National Merit Money

It's not what you think. Only certain colleges will reward your efforts so choose wisely.


Every year 1.6 million American 11th graders take the PSAT. 50,000 of those will be commended and 16,000 of those will go on to be finalist or semifinalist. For this massive achievement you will earn a one-time $2500 award. Not so great, but you will also be eligible to apply to colleges who offer a National Merit Scholarship to top applicants. However, many highly-selective universities choose not to participate in National Merit. After all, top schools naturally attract top applicants so they do not need to entice with scholarships.

Fortunately, there are still many good colleges that offer monetary awards for freshman applicants who are National Merit Commended, Semi-Finalist, or Finalist. The key to making the most of your award is to pick a college who will reward you accordingly.


Master list of colleges to target if you find yourself in this enviable position.


Abilene Christian University Full tuition + $6,000 stipend

Arizona State University Up to Full Tuition

Auburn University Up to $10,500 per year plus stipend

Baylor University Up to $22,000

Boston College $1,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Boston University $25.000 - $80,000

Bowdoin College $1,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Brandeis College $500 - Up to Full Tuition

Brigham Young - Provo Full tuition, limited availability

Brigham Young University Full Tuition

Carelton College Minimum $2,000

Case Western Reserve $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Clemson University $1,500 - Up to Full Tuition

Colby College $1,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Dickinson College $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Emory University $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Florida Atlantic University Cost of attendance, regardless of residency

Florida State University COA, Guaranteed admission to University Honors Program

Fordham University Full tuition for top 2-3% of admitted students, competitive

Franklin W. Olin College $1,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Furman University $2,000 - Up to Half Tuition

Grinnell College $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Gustavus Adolphus College $30,000+, full tuition for 10 candidates

Harvey Mudd College $1,500 - Up to Full Tuition

Hope College $88,000

Illinois Wesleyan University Up to $160,000 for top 3 Candidates; $16,000 otherwise

Indiana U. - Bloomington $2,000

Iowa State University $5,000, Full tuition for residents, varies for non-residents

Kenyon College $1,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Lawrence University $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Linfield College Half to full tuition depending on need

Loyola University Chicago Full tuition for one student, $8,000 if not selected

Macalster College $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Miami University - Oxford $2,000

Michigan State University $750 - $2,000

Montana State University $6,000 - $18,000 residents, $10k-$66,000 non-residents

New College of Florida COA for those qualifying for the Benacquisto Scholarship

New Jersey Technology Full COA

Northeastern University $10,000 -$28,000

Northern Arizona University Full tuition plus $2,000 stipend, Honors College

Northwestern University $500 - Up to Full Tuition

Oberlin College $1,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Occidental College $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Oklahoma State University Full tuition ($67,800 residents, $145,400 non-residents)

Pennsylvania State Maximum $2,000

Pepperdine University Up to Full Tuition

Purdue University Up to Full Tuition

Rhodes College $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Rochester I. Tech $2,000 plus highest Presidential Scholarship

Rose-Hulman I. Tech $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Rutgers University Up to Full Tuition

Santa Clara University $2,000 - Up to Full Tuition

Southern Methodist $5,000-$30,000

Texas A&M University $42,000 for residents, $100,000 for non-residents

Texas Tech University Full COA

Trinity University $2,000 – Full Tuition

Tufts University $1,000 – Full Tuition

Tulane University $2,000 – Full Tuition

University of Alabama Full tuition, Housing, $14,000 stipend, $2,000 allowance

University of Arizona $72,000 (full tuition plus) + $1,500 for study abroad

University of Arkansas $40,000 & Up

University of Central Florida COA, Honors College, Housing and laptop computer

University of Cincinnati Full in-state tuition, Honors Program, $1,500 stipend

University of Dallas Full tuition, limited to 10 students

University of Florida Cost of attendance

University of Houston Full Tuition/fees, $1,000 research. $2,000 study abroad

University of Idaho Basic cost of attendance