Note: This press release was distributed to news media on September 10 with
a list of Semifi nalists to encourage public recognition of these outstanding
students. The release is made available here to provide information about the
National Merit Scholarship Program, however the names of Semifi nalists are
not posted on this website.
Semifi nalists in the 2020 National Merit® Scholarship Program
(Evanston, Illinois) Today offi cials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC)
announced the names of approximately 16,000 Semifi nalists in the 65th annual National Merit
Scholarship Program. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to
continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31
million that will be off ered next spring. To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award,
Semifi nalists must fulfi ll several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition.
Over 90 percent of the Semifi nalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half
of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.
NMSC, a not-for-profi t organization that operates without government assistance, was
established in 1955 specifi cally to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 400 business
organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s
scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.
-moreCaution: Using numbers of Semifi nalists to compare high schools, educational systems, or
states will result in erroneous conclusions. The National Merit® Scholarship Program honors
individual students who show exceptional academic ability and potential for success in rigorous
college studies. The program does not measure the quality or eff ectiveness of education within
a school, system, or state. For more information about the competition, please visit NMSC’s
website at www.nationalmerit.org.
NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP CORPORATION
1560 Sherman Avenue, Suite 200, Evanston, Illinois 60201-4897 (847) 866-5100
Contact: Eileen Artemakis or Matthew Budreau Phone: (847) 866-5100
Public Information Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Semifi nalists in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program
Steps in the 2020 Competition
Over 1.5 million juniors in about 21,000 high schools entered the 2020 National Merit
Scholarship Program by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying
Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide
pool of Semifi nalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the
highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifi nalists in a state is proportional to the
state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
To become a Finalist, the Semifi nalist and a high school offi cial must submit a detailed
scholarship application, in which they provide information about the Semifi nalist’s academic record,
participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment,
and honors and awards received. A Semifi nalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school offi cial, write an essay, and earn
SAT® or ACT® scores that confi rm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 Semifi nalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance
to the Finalist level, and in February they will be notifi ed of this designation. All National Merit
Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists. Merit Scholar designees are
selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college
studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.
National Merit Scholarships
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be off ered in the spring of 2020. Every
Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on
a state-representational basis. About 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be
provided by approximately 220 corporations and business organizations for Finalists who meet their
specifi ed criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where
sponsor plants or offi ces are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected
to fi nance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the
National Merit Scholarship winners of 2020 will be announced in four nationwide news
releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join more than
345,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.