Wow, National Merit is That Competitive?

<p>So, I was a finalist for the National Merit program, and while I hardly feel entitled to one of the $2500 scholarships, I didn't realize they're so hard to get! I'm first or second in my class, 2370 on SAT, AWESOME recommendation (I was really amazed that my vice principal wrote such a personal, specific, great letter), great essay I think (a longer version got me into MIT, Harvard, Caltech, UCB Regents Scholarship...), initiative of starting math team, science fair awards, math team awards... I don't really have any national awards like ISEF or USAMO or anything, but wow, is National Merit really that hard to get? (I do live in MA, which had 313 finalists and only 50 scholarships, which might have something to do with it...) Congrats to those who did get the scholarship!</p>

<p>What blows my mind is that NM program is looked upon as being so prestigious, yet the award is a very modest $2500!!</p>

<p>Find a school that is a sponsoring school, and the $2500 may be renewable (since the school supplies the $$, they can do what they want).</p>

<p>D was lucky enough that her first choice school (where she enrolled) is a sponsoring school that renews the NM award.</p>

<p>That's good for your daughter. I just don't really understand what happened; I knew people who got this scholarship a few years ago, and their grades were a little lower than mine, test scores were the same, and recommendations could not have been better though might have been similar... maybe this year was just really competitive.</p>

<p>class of 2008...</p>

<p>Getting the $2500 (which my son did) is a great honor etc, but frankly it's more of a problem than anything else. Many schools (in fact, all the schools my son applied to) sponsor a merit aid award, so you get $2000 (sometimes a little less) PER YEAR if you are a NM finalist. So $8000. Sweet!</p>

<p>However, if you are one of the select few who get offered the $2500 one-off award from the NM people, you automatically become ineligible for any college-sponsored NM award. This is a NM Corporation rule that the colleges have to abide by. So over the course of four years, you get $2500 instead of $8000! What a Catch-22! </p>

<p>Some colleges try to get round this anomaly in various ways, if you talk to the financial aid office. One school my son is considering says they'll make up the difference by giving him a grant that doesn't have "National Merit" in the title. (According to the NM people themselves, this is a common way round the situation and is OK with them.) The other school my son is considering is making us do an appeal to get them to make up the difference. A parent on one of these forums, whose kid was in the same position last year at that school, said that she objected last year but didn;t formally appeal, and didn't get the money made up.</p>

<p>So those of you who didn't get the $2500, take comfort that you have avoided these problems!</p>

Where are you going?
I am sure you are aware that UCB doesn't award any NMS based scholarships.</p>