Crazy Scholarship Money from PSAT

“How will I ever pay for college?”

It’s a question on the minds of most students and their parents.

Imagine if your child could earn well-respected recognition to highlight his or her college entrance application?monetary rewards just for performing well on one test that takes under 2.5 hours?

And might I add that this test could be prepared and studied for to increase the odds…

Well, let me introduce you to the PSAT.

I wrote more generally about the logistics of the PSAT in a previous blog article. But in THIS article I want to talk more specifically about the scholarship money opportunities available to those students who work hard enough to do well on the PSAT test and qualify for them.

How the National Merit Scholarship Works

About 1.5 million students take the PSAT each year in October, which also serves as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT).

The 50,000 students with the highest scores qualify for recognition. In September, the high scorers are notified through their schools that they have qualified as either a Commended Student or Semifinalist.

semi vs commend stud 9-30-15-01

Semifinalists are notified by EARLY September, Commended Students received letters of commendation in LATE September.

To be considered for a National Merit Scholarship, from there Semifinalists must advance to finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and all other requirements outlined by the NMSC.

PSAT winnings 9-28-15-01

Finalists: In February, about 15,000 semifinalists are notified that they have advanced to be named a finalist. High school principals are also notified and provided with a certificate to give to finalists.

*Keep reading & see chart below for colleges/universities who will give you scholarship money to attend their institution if you are a Finalist!

Winner Selection: All winners of Merit Scholarship awards are chosen from the pool of finalists based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments with no attention paid to gender, race, ethnicity, or religion.

Criteria NMSC selectors evaluate includes:

  • Academic records
  • The school’s curriculum and grading system
  • 2 sets of test scores
  • The high school official’s written recommendation
  • Information about the student’s activities and leadership
  • An essay

HOW TO GET MONEY (Option #1): Merit-based Scholarships

From March to mid-June, NMSC notifies Finalists if they have been selected to receive one of these types of Merit Scholarship awards:

National Merit Scholarship overview
from www.NationalMerit.org

NOTE: Corporate-Sponsored “Special Scholarships” covered in next section although it appears on chart above.

  • National Merit $2500 Scholarships
    Single payment scholarship money awarded on a state representational basis (no consideration given to family financial circumstances, college choice, or major and career plans.)
  • Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards
    Single payment awards OR may be renewable for four years of undergraduate study. (About 1,000 are given annually).
    Corporate sponsors of these awards can designate qualifications such as: children of their employees or members, residents of a community, or finalists with career plans the sponsor wants to encourage.
  • College-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards
    Renewable for four years of undergraduate study. Winners selected from finalists who have been accepted for admission to their university/college and have informed NMSC by the published deadlines that the sponsor college or university is their first choice. (*See chart below for colleges/universities give lots of scholarship money to attend their institution)

HOW TO GET MONEY (Option #2): Other Award Opportunities

Special Scholarships

If you were part of the 2/3 High Scorers who received a letter of commendation, you’re not out of luck!

About 1,300 of awards are give out annually to students who were not finalists, but who meets the sponsor’s criteria and files the sponsor’s separate entry form.

A list of sponsoring organizations can be found in the National Merit Student Guide (updated each year): http://www.nationalmerit.org/student_guide.pdf

HOW TO GET MONEY (Option #3): Scholarship Money from Colleges and Universities Given to Finalists and Semifinalists

…aka The “Big Kahuna”!

Here is where top scores on this one test can REALLY PAY OFF. Semi-finalists and Finalists are many times comped their entire undergraduate program’s worth of tuition. Sometimes they even get scholarship money on top of tuition for books, computers, other fees, housing, etc.

Here is a list of some examples of schools that offer money to attend their undergraduate programs if you score well on the PSAT. Please check with the school for updated information and how to take advantage of these scholarships (some details may have changed).

Below, “full ride” refers to paid tuition, room, and board, and “plus” means they may give an additional stipend to cover some or all of book costs, fees, technology purchases, etc.

