National Achievement Scholarship Program

student in Illinois shirtThe National Achievement® Scholarship Program is an academic competition established in 1964 to provide recognition for outstanding Black American high school students. Black students may have entered both the 2015 National Achievement Program and the 2015 National Merit® Program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) and meeting other published requirements for participation. The two 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 2015 National Merit Program and the 2015 National Achievement Program, but can receive only one monetary award from NMSC.

Student Entry Requirements

To participate in the 2015 National Achievement® Scholarship Program, a student must meet the following requirements:

  1. have taken the 2013 PSAT/NMSQT® in the specified year of the high school program and no later than the third year in grades 9 through 12, regardless of grade classification or educational pattern;
  2. have requested entry to the National Achievement Program by marking Section 14 on the PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet, thereby identifying himself or herself as a Black American who wishes to be considered in this competition as well as in the National Merit® Scholarship Program;
  3. be enrolled as a high school student, progressing normally toward graduation or completion of high school, and planning to enroll full time in college no later than the fall following completion of high school; and
  4. be a citizen of the United States; or be a U.S. lawful permanent resident (or have applied for permanent residence, the application for which has not been denied) and intend to become a U.S. citizen at the earliest opportunity allowed by law.

Information supplied by the student on the 2013 PSAT/NMSQT answer sheet determined whether the individual met requirements for participation in the 2015 National Achievement Program.  back to top

Program Recognition

Of the more than 160,000 students who entered the 2015 National Achievement® Program, 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 2015 competition for National Achievement Scholarships.  back to top

Outstanding Participants Referred to Colleges

Approximately 3,100 outstanding 2015 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 2014, 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

Semifinalists

About 1,600 high-scoring participants in the 2015 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 2015 National Achievement Scholarship Program. (Adobe Acrobat Reader is required.)  back to top

Finalists

In late January 2015, approximately 1,300 Semifinalists are notified by mail at their home addresses that they qualify as Finalists in the 2015 program. High school principals are notified and provided with a certificate to present to each Finalist.  back to top

Achievement Scholar® Designees

All 2015 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 2015, 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