Updated: Apr 16
For those of you interested in knowing what colleges offer merit scholarships to National Merit Semi-Finalists and Finalists, please find below a comprehensive list that I developed by visiting the websites of all the official NMSC college partners. I have also included a quick overview of the process below the list of colleges that offer additional scholarships to National Merit semi-finalists and finalists and the links to each of the college websites.
List of Colleges that offer scholarships in addition to the National Merit Scholarship Award: Please note that this is a list of additional merit scholarships offered by colleges such as full tuition or full cost of attendance in addition to the National Merit Scholarship award of $500 to $2500.
Important Disclaimer Note: All information on the Google Sheet below is an estimate, based on information obtained previously from college websites from 2020 and should only be used as a summary of possible awards with no guarantee of accuracy. All details including award amount, first choice, guarantee and specifics must be verified directly with the specific college's admissions or financial aid office before using this information in any way including applying for NMS finalist or applying to a college. This additional verification should be done by the reader to ensure that the information has not been changed or updated since this list was built.
Google Sheet with list of colleges that offer additional scholarship to National Merit semi finalists and finalists - https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e48Ea4v4apCghsn1tMKGkJfeFYmooyIghvKL-QhJRnI/edit?usp=sharing
If you have any comments or feedback about the Google Sheet or this article, please send me an email at email@example.com with your comments.
How does the National Merit Scholarship work?
Step 1: Complete the PSAT exam offered by the school in your junior year or if you weren't able to test in your school, you can send in an alternate SAT score that will qualify you based on the selection index score of your SAT test.
Step 2: Every state within the US has a specific cutoff score that will be announced with the results in the Fall of the senior year for that student. There is also a cutoff score for US schools outside the US.
Step 3: In Fall of senior year, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation(NMSC) will contact the schools to let them know if a student is a semi-finalist or a commended student. This happens in Sept of senior year. The school principal or school official then notifies the student of the National Merit standing- either commended or semi-finalist status.
Step 4: If the student is a semi-finalist, he/she has 3 to 4 weeks to submit the Finalist application since the deadline to submit the NM Finalist application in Oct of senior year. The application usually includes an essay prompt.
For the class of 2022, the finalist application essay prompt is expected to be:
“Describe an experience you have had, a person who has influenced you, or an obstacle you have overcome. Explain why this is meaningful to you”
No word limit exists, but in the past students have tried to keep essay to 600–650 words.
When filling out the finalist application, the student can leave the first college choice as "Undecided" if the student is not sure about which college to choose as first choice. This could be because the student has not yet been accepted to the college. You can go in and change your first choice later.
Choosing your first choice college for National Merit Application: Be sure to use the time after submitting your finalist application to correspond with colleges and find out if you are guaranteed to receive the National Merit scholarship if you choose that college as your first choice. This will help you make your decision on which college to choose as first choice and you can make that choice once you are accepted to a college and receive confirmation from the college that they "guarantee" all finalists a scholarship amount and you are happy with that scholarship amount. Some colleges do not guarantee the scholarship to all national merit finalists. So its important to check with each college about their policy before you finally mark your first choice.
Step 5: If the student is selected as a National Merit Finalist, the student will be notified in February 2021.
Step 6: Once the student is selected as finalist in February, the student should choose a college as "First Choice" before the list of first choices is sent out to colleges on March 1st so that the college can see that the student has opted for their college as first choice.
Step 7: If the student has not made up their mind about first choice college, they have a second chance to submit their first choice before May 1st of senior year when the final list of first choices are sent to all the colleges.
There are students who finally don't use the scholarship and just go to a college that offers no scholarship to National Merit Scholars. This is really dependent on the student. Please note that highly selective colleges do not offer scholarships to National Merit Scholars because most of the students applying are students with high academic caliber. But the National Merit Semi-finalist is a sought after title and may help the student stand out in the application process.
For more information about the National Merit Scholarship process, please visit the https://www.nationalmerit.org/s/1758/interior.aspx?sid=1758&gid=2&pgid=424
Good luck with your national merit application process!