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National Merit Advantage @ super selective colleges

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Replies to: National Merit Advantage @ super selective colleges

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35380 replies399 threads Senior Member
    It's a bit like thinking scoring high on the first SAT (and kids brag, "without studying,") is a bump. Adcoms at tippy tops aren't admitting based on the first pass PSAT.
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  • mom2andmom2and 3052 replies20 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    If your kid is a semi-finalist, it is certainly worth writing the relatively simple essay and continuing on to finalist status. It really can't hurt, and if he doesn't get into a tippy top (depending on your definition), it may well result in some merit money from some other schools. Also check if you or your spouse works for a corporation that sponsors a scholarship. The USC website is a bit ambiguous. Kids have to list the college as its first choice for NMF iin order to be eligible for the money. It may be that USC only gives the extra NMF merit to kids who designate it as their first choice before the admissions/scholarship decisions are made (that is pure speculation on my part as the website is ambiguous) and may not give it to all of the kids who do not designate USC as first choice until after April 1. I don't have first hand experience with USC and NMF, but recall other posters saying it was no longer automatic to get half tuition.

    If your kid is a senior, he should know by now or soon if he is a semi-finalist and if so, not sure why he wouldn't continue on to finalist.

    My kid got half tuition (a while ago now!) from a private University ranked in the low thirties after he declared it was his first choice. It was a nice bump up in merit money from the initial award.
    edited September 2017
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  • knownowknownow 17 replies4 threads New Member
    What I'm gathering from the thread tells me as NMS is not a selection criteria for top colleges and they don't give money either, if he wants to cash it, he should focus on state and tier 2s. Is it correct? If he still prefers "tier 1", he should let go of the idea to qualify for any free money.
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  • youceeyoucee 1312 replies0 threads Senior Member
    Unless something has changed, you don't have to put USC as your first choice until later in the spring, maybe May 1. According to a post in one of the USC threads earlier this year, they get about 2000 applications from NMF kids. Each year about 250 take their NMF scholarship. If you double that number or a little more because some kids won't choose USC even when accepted, you can see that the vast majority of NMF students that apply won't even be accepted. They send out a lot of mailers specifically mentioning NMF status, so it's easy to think your child's chances are better than they are. It's a very nice scholarship if you can get it, but know that a lot of kids are apparently applying for it and they don't seem to have more than about 250 or so each year.
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  • 3puppies3puppies 1749 replies12 threads Senior Member
    What I'm gathering from the thread tells me as NMS is not a selection criteria for top colleges and they don't give money either, if he wants to cash it, he should focus on state and tier 2s. Is it correct? If he still prefers "tier 1", he should let go of the idea to qualify for any free money.

    Not exactly

    NM Finalist is not a selection criteria for the tippy top/ elite colleges.
    However, if the student becomes a NM Scholarship Winner (roughly 100 per state win $2500), AND, the student is accepted at one of these schools, AND, the family financial situation is one where the student is expected to contribute, then these schools do accept money from this outside scholarship. One of D's friends would have won one of these, but her EFC was zero, so since she wasn't paying anything anyway, she didn't get it. D won one as well, and they applied it to reduce her work study requirement. This was nice because it meant she did not have to work her freshman year. As I understand it, there may be others in there class there as full-pay, and the NMS reduces the family contribution. This is how her school handles it.


    So I would definitely not say it is not worth applying, because it took her about an hour to write an essay and apply, and it meant $2500. But that was based on our financial situation.

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  • Mom2aphysicsgeekMom2aphysicsgeek 4744 replies56 threads Senior Member
    @knownow How are you defining tier 2s? There is no single answer as to how tiers are defined (USNWR calls all schools with published rank tier 1 schools and tier 2s as RNP.)

    FWIW, during the 2017 application season, my dd was awarded full-tuition from Fordham. It helps to keep your overall budget in focus, though. Full tuition still meant our costs would approach $20,000.

