Five Johnston students named National Merit Scholarship finalists

National Merit Finalists 2023JOHNSTON, Ia. (Feb. 14, 2023) — Five Johnston High School students were today named National Merit finalists, bringing them one step closer to consideration for 7,250 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million.

The finalists are Eshaan Chandani, Anita Dinakar, Aarushi Gupta, Jackson Liu and Sophie G. Ruddy. These students were in September named semifinalists in the 68th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Today, all five of these academically talented high school seniors moved to finalist status.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship® award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 95% of the semifinalists were expected to attain finalist standing, and approximately half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 340 business organizations and higher education institutions that share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.

Steps in the 2023 Competition

Last year, these students entered the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program as juniors by taking the 2021 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and a high school official had to submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provided information about their academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® or ACT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

From over 16,000 semifinalists, more than 15,000 were expected to advance to the finalist level and notified this month. All National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of finalists. Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their skills, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference.

National Merit Scholarships

Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered in the spring of 2023.

  • Every finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit® $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state-representational basis.
  • About 950 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 180 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located.
  • In addition, about 160 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 3,800 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

National Merit Scholarship winners of 2023 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join nearly 368,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

Related stories

Five Johnston students named National Merit semifinalists (Sept 2022)

Eight JHS students receive National Merit scholarships (June 2022)

Ten JHS students named National Merit Finalists (March 2022)

Ten JHS students named NMSC Semifinalists (September 2021)