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 Three Local Students Earn National Merit Scholarships

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently announced more than 540 additional winners of National Merit Scholarships financed by colleges and universities, including three from San Diego County.

The San Diego County winners are Alyssa Cho, Samiha Reza, and Allen Tu, all from Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego.

They join more than 3,500 other college-sponsored award recipients who were announced in June.

Officials of each sponsor college selected their scholarship winners from among the Finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program who will attend their institution. College-sponsored awards provide between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the scholarship.

This year, 173 colleges and universities are sponsoring about 4,100 Merit Scholarship awards. Sponsor colleges include 95 private and 78 public institutions located in 43 states and the District of Columbia.

This group of winners brings the number of 2019 National Merit Scholars to more than 7,600. These distinguished high school graduates will receive scholarships for undergraduate study worth a total of over $31 million. In addition to college-sponsored awards, two other types of National Merit Scholarships were offered—2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships, for which all Finalists competed, and more than 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who met criteria specified by their grantor organizations.

This year's competition for National Merit Scholarships began when over 1.6 million juniors in approximately 22,000 high schools took the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. In September 2018, about 16,000 Semifinalists were named on a state-representational basis in numbers proportional to each state's percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors. Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation's seniors.

To become a Finalist, each Semifinalist had to complete a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay, describing leadership positions and contributions in school and community activities, showing an outstanding academic record, and being endorsed and recommended by a high school official. Semifinalists also had to take the SAT® and earn scores that confirmed their performance on the initial qualifying test. From the Semifinalist group, about 15,000 attained Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists were chosen to receive National Merit Scholarships.