    If you need large $$ scholarships that bring total costs down to under $12-15,000, yes, you typically are going to have to focus on lower ranked schools. FWIW, large scholarships connected with specialized programs offer awesome opportunities for those selected for the programs.
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  • HImomHImom 36015 replies396 threads Senior Member
    A decade ago when S was applying for Us, USoCal was one of the schools he was most interested in that did give merit awards to their NMFs. He and a lot of his fellow NMFs from his HS applied, were accepted and attended. Many made up the engineering class, so he saw lots of familiar faces, even if he got to know them better in college than HS. As was written above, there is conflicting info about whether folks who are NMFs still get admitted and still get 1/2 tuition awards at USC.
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  • TTdd16TTdd16 279 replies8 threads Junior Member
    In terms of USC and NMF, for top California students who often apply to UCs and USC, even with a half tuition scholarship, in-state tuition at a UC is much less expensive than USC and in many cases the education is just as, or more, highly regarded. (No interest in debating which is better.... there's no objective way to do so. ) So I don't think you can make assumptions about how many NMF are actually turned down at USC--California kids often would choose UCLA, Berkeley, San Diego, or Santa Barbara over USC, and in certain fields Davis or Cal Poly SLO too.
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  • jonrijonri 7367 replies135 threads Senior Member
    if the student becomes a NM Scholarship Winner (roughly 100 per state win $2500)
    Nowhere near that number are "unhooked" Scholars.

    Most parents don't work for a sponsoring corporation, so those scholarships aren't going to help if you don't. A lot of the others are sponsored by colleges. As I wrote above, Carleton gives every NMF money so that makes them all Scholars and Carleton advertizes that it has more National Merit Scholars than any other LAC.

    According to its website, there are about 8500 National Merit Scholars each year. Of those, about one-fourth or roughly 2,125 get money from National Merit. Assuming the number were evenly divided among all 50 states---and leaving out Puerto Rico, Guam and overseas students such as those attending DODDS (Dept of Defense Dependents Schools) --that means there are about 42 or 43 students in each state who get money without having a parent/step-parent's employer or college give the money--not 100. http://www.nationalmerit.org/s/1758/interior.aspx?gid=2&pgid=396&sid=1758
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  • menloparkmommenloparkmom 12694 replies551 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    Each year there are about 15,000 NMSemi Finalists- students whose GPA's, PSAT and SAT scores qualify them for NMF status..

    Many, if not most of those same students apply to, and large number are accepted and enroll at very selective colleges that dont sponsor the NM Scholarship Corporation, so they end up NOT being among the 8000 or so tip top students who DO receive NM scholarships[ and become NM Scholars] .The only difference between most of the 15,000 NMF's and the 8000 or so NMScholars is where they end up enrolling .

    Stating on an application that a student is a NMF can't hurt, but it wont be a selection tipping point at non sponsoring tip top colleges that receive thousands of applications from other NMF's.


    And BTW- USC still offers automatic 1/2 Tuition Scholarships to accepted NMF's who declare USC as their first choice by the NM May deadline.

    USC's website does not say , nor has it EVER said, that the scholarship is automatic, but the Dean of Admissions says it is. I keep in touch with him regarding this matter each year [ DS was NMScholar and Trustee Scholar at USC]


    I'm quoting from our March 17, 2017 correspondence-

    "Thanks for your writing and for your continued presence on College Confidential. The misinformation runs rampant and it is refreshing to see that there are a few folks who are willing to set the record straight.

    Nothing has changed in regards to our practice with National Merit Finalists:

    · NMSC periodically sends us rosters of NMFs who have indicated that USC is their first-choice. We have already received one such roster and expect a couple more before the end of the month

    · Once we’ve selected our admitted class (which, as you know, will be done next week), we then formally award Presidential Scholarships to admitted NMFs, and send them an award letter.

    · NMSC continues to send rosters throughout April and May, with the last one usually coming in late May. This piecemeal approach causes no real problems for us; we just keep making Presidential awards as student’s names show up.


    Students don’t need (and never have had) to tell NMSC before May 1 that we are their first choice and I believe that NMSC allows students to change their designation anytime between now and the end of May. Bottom-line is that as long as we receive a roster from NMSC with an admitted student’s name on it indicating a USC first-choice, he or she will be awarded a Presidential, regardless of when that roster comes to us."
    edited September 2017
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  • Sportsman88Sportsman88 1572 replies13 threads Senior Member
    @Ynotgo I would definitely put NMSF ahead of NHS. NHS is a school honor, not national. NMSF is a state honor.

