The National Achievement® Scholarship Program is an academic competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding Black American high school students. Black students may enter both the National Achievement Program and the National Merit® Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) and meeting other published requirements for participation. The two annual programs are conducted concurrently but operated and funded separately. A student's standing is determined independently in each program. Black American students can qualify for recognition and be honored as Scholars in both the National Merit Program and the National Achievement Program, but can receive only one monetary award from NMSC.
To participate in the National Achievement® Scholarship Program, a student must:
Information supplied by the student on the PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet determines whether the individual meets requirements for participation in the National Achievement Program. Click here to see NMSC program entry items on the PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet, including the section Black American students must mark to request consideration in the National Achievement Program. A school official or the student should report immediately to NMSC any error or change in reported information that may affect participation. back to top
Of the more than 160,000 students who currently enter the National Achievement® Program each year, over 4,700 are honored. A group of about 3,100 Outstanding Participants are referred to colleges for their potential for academic success. A smaller group of about 1,600 are named Semifinalists, the only students who have an opportunity to advance in the competition for National Achievement Scholarships. back to top
Each year, approximately 3,100 outstanding National Achievement® Program participants are brought to the attention of about 1,500 four-year colleges and universities in the United States. In late September, a roster of these students' names, high schools, and tentative college majors is sent to higher education admission officials. At the same time, principals are notified of their students who are being referred to colleges and receive a certificate for presentation to each student in recognition of his or her standing in the program. back to top
About 1,600 high-scoring participants in each year's National Achievement® Scholarship Program are designated Semifinalists. To ensure that academically talented Black American students throughout the nation are included in the pool, Semifinalists are named on a regional representation basis. Semifinalists are the highest-scoring program participants in the states that constitute each region. Application materials are sent to Semifinalists through their high schools. Before being considered for a National Achievement Scholarship, a Semifinalist must advance to Finalist standing in the competition by meeting high academic standards and other requirements explained in the information provided to each Semifinalist. Click here to learn about requirements for becoming a Finalist in the 2014 National Achievement Scholarship Program. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.) back to top
In late January, approximately 1,300 Semifinalists are notified by mail at their home addresses that they qualify as Finalists. High school principals are notified and provided with a certificate to present to each Finalist. back to top
All Achievement Scholarship® winners (Achievement Scholar® designees) are selected from the group of Finalists based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments–without consideration of financial circumstances or college choice. Beginning in late February, the National Achievement® Program notifies about 800 Finalists that they have been selected to receive a National Achievement Scholarship. Two types of Achievement Scholarship awards are offered:
Achievement Scholarship awards are supported by NMSC's own funds and independent sponsors that include corporations, company foundations, and professional organizations. back to top
Page last updated September, 2013
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