Public College/University National Merit Finalist National Merit Semi-Finalist
Alabama State University Full ride guaranteed Full ride guaranteed
Arizona State University In-state:  full ride ($15,000.00); out-of-state:  full tuition plus ($23,000.00) In-state: full tuition plus ($9,000.00) & out-of-state: $10,500.00) guaranteed
Auburn University Full tuition plus guaranteed Full tuition plus guaranteed
Ball State University Full ride guaranteed
Cleveland State University Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Eastern Kentucky University In-state:  full ride; out-of-state:  full tuition guaranteed In-state:  full ride; out-of-state:  full tuition guaranteed
Louisiana State University Full tuition Full tuition
Mississippi State University Full tuition plus Full tuition guaranteed
New Mexico State University Full ride Full tuition plus guaranteed
Ohio State University $1000-4000.00 $1000-4000.00
Oklahoma State University Full tuition plus guaranteed Full tuition plus guaranteed
Southeast Missouri State University Full ride guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Southern Arkansas University In-state: full ride; out-of-state: full tuition In-state: full ride; out-of-state: full tuition
Texas Tech University Out-of-state:  full tuition ($12,700.00) guaranteed Out-of-state:  full tuition ($12,700.00) guaranteed
Troy University, AL Full ride competitive Full ride competitive
U of Central Florida Full tuition plus $9,000.00 guaranteed
University of Alabama Full ride Full tuition with 3.5 GPA guaranteed
University of Alabama-Huntsville Full ride Full tuition plus guaranteed
University of Arizona tuition guaranteed tuition guaranteed
University of Houston Full ride guaranteed Full ride guaranteed
University of Idaho Full ride competitive ($25,000.00)
University of Kentucky Full ride first year & full tuition plus for remaining 3 years guaranteed Full ride first year & full tuition plus for remaining 3 years guaranteed
University of Maine Full tuition Full tuition
University of Memphis, TN $9,000.00 plus out-of-state fee waiver, full tuition plus guaranteed $7,500.00 plus out-of-state: fee waiver, full tuition plus guaranteed
University of Minnesota-Morris Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
University of Nebraska, Lincoln Full tuition plus guaranteed Full tuition plus guaranteed
University of North Alabama Full ride Full tuition plus guaranteed
University of North Texas Full ride Full ride
University of Oklahoma Full tuition plus guaranteed Full tuition plus guaranteed
University of Southern Mississippi Full ride Full ride
University of Texas, Dallas Full tuition guaranteed
University of Texas, Tyler Full ride Full tuition plus guaranteed
University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh In-state:  full ride guaranteed In-state:  full ride guaranteed
Wayne State University, MI Full Tuition Full Tuition
Youngstown State University, OH Full ride with ACT score of 30 or higher or 1300 SAT or higher Full ride with ACT score of 30 or higher or 1300 SAT or higher
Private College/University
National Merit Finalist National Merit Semi-Finalist
Abilene Christian University Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Alfred University Full ride guaranteed with top 5% class ranking, otherwise full tuition/ride competitive Full ride guaranteed with top 5% class ranking, otherwise full tuition/ride competitive
Alma College Full tuition guaranteed, full ride competitive (first 15 to commit) Full tuition guaranteed, full ride competitive (first 15 to commit)
Andrews University Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Baylor University Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Birmingham Southern College Full tuition competitive Full tuition competitive
Bradley University Full tuition guaranteed (Call school for details, not on website) Full tuition guaranteed (Call school for details, not on website)
Denison University Full tuition competitive Full tuition competitive
Faulkner University Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Fordham University Full tuition plus competitive Full tuition plus competitive
Harding University Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Liberty University Full ride Full tuition guaranteed
Lipscomb University Full tuition plus guaranteed Full tuition plus guaranteed
Long Island University, C.W. Post Full tuition competitive Full tuition competitive
Northeastern University Full tuition competitive Full tuition competitive
Oakwood University Full tuition plus Full tuition
Oklahoma Christian University Full ride guaranteed Full ride guaranteed
Pacific Union College Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
Roberts Wesleyan College Full tuition Half tuition guaranteed
Spring Arbor University Full tuition Half tuition plus one-time $5,000.00 award guaranteed
Sterling College Full tuition guaranteed Full tuition guaranteed
University of Evansville Full tuition 75% tuition guaranteed
University of Tulsa Full ride competitive Full ride competitive
Wesleyan College Full tuition competitive Full tuition competitive
Westminster College, UT Full tuition Half tuition guaranteed
College/University Additional Awards
California State University, Fullerton In-state only: full tuition plus guaranteed
California State University, Long Beach In-state only: full ride competitive
Calvin College $10,000.00 guaranteed
Concordia College $14,000.00 guaranteed
Franklin and Marshall College NMF $10,000.00 guaranteed
Hope College $17,000.00 guaranteed
Iowa State University In-state full ride
Michigan State University $750-$2,000.00 plus in-state $2,000.00 & out-of-state: $4,000.00 and room/board, competitive
New College of Florida $17,500.00 guaranteed
North Central College 3/4 tuition guaranteed
Rochester Institute of Technology $15k guaranteed
Southern Methodist University Half tuition plus $2,000.00 guaranteed)
St. Olaf College $7,500.00 guaranteed
University of Akron, OH $4,000.00 guaranteed plus
University of Central Arkansas $12,000.00 guaranteed with 3.25 GPA
University of Cincinnati, OH In-state full tuition plus; out-of-state: add $14,000.00
University of Dallas NMF: $14,000.00; NMSF $12,000.00 guaranteed
University of Florida Out of state tuition waiver plus $4,000.00 guaranteed
University of Kansas In-state only:$ 10k guaranteed
University of Louisiana-Lafayette Check with school
University of Massachusetts, Amherst In-state- full ride
University of New Mexico Approximately &13,000.00, competitive
University of Sioux Falls Full ride competitive (Only one given)
University of South Carolina In-state: up to $10,000.00, out-of-state: up to $6,000.00 plus out-of-state fee waiver
University of Southern California Half-tuition Presidential Scholarship guaranteed upon admission
University of Vermont In-state NMF full tuition; out-of-state $10,000.00 guaranteed
University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire Full in-state tuition guaranteed
Wright State University In-state only: NMF full ride guaranteed, NMSF/Commended full tuition guaranteed

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a HUGE opportunity here for students to get incredible sums of money for their undergraduate careers! They just have to do well on ONE test that takes less than two and a half hours to complete.

While the test “counts” toward qualifying for the National Merit during the student’s second-to-last year of high school (usually junior year if on a ‘typical’ schedule), students can take the exam once a year, every year, in October prior to this for real practice!

Plus, there are classes available to help students study for the exam! This is an amazing opportunity for students and parents to invest a little time and money upfront for a potentially huge payoff later.

At Student-Tutor, we specialize in SAT Prep classes, and since the PSAT is a precursor and predictor of success on the SATs.

How young should your child start?

The sooner the better. 

Co-authored and Graphics by Renae Hintze

Know a student who has benefited from taking the PSAT, or have any additional questions about what steps you should take? Let us know in the comments below!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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