EVANSTON, Ill. – Ten Clay County students were selected as semifinals for the National Merit Scholarship Program.
Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation announced the names of approximately 16,000 semifinalists. 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 offered next spring.
Local semifinalists include: Kayla E. Herman and Alexandra D. Wolfe of Fleming Island High; Oakleaf’s Jackson J. Hickey; Ridgeview’s Michael Chen and Madison Yonash; Valerie V. Cabrera, Melinda E. Peacock and Lindsey N. Sabo of St. Johns Country Day School; and, Seth K. Ewer and Ruth J. Pearl who are homeschooled in Green Cove Springs.
To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. More than 90% of the semifinalists 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-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically 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.
More than 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 semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the
highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the
state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.
To become a Finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record,
participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.
From the approximately 16,000 semifinalists, about 15,000 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in February they will be notified 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.
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2020. Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2,500 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 specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. In addition, about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.