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Each year, more than 10,000 high school students receive prestigious National Merit academic scholarships. The non-profit National Merit Scholarship Corporation has been recognizing outstanding high school students with college scholarships since 1955. Currently, the organization awards more than $50 million in college scholarships to high achieving high school seniors each year.
In order to be considered for the National Merit scholarship program, students must take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) by their third year of high school and plan to enroll in college during the fall semester following high school graduation. Students with the 50,000 highest test scores are recognized as commended student or semi-finalists. The field is narrowed to finalists, who are selected for monetary scholarship awards. Finalists may receive scholarships directly from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, corporate-sponsored Merit scholarships, or college-sponsored awards.