    On USC, there are some who believe you shouldn't list NMSF because they may restrict the number of NMF admits due to the scholarship. My D was admitted as a spring admit to USC. She listed NMSF on her application. It was a last minute decision to apply so she didn't have the strongest "Why USC" essay so that may have been a factor as well on Spring admit.
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  • billcshobillcsho 18315 replies91 threads Senior Member
    edited September 2017
    @Sportsman88 I read that the half tuition offer at USC is no longer automatic for NMF but just "considered" on their website and the pdf. If that is the case, one should need to name the top school choice as early as possible to increase the chance of getting the scholarship.
    edited September 2017
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  • phokiephokie 51 replies2 threads Junior Member
    Freshman son was NMF and received small $2500 award from Rice. Don't know if it helped his admission chances, but surely didn't hurt. He was accepted and rejected at some other top schools.
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  • Sportsman88Sportsman88 1572 replies13 threads Senior Member
    @billcsho I haven't looked at this year since D is a freshman in college now. The risk in your strategy is I'm not sure you can change once you list a #1 choice. I would double check. I would be afraid of listing a school as #1 and then not getting in/scholarship and then be locked out from other NMF deals.

    At the end of the day for my D, NMF wasn't a factor so I don't think she listed anyone by the 01 May deadline.
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  • psywarpsywar 701 replies25 threads Member
    At Princeton, my son and his friends were talking at dinner about being NMF, out of 8, only one kids wasn't an NMF (and he was sick that day and didn't take it). So, small sample size, but perhaps it is best to say it doesn't help much at HYPSM, but instead may hurt if not an NMF.
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  • TwicerTwicer 166 replies2 threads Junior Member
    What is the gateway for the corporate NM scholarships - NMSF, NMF, or NMS status?
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  • 3puppies3puppies 1749 replies12 threads Senior Member
    Corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards
    Corporate sponsors designate their awards for children of their employees or members, for residents of a community where a company has operations, or for Finalists with career plans the sponsor wishes to encourage. These scholarships may either be renewable for four years of undergraduate study or one-time awards.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2964 replies5 threads Senior Member
    "Stating on an application that a student is a NMF can't hurt, but it wont be a selection tipping point at non sponsoring tip top colleges that receive thousands of applications from other NMF's."

    NMFs aren't decided until Feb I think so the most you can say is NMSF when you're applying. I agree that it should be stated, and pretty high up, as someone note above, just behind national/intl awards.

    "My kid's NMF status might have alleviated any concern adcom might have about his not-so-high (for HYPSM) test scores of 33 ACT and 2150 SAT score and helped him get in as Stanford REA."

    Again, he couldn't have been NMF when he applied early right, just semi-finalist? And a 33 is totally fine for Stanford and anywhere else for that matter. Their 25-75 for ACT is 31-34 so 33 is actually, a little above average. The 2150 is below average, I agree, but schools will go with the higher score that makes the applicant look better.
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  • QuantMechQuantMech 7981 replies35 threads Senior Member
    There is no advantage for admissions, because the top schools receive many applications from students who score in NMF range. However, this does not mean that it is a "waste," unless $2500+ is negligible to you. The last I knew, roughly 15/16 of all NMSF qualified as NMF. Of that group, I think about half receives money. Is that right? If a student scores toward the higher end of the qualifying range on the PSAT, and has grades, course rigor, and ECs that are commensurate with that, the student has a reasonable chance of receiving some scholarship money. Odds are slightly better for a student who qualifies for a corporate-sponsored award, by relation to the company or the company's community (varies from award to award). A very strong NMF who does not qualify for a corporate-sponsored award is likely to be matched with one of the scholarships awarded by the National Merit Corporation itself.
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  • saillakeeriesaillakeerie 2526 replies0 threads Senior Member
    From the numbers I have seen, only about half the national merit finalists get any money. And that includes the kids who get money from colleges and corporate sponsored awards. So about half the finalists will get nothing in terms of money.
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