Last week, I wrote about what ACT or SAT score can earn your student a full-ride scholarship. This week, I am going to focus on another source of full-ride scholarships – National Merit Finalists. In my research regarding full-ride scholarships, I have found that there is a growing trend away from giving full-ride or even full-tuition scholarships to National Merit Finalists. However, there are still some schools out there that do this. They tend to be less competitive and/or lesser known schools.
You may be wondering, how hard is it to be a National Merit Finalist? It’s very difficult! 1.5 million students take the PSAT/NMSQT test every year. Only about 16,000 students across the country are named semi-finalists. About 15,000 of those students are named finalists. To become a semi-finalist, a student needs to be a top scorer on the PSAT/NMSQT test for his or her state, when taken the junior year of high school. Each state will have its own cutoff score, so a score that would make semi-finals in one state may not be high enough in another state.
Here are a few of the colleges where national merit finalists get full-ride or full-tuition scholarships:
- University of Alabama – flagship campus, Birmingham and Hunstville
- Auburn University
- University of Alaska – Anchorage (full tuition only)
- University of Arkansas (flagship campus) – full tuition + $10,000 per year
- Arizona State University (full tuition)
- University of Arizona (full tuition + $1,500 for study abroad)
- Florida A&M (full tuition + fees)
- Florida International University (full tuition, fees & housing)
- University of Idaho
- Iowa State University (full tuition, only for in-state students)
- University of Kansas (full tuition + fees, only for in-state students)
- Wichita State University (Kansas)
- University of Kentucky
- University of Louisville (Kentucky)
These are just a few of the schools that still offer large scholarships to National Merit Finalists. There are some others out there.
What if your student doesn’t make the National Merit Finalist category, but is a National Merit Semi-Finalist? A small number of schools will offer full-tuition to National Merit Semi-Finalists, including:
- University of Alabama (must have 3.5 or higher GPA)
- Auburn University (in-state students only)
- Faulkner University (Alabama)
- Oakwood University (Alabama)
- University of Central Arkansas
- Southern Arkansas University
- Harding University (Arkansas)
- Florida A&M
- Florida Atlantic University
- Florida College
I am still working on compiling a full list of all schools that offer full tuition to full ride scholarships for national merit finalists and semi-finalists and plan to have that available by the end of 2013. Update – The Full Scholarship List is now available.