National Merit Scholarship Program

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a college scholarship competition administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). NMSC awards National Merit Scholarships based on a competition that includes taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The program began in 1955.

As of 2005, of the 1.3 million entrants, about 50,000 qualify for recognition. Two-thirds of those qualified receive letters of commendation; the remainder become semifinalists, most of whom go on to become finalists. Over half of the finalists go on to receive scholarships sponsored by colleges or corporations.