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Selective Colleges Offering National Merit Scholarships

Out of the 1.6 million American teens who sit for the PSAT/NMSQT, only about 15,000 individuals will go on to be named National Merit Scholarship Finalists. These exceptional teens not only scored insanely well on the PSAT, but also bring an exceptional high school transcript to the table. Universities have the option to sponsor a National Merit Scholarship in an effort to net freshmen who have earned this impressive distinction. However, many highly-selective schools like those in the Ivy League or Ivy-equivalent colleges choose not to participate in this merit-based scholarship program. After all, schools of this ilk naturally attract more applicants with these qualifications than they can even admit.

The following list contains 68 competitive public and private institutions that do indeed offer awards to National Merit Finalists, albeit of greatly varying amounts. For each school, we list the annual award granted by the school (from $500 all the way to full cost of attendance), whether you need to declare the college as your “first choice” through the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), and whether or not the scholarship is granted automatically to qualifying students. Parlaying your status as a National Merit Scholar Finalist into a steep tuition discount is entirely possible, if you explore the schools on the list that follows.

Table Updated June 2020

Institution Annual Award (Semi-Finalist)Annual Award (Finalist)First-Choice Required?Guaranteed?
American University None$2,000YesNo
Arizona State UniversityUp to Full TuitionUp to Full TuitionNoNo
Auburn UniversityUp to $10,500 per year plus stipendUp to $10,500 per year plus stipendYesNo
Baylor UniversityNoneUp to $22,000YesNo
Boston CollegeNone$1,000YesNo
Boston UniversityNone$25,000YesYes
Bowdoin CollegeNone$1,000-$2,000YesYes
Brandeis CollegeNone$500YesYes
Brigham Young UniversityNoneFull Tuition YesNo
Carelton College NoneMinimum $2,000YesYes
Case Western Reserve University None$1,000-$2,000YesNo
Clemson University None$1,500NoYes
Colby CollegeNone$500-$1,000YesYes
Dickinson CollegeNone $2,000YesNo
Emory UniversityNone $2,000YesYes
Florida State UniversityNoneFull COANoYes
Fordham UniversityFull Tuition Full Tuition NoNo
Franklin W. Olin College of EngineeringNone $1,000YesNo
Furman UniversityNone $1,000-$2,000YesNo
Grinnell CollegeNone$2,000YesNo
Harvey Mudd College None$1,500YesYes
Indiana University - BloomingtonNone $2,000YesYes
Iowa State University None$5,000YesYes
Kenyon College None$1,000NoYes
Lawrence University None$2,000YesNo
Loyola University Chicago None$2,000YesYes
Macalster College None $2,000YesYes
Miami University - Oxford None$2,000YesNo
Michigan State UniversityNone$750-$2,000YesYes
New Jersey Institute of TechnologyNoneFull COANoNo
Northeastern UniversityNone$10,000-$28,000NoNo
Northwestern University None$500YesNo
Oberlin CollegeNone$1,000YesNo
Occidental College None$500-$2,000NoNo
Pennsylvania State University Maximum $2,000Maximum $2,000YesNo
Pepperdine UniversityNone $1,000-$2,000YesNo
Purdue University None$500YesYes
Rhodes CollegeNone$500-$2,000NoYes
Rochester Institute of Technology None$2,000 plus highest Pres. Schol. YesYes
Rose-Hulman Institute of TechnologyNone $1,000-$2,000NoYes
Rutgers University None$1,000YesNo
Santa Clara UniversityNone$2,000YesYes
Southern Methodist University None$5,000YesYes
Texas A&M University$3,000$7,000NoYes
Texas Tech UniversityNoneFull COAYesNo
Trinity University None$2,000YesNo
Tufts University None$1,000NoNo
Tulane University None $2,000YesYes
University of Alabama $26,000Full COA plus stipendNoYes
University of Arizona $13,500$18,000YesYes
University of FloridaNone$500YesYes
University of KansasNone$10,000YesYes
University of KentuckyNoneFull Tuition plus housing stipendYesYes
University of MarylandNone $750-$1,000YesNo
University of MiamiNone$1,000-$2,000YesNo
University of Minnesota - Twin CitiesNone$11,000YesNo
University of RichmondNone$750-$2,000YesNo
University of RochesterNoneVaries YesNo
University of South CarolinaNoneUp to $10,000YesNo
University of Southern California None$28,000+YesYes
University of TulsaFull TuitionFull Tuition YesNo
University of Wisconsin - MadisonNone$3,000YesNo
Washington and Lee None$750-$3,750YesYes
Washington State University Full TuitionFull Tuition YesNo
Whitman CollegeNone$2,000NoYes
Vanderbilt University None$2,000-$5,000NoYes
Villanova University None $500-$2,000YesYes
Whitman CollegeNone$1,000-$2,000YesYes
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Colleges Worth Your Money

2022 Edition

A Guide to What America's Top Schools Can Do for You

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