Update on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

psat national merit

Update on the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test

Published on March 2, 2021

psat national merit

It wouldn’t be off-base to assume that you’ve heard of the PSAT, but did you know that the PSAT is more than just a prep test for the SAT?

The Preliminary SAT (PSAT), or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT), is a great opportunity to see your student’s strengths and weaknesses and prepare for the SAT.

Your child’s 11th-grade PSAT score will be considered for the prestigious National Merit Scholarship.


Can You Get a Scholarship for the PSAT?

The PSAT can offer more than just practice; earning the qualification of National Merit Scholar can lead to a variety of scholarships and merit aid from universities.

While the PSAT can be taken in ninth and tenth grade too, only the eleventh-grade test matters for National Merit.

Your child must do extremely well and receive a score in the top 3 percent of test takers during 11th grade. The exact PSAT National Merit cutoff score varies by state

Scholarship winners must be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation, planning to enroll full time in college starting the fall after high school graduation, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.


How Much Is the PSAT National Merit Scholarship?

According to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, National Merit finalists compete for $2,500 scholarships based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments.

Colleges across the country recognize the National Merit Scholarship as a prestigious award, and being a scholar can give your child a leg up in the college admissions process.

If you think your student could win, it pays to put effort into test prep. Before you decide to invest a lot of resources into PSAT prep though, consider having your student self-study for the PSAT and take it in ninth or tenth grade.


What Colleges Give Full Scholarships for National Merit Scholars?

There are 16,000 semifinalists who then can submit their transcripts, test scores, and details about leadership and extracurriculars to apply to become a National Merit Finalist.

Semifinalists also need to write a personal essay and obtain a recommendation from the high school principal.

About half of the 15,000 finalists selected by the National Merit Scholarship group receive a financial award of $2,500, which is renewable each year for four years. However, many colleges and universities also offer scholarships for National Merit Scholars.

This list is of public and private universities that offer up to a full tuition scholarship for National Merit Scholars.

  • Faulkner University
  • Oakwood University
  • University of Alabama
  • University of Alabama-Birmingham
  • University of Alabama-Huntsville
  • Harding University
  • University of Arkansas
  • Northern Arizona University
  • University of Arizona
  • La Sierra University
  • Pacific Union College
  • Vanguard University of Southern California
  • University of Connecticut
  • Howard University
  • Florida A&M
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida College
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Florida International University
  • Lynn University
  • Coe College
  • University of Idaho
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Grace College and Seminary
  • University of Evansville
  • Benedictine College
  • Central Christian College
  • Wichita State University
  • Lindsey Wilson College
  • Murray State University
  • University of Kentucky
  • Louisiana Tech University
  • Washington Adventist University
  • University of Maine
  • Alma College
  • Andrews University
  • Rochester College
  • University of Minnesota-Morris
  • Mississippi State University
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Southern Mississippi
  • University of North Dakota
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • New Mexico State University
  • University of New Mexico
  • Western New Mexico University
  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas
  • Fordham University
  • Nyack College
  • Roberts Wesleyan College
  • Wright State University
  • Oklahoma Christian University
  • Oklahoma City University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Oklahoma Wesleyan University
  • Southwestern Christian University
  • Southwestern Oklahoma State University
  • University of Oklahoma
  • University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
  • University of Tulsa
  • Linfield College
  • Winthrop University
  • University of Sioux Falls
  • Bryan College
  • Southern Adventist University
  • University of Memphis
  • Abilene Christian University
  • Baylor University
  • Dallas Baptist University
  • East Texas Baptist University
  • Hardin-Simmons University
  • Lubbock Christian University
  • Southwestern Adventist University
  • Texas A&M University-College Station
  • Texas State University
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Dallas
  • University of Houston
  • University of North Texas
  • Brigham Young University-Provo
  • University of Utah
  • Liberty University
  • Regent University 
  • Evergreen State College
  • Walla Walla University
  • Washington State University 
  • Lawrence University
  • University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
  • West Virginia University


Other Scholarship Opportunities

The PSAT scholarship organization also facilitates corporate-sponsored scholarships available for National Merit qualifiers.

Some corporate awards are for children of employees, others are for students in a particular community, or those planning to study in a certain field.

If your child is a National Merit Scholar or is hoping to qualify for the National Merit Scholarship, be sure to contact their high school counselor and prospective universities to see if there are opportunities to receive additional scholarships. 






In this article:

Upcoming Events

Similar Articles for You

Are ‘No Essay’ College Scholarships a Student’s Dream Come True?


Are ‘No Essay’ College Scholarships a Student’s Dream Come True?

Editor’s Note: Monica Matthews is the author of “How to Win College Scholarships.” She helped her son win over $100,000...

SAT Prep Guide: 9 Steps to Raise Your Score in 2024


SAT Prep Guide: 9 Steps to Raise Your Score in 2024

Editor’s Note: The author, Dr. Kelly Frindell, is a test prep expert and owner of InHouse Test Prep.  Students across...

How To Survive Senior Year, From Parents Who’ve Been There


How To Survive Senior Year, From Parents Who’ve Been There

Senior year of high school is stressful for everyone — parents, students, and even the admin high school staff. It’s...

Become a Member

At Road2College you’ll find everything you need to make the admissions and paying for college process less stressful and more transparent.


Explore R2C Insights™ — your source for finding affordable colleges and merit scholarships.


Get coaching on admissions and college financing.


Join Road2College where parents and experts work together to inform and inspire college-bound families.