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East County News Service

September 15, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) — Steele Canyon High School student Matthew Morozov and Helix Charter High School student Winston Lau are among 16,000 semi-finalists named in the 62nd annual National Merit Scholarship Program. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state.

The local students will advance in the competition to vie for 7,500 scholarships valued at about $33 million to be awarded next spring. 

About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title, according to a press release. Scholarships are underwritten by NMSC with its own funds and by approximately 420 business organizations and higher education institutions.

The competition had entries from approximately 1.6 million juniors in over 22,000 high schools, who qualified by first taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®).  To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must next submit a detailed scholarship application containing information about the semifinalists’ 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® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

About90% of semi-finalist are expected to become finalists competing for 2,500 National Merit Scholarships of $2,500 each. There are also another 1,000 or so corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards will be provided by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations for finalists who meet specific criteria, as well as another 4,000 college-sponsored Merit Scholarships from about190 colleges and universities for finalists who attend those institutions.