PARAMUS, N.J. -- The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced over 650 additional winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by colleges and universities. These Merit Scholar designees join more than 3,300 other college-sponsored award recipients who were announced in June.

Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the Finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program who will attend their institution. College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

This year, 167 colleges and universities are sponsoring about 4,100 Merit Scholarship awards. Sponsor colleges include 92 private and 75 public institutions located in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

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Locally, Ashley J. Kim of Paramus, was among a dozen recipients in New Jersey to receive the distinction. Kim, who earned the National Merit Emory University Scholarship, is a recent graduate of Bergen County Academies in Hackensack. She plans to pursue an undergraduate degree in her probable career field, Chemistry.

Emory College is the undergraduate division of Emory University, a private, coeducational university located in suburban Atlanta. With over 3,000 students and a 12:1 student-faculty ratio, the college provides the advantages of individual attention plus the resources of a major university. Emory also offers undergraduate schools of Business Administration and Nursing, and graduate schools of Arts and Sciences, Dentistry, Law, Medicine, Allied Health, and Theology.

The final group of winners brings the number of 2020 National Merit Scholars to about 7,600. These distinguished high school graduates will receive scholarships for undergraduate study worth a total of over $30 million. In addition to college-sponsored awards, two other types of National Merit Scholarships were offered—2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships, for which all Finalists competed, and more than 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who met criteria specified by their grantor organizations. 

2020 National Merit Scholarship Competition

This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began when over 1.5 million juniors in approximately 21,000 high schools took the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2019, about 16,000 Semifinalists were named on a state-representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.

To become a Finalist, each Semifinalist had to complete a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay, describing leadership positions and contributions in school and community activities, showing an outstanding academic record, and being endorsed and recommended by a high school official. Semifinalists also had to take the SAT® or ACT® and earn scores that confirmed their performance on the initial qualifying test. From the Semifinalist group, about 15,000 attained Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists were chosen to receive National Merit Scholarships. 

NMSC, a not-for-profit corporation that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 to conduct the National Merit Scholarship Program. Over the past 65 years, more than 353,000 outstanding young individuals have won National Merit Scholarships worth over $1.2 billion. The majority of awards offered each year are underwritten by approximately 400 independent corporate and college sponsors that support NMSC’s efforts to recognize scholastically talented youth and encourage the pursuit of academic excellence.