Most high school juniors who intend to go to college or university take the Preliminary SAT/Nation Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQ). PSAT/NMSQ is taken by over a million high school juniors nationwide. The 50,000 students who score in the top 20% are considered for a number of scholarships funded by National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
8,200 of these students are selected for a scholarship following a multi-staged selection process. A substantial number of scholarships pay $2500, but there are other programs, as well. For example, one funds full scholarships for National Merit Scholarship Finalists who designate certain colleges as the first choice. As the name suggests, National Merit Scholarships are not needs-based. Total awards exceed 33 million dollars annually.