The National Achievement Scholarship
National Achievement Scholarship Program
Established in 1964 by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), the National Achievement Scholarship Program seeks to recognize outstanding Black American high school students. Black students may enter both this program and the National Merit program by taking the PSAT.
The two annual programs are conducted concurrently, but operated and funded independently of each other. A student may be recognized by both programs; however, he or she may only receive one monetary award from NMSC.
Students must complete the PSAT during their junior years of high school in order to be considered for a National Achievement Scholarship. Qualifiers must also be U.S. citizens and have a projected graduation from a 4-year high school.
Students must also request entry into the program by marking Section 14 on the PSAT answer sheet, thereby identifying themselves as Black Americans who wish to be considered for this program in addition to the National Merit Scholarship competition.
In early September, about 1,600 high-scoring participants are notified that they have qualified as semifinalists. These are the highest scoring entrants in each state. NMSC provides scholarship application materials to semifinalists through their high schools.
At this stage the NMSC requires that semifinalists take the SAT (by December of senior year) and earn scores that confirm their PSAT performances. Semifinalists must also complete application materials and are responsible for sending their SAT scores to the National Achievement Scholarship Program.
In February of their senior years, around 1,300 semifinalists are notified via mail that they have advanced to the final stage of the competition. These students are awarded a certificate by their schools’ principals.
Achievement Scholar Designees
All winners of National Achievement Scholarships are chosen from the group of finalists based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments.
Beginning in late February, the National Achievement Program notifies approximately 800 students that they have been selected to receive a National Achievement Scholarship. Achievement Scholarship awards are of two types:
- National Achievement $2500 Scholarships: Every finalist competes for these single payment scholarships, which are awarded on a regional representation basis. A total of 700 scholarships are awarded.
- Corporate-sponsored Achievement Scholarship Awards: Corporate sponsors designate their awards for finalists who plan to pursue particular college majors or careers, are children of their employees, or are residents of an area served by the sponsor. These scholarships may either be renewable for four years of undergraduate study or one-time awards. Currently, about 100 corporate-sponsored awards are offered each year.