may have about the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Scholarships are financial aids, support, that are given to students to meet academic financial or material needs, based on criteria such as academic achievement, or any other criteria set by the sponsors such as community involvement, areas of study, financial need and departmental involvement.

Benefits of Scholarship includes;

  • It provides networking opportunities
  • Takes away financial burdens and also help take care of future academic debt
  • Creates access to education for many that may have missed out due to lack of the required financial strength
  • It makes your resume unique, standing out, while also magnifying your achievement, especially when it is a merit based scholarship
  • Scholarship allows a student to give undivided attention to his or her academic works. No need to work while studying with scholarship as educational financial demands are taken care of already.

About National Merit Scholarship Program

There are many scholarship opportunity options in the United States, serving people of various class, skills, knowledge level, brilliance nations, races, disciplines and so on.

Some of the scholarship opportunities are listed to residents and citizens, while many are open to international students. Academically the United States is adjudged as one of the most accommodating nations for international students.


Based in Illinois, Evanston to be precise, the NMSC is a not for profit, privately funded organization. Every year, the organization conducts competition for scholarship and recognition.

Apart from the National Merit Scholarship Program, NMSC also runs the National Achievement Scholarship Program, a scholarship program meant for African-American students. It was established in 1964.

The National Merit Scholarship Program is open to all students that meets its qualifications and entry requirements. The highest achievers in the National Merit Scholarship are designated as National Merit Scholars.

The extracurricular achievements of semifinalists are also well recognized. About 4.6 million students took the PSAT/NMSQT in the last year, out of which about 7,500 ended up being selected as finalist/National Merit scholars.

Types of Scholarships Awarded in the National Merit Scholarship Program

There are three types of Scholarship that are awarded to finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program, while special scholarships are also awarded to non-finalist outstanding students that meet the criteria of a corporate sponsor.


The three awards that are offered to finalists are;

  • College sponsored merit scholarship awards,
  • Corporate sponsored merit scholarship awards and
  • National Merit $2,500 scholarship.

Finalists who have been offered scholarship award are notified between the beginning of March and ending of June. The high school principals of the concerned scholar’s school is also notified.

About the NMSC Special Scholarships

The NMSC Special Scholarship is a corporate scholarship award. For an individual to be considered for this offer, he/she must meet the sponsor’s criteria and the NMSC entry requirements.

National Merit Scholarship Program Eligibility Requirements

It is sure you will need to have knowledge of the eligibility requirement of a scholarship program to be able to prepare and apply for it. You will know the documents to make available, the preparatory steps to be taken, exams to scale, and so on.

Here we have the eligibility criteria of the national merit scholarship program. Carefully read through to know if you are qualified or otherwise. Perhaps it may even be a perfect fit for someone you know.

  • You must be enrolled as a full High School student, must have good academic standing and be ready to accept college admission during the fall that follows high school completion.
  • You must take the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT)/ Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT). This must be in the specified year of the High School program, and must not be later than third year in grade 9 through 12. Generally, what this means is that you should take the test during the fall time of the junior year.
  • You must attend high school in the District of Columbia, or the United States, or a United States Territory and Commonwealth. Also, you may be a permanent resident of the United States attending a high school, or be a US citizen. If you fall into any of these categories of people listed, then you met this qualification.

These are the major qualifications that needs to be met in order to be eligible to apply for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Other Tips To Become A Scholar In The National Merit Scholarship Program

To apply successfully and stand a good chance of being one of the winners of the National Merit Scholarship, here are a few other tips of goals to achieve and steps to take;

  • Get a great PSAT score. Try to be one of the top 1% best scorers in your state. One of the ways to achieve this is to start your preparation for the PSAT early and well.
  • Even though the NMSC does not suggest a cut-off for this, be sure to get a good Scholastic Admission Test (SAT) score. It will help in confirming your PSAT score performance.
  • Being in the top 1% should be enough to guaranty you a semifinalist position in the NMSC. It is a remarkable achievement of which about 16,000 high school students get honored to be in every year. It qualifies you to submit application to become a NMSC finalist. This application includes; letter of recommendation (preferably from the principal of your high school), a personal essay about an obstacle you have overcome or an experience you have had, and your high school transcript or any other relevant academic record.
  • Make your semifinalist application as strong as possible. Once it is, you are sure to become a NMSC finalist.

National Merit Scholarship Amount

The NMSC amount is $2,500. Apart from the monetary benefit, the prestige that surrounds being a finalist of this scholarship is unprecedented.

Also, an approximate 7,500 students are selected as scholars.

Final Words

If at the end of the whole process, you are among the National Merit Scholarship finalist, you will be notified in February of your senior years. You school will also get notified, and certificate of merit will be sent to your principal to be presented to you.


If you are qualified to apply for NMSC, give it a good shot. It’s not impossible. Also, make sure to share this piece for others’ benefit.

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