Updated January 2, 2017 – Updates in red.
National Merit Finalists are the ones who usually get all the glory and the full ride scholarships. There are not as many major scholarships for National Merit Semi-Finalists. But that doesn’t mean National Merit Semi-Finalists are overlooked.
If your high school Junior didn’t make it to National Merit Finalist status, but was named a National Merit Semi-Finalist, there are still many good scholarship opportunities available to him or her. There are small scholarship amounts automatically given to semi-finalists by colleges around the country. But even better, there are colleges that offer major merit scholarships to National Merit Semi-Finalists.
On my Full Scholarship List, there are 34 scholarships awarded to National Merit Semi-Finalists and most of these are full tuition or better.
According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, approximately 16,000 students qualify as National Merit Semi-Finalists each year. For complete details on how the competition works, click on the link above for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. About 1.5 million students each year take the PSAT/NMSQT test each year to enter the National Merit Scholarship competition. That means the top 1% or so of all students taking the test achieve the Semi-Finalist status. This is no small accomplishment!
National Merit Semi-Finalists will surely be disappointed if they don’t make it to the Finalist level, but they should take at least a moment to celebrate the accomplishment of being among the top 1% of all the test takers. Then they should go searching for great merit scholarship opportunities.
Among the schools offering full tuition or better to National Merit Semi-Finalists are the following:
- University of Alabama
- Harding University
- University of Maine
- University of Mississippi
My Full Scholarship List provides details on all 34 opportunities available to National Merit Semi-Finalists, as well as other major scholarship opportunities based on GPA and ACT/SAT scores that Semi-Finalists may also be eligible for. The majority of major scholarships listed on the Full Scholarship List are automatic or competitive merit scholarships based on GPA and test score qualifications, so students making it to National Merit Semi-Finalist status will qualify for many of these.
In addition to scholarships offered to Semi-Finalists directly by colleges, there are also what the National Merit Scholarship Corporation calls Special Scholarships. Here is what nationalmerit.org says about those:
Every year some 1,200 National Merit® Program participants, who are outstanding but not Finalists, are awarded Special Scholarships provided by corporations and business organizations. To be considered for a Special Scholarship, students must meet the sponsor’s criteria and the entry requirements of the National Merit Scholarship Program. They also must submit an entry form to the sponsor organization. Subsequently, NMSC contacts a pool of high-scoring candidates through their respective high schools. These students and their school officials submit detailed scholarship applications. NMSC’s professional staff evaluates information about candidates’ abilities, skills, and accomplishments and chooses winners of the sponsor’s Special Scholarships. These scholarships may either be renewable for four years of undergraduate study or one-time awards.
These can be more difficult to find, but your high school counseling office should be able to help.