The National Merit Scholarship Process


From the class of 2003, West Geauga High School has 9 students who have been invited to participate in the scholarship competition sponsored by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.


Commended Scholars: Julie Javorek; Karl Lafavre: Jessica Matsko; Patricia Ross


National Merit Semi-Finalists: Victor Cizek Paul Goehrke; Sonia Jakse; Andrew Socha; Halle Thompson


Of 1.3 million annual entrants, some 50,000 with the highest PSAT/NMSQT Selection Index scores (verbal + math + writing skills scores) qualify for recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program.  In April following the fall test administration, high-scoring participants from every state will be invited to name two colleges or universities to which they would like to be referred by NMSC.  In September, these high scorers will be notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a Commended Student or Semifinalist.

Commended Students

In late September, more than two-thirds or about 34,000 of the approximately 50,000 high scorers on the PSAT/NMSQT will receive Letters of Commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise, but they will not continue in the competition for Merit Scholarship awards. Some of these students, however, will be candidates for Special Scholarships sponsored by corporations and businesses.


In early September, about 16,000 students or approximately a third of the 50,000 high scorers, will be notified that they have qualified as Semifinalists. To ensure that academically able young people from all parts of the United States are included in this talent pool, Semifinalists are designated on a state representational basis.  NMSC will provide scholarship application materials to Semifinalists through their high schools.  Semifinalists must advance to Finalist standing in the competition to be considered for a Merit Scholarship award.



In February, Semifinalists who meet academic and all other requirements will be notified that they have advanced to Finalist standing. All winners of Merit Scholarship awards (Merit ScholarSM designees) will be chosen from the Finalist group, based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments.

Merit ScholarSM Designees

Beginning in March, NMSC will notify approximately 8,000 Finalists that they have been selected to receive Merit Scholarship awards. Merit Scholarship awards are of three types:

Merit Scholarship awards are supported by some 550 independent sponsors and by NMSC's own funds. Sponsor organizations include corporations and businesses, company foundations, professional associations, and colleges and universities.  Corporate and business sponsors also provide some 1,600 Special Scholarships each year.