National Merit Scholarship Program 2024 Application, Requirements, and Deadline

Scholarships can make a significant difference when it comes to pursuing higher education, and one of the most prestigious scholarships in the United States is the National Merit Scholarship Program.


If you’re an academically driven high school student or a parent looking for opportunities to alleviate the financial burden of college, you’ve come to the right place.


In this article, we’ll discuss the National Merit Scholarship Program 2024-25, from its significance in the academic landscape to the application requirements, PSAT score requirements, and the all-important application deadline. Read on to discover how to secure this prestigious scholarship and pave the way for your future academic success.

National Merit Scholarship Program Overview

The National Merit Scholarship Program is a distinguished academic competition that recognizes and rewards outstanding high school students in the United States. Established over six decades ago, this program has become a symbol of academic excellence, allowing students to pursue higher education without the burden of excessive student loans.

Each year, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) administers the program, encompassing various scholarships, including National Merit Scholarships, Corporate-Sponsored Scholarships, and College-Sponsored Scholarships.

These scholarships, which are in high demand, are granted to students who demonstrate exceptional performance in their academic endeavors, particularly on the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test).

National merit scholarship program

The Importance of the National Merit Scholarship Program 

The National Merit Scholarship Program holds immense importance in the academic world for several reasons:

1. Academic Recognition: Being named a National Merit Scholar or Finalist is a prestigious honor recognizing a student’s exceptional academic achievements and potential.

2. Financial Assistance: Winning a National Merit Scholarship can significantly reduce the financial challenges of attending college, as these scholarships often cover a substantial portion of tuition and related expenses.

3. Opportunities: National Merit Scholars are highly sought-after by colleges and universities, which may offer additional merit-based aid or preferential admission consideration.

4. Career Advancement: This program’s recognition and financial support can set the stage for a successful academic and professional career.

5. Encouragement of Excellence: The program encourages high school students to strive for academic excellence, fostering a culture of educational achievement.

Requirements for National Merit Scholarship Program 2024-25

Students must meet certain requirements to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Here are the essential application requirements:

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT: The first and most crucial step is to take the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) during the specified year of eligibility. Typically, this is taken during a student’s junior year of high school (11th grade). Students must take the test in the year designated by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).
  • Be a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident: To be eligible, students must be either U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
  • Enroll in a Participating High School: Students must be enrolled as high school students who plan to graduate and attend college in the United States, including students in U.S. territories and students attending U.S. schools abroad.
  • Achieve a High Selection Index Score: The PSAT/NMSQT serves as the initial screening for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Students must earn a high Selection Index score on the test. This score is calculated based on the student’s performance in the three PSAT/NMSQT sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW), Math, and Writing and Language.

National Merit Scholarship PSAT Score Requirements

The National Merit Scholarship Program utilizes the Selection Index to determine eligibility based on PSAT scores. The Selection Index is determined by doubling the sum of the Reading, Writing, Language, and Math test scores from the PSAT/NMSQT. This score is crucial for advancement in the competition.

The required Selection Index score varies yearly and from state to state. The cutoff score is determined by the NMSC and is used to identify Semifinalists. Semifinalists are then required to submit additional documentation, including a detailed scholarship application and SAT scores, to become Finalists and compete for scholarship awards.

It’s important to note that the cutoff scores can be highly competitive, and meeting them is a significant achievement. To have the best chance of becoming a Semifinalist and eventually a National Merit Scholar, students should aim for high PSAT scores through diligent preparation and study.

How to Apply for National Merit Scholarship Program

Applying for the National Merit Scholarship Program involves several steps:

  • Take the PSAT/NMSQT: Register for and take the PSAT/NMSQT during your junior year of high school. Check with your school’s guidance counselor for test dates and registration information.
  • Qualify as a Semifinalist: You may qualify if you achieve a high Selection Index score on the PSAT/NMSQT and meet other eligibility criteria.
  • Complete the Scholarship Application: Semifinalists must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes information about their academic record, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, and an essay.
  • Submit Required Documentation: Semifinalists must also submit SAT scores and a letter of recommendation from a high school official.
  • Advance to Finalist Status: Semifinalists may advance to Finalist status based on the submitted documentation.
  • Be Selected as a National Merit Scholar: Scholarship winners are selected from the pool of Finalists based on their academic achievements, leadership qualities, and potential.

The Deadline for the Application 

To ensure your eligibility for the National Merit Scholarship Program 2024-25, it’s crucial to be aware of and meet the application deadline. Typically, the timeline for the National Merit Scholarship Program follows these steps:

  • October: Take the PSAT/NMSQT during your junior year of high school.
  • February: Semifinalists are notified, and they receive detailed scholarship application materials.
  • April: Deadline for Semifinalists to submit their scholarship applications, SAT scores, and letters of recommendation.
  • September: Finalists are announced.
  • Spring of Senior Year: National Merit Scholars are named.

However, it’s important to note that the exact deadline may vary slightly from year to year, so it’s advisable to check the official National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) website or contact the NMSC directly to confirm the specific deadline for the year you are interested in applying.


The National Merit Scholarship Program 2024-25 presents an exceptional opportunity for high-achieving high school students to pursue their college aspirations with invaluable financial support. With the knowledge of the program’s significance, fulfilling the application criteria, striving for outstanding PSAT scores, and meeting the application deadline, you can significantly enhance your prospects of attaining the esteemed title of a National Merit Scholar.

This accomplishment acknowledges your academic prowess and unlocks doors to extraordinary educational and career pathways. If you are ready for this exciting journey, commence your preparations and commit to excelling in the PSAT/NMSQT, securing your place in the esteemed National Merit Scholarship Program.

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