National Merit Scholarship Corporation, By Ryan Hoadley

Since 1955, the nonprofit National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) has provided financial assistance for academically gifted students, offered a streamlined scholarship management system for institutions and organizations, and promoted education and a regard for learning. Throughout the years, the NMSC has helped nearly three million students and provided over $1.4 billion in scholarship aid.

The NMSC offers both the National Merit Scholarship Program and the National Achievement Scholarship Program. To enter these competitions, students must take the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test no later than their junior year of high school as well as satisfy additional participation requirements, such as an excellent academic record, extracurricular activities, and demonstrated leadership abilities.

Out of 1.5 million candidates, approximately 8,300 students are awarded Merit Scholarships each year. Three types of Merit Scholarships are conferred: the National Merit $2,500 Scholarship, which is granted without regard to a student’s economic circumstances, college selection, or major and career objectives; corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships, that allow corporate benefactors to authorize awards for their employees’ and members’ children, for students with vocational goals the company supports, or for students in the geographic area in which the business operates; and college-sponsored Merit Scholarships, which are offered to admitted students by officials from sponsoring schools.

Begun in 1964, the National Achievement Scholarship Program recognizes the academic accomplishments of African-American students. Each year, 800 students receive this scholarship. The program’s requirements are the same as the National Merit program, but it is independently managed and financed.

About the Author:
Ryan Hoadley is an analyst at a New York-based hedge fund. Mr. Hoadley earned recognition as a National Merit Scholar Commended Student and graduated with high distinction from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business.