Jim Cramer

jim cramer

Scholarships Work Great On Reducing Costs Of College


Some 16,000 students throughout the country have been named 2011 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. The semifinalists were selected from a pool of about 1.5 million high school juniors. They represent, in proportion to graduating seniors, the individuals who scored highest on Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Tests within the states where they reside.

It takes more than Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test scores to make it this far. The semifinalists, recommended by their high school principles, have also fared well academically. Where other merit scholarships might require minimum grade point averages at some point in the senior year, National Merit Scholarships require that students maintain a solid academic performance throughout high school.

Bill Gates, Chelsea Clinton and Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos aren’t the only high-profile people to have won National Merit Scholarships. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield and CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer have been named National Merit Scholars. Additional National Merit Scholars include “Twilight” author Stephenie Meyer and actress Felicia Day, who portrayed Vi in “Buffy and the Vampire Slayer.”

Semifinalists for the 2011 National Merit Scholarships are to next pen essays, fill out actual scholarship applications and produce SAT scores that confirm the scores they earned on the initial standardized tests that got them to the semifinalist level. Some 15,000 are expected to make it to the finals, where winners are to be selected based also on leadership and school and community activity involvement and their potential in demanding college and university programs.

By the time the National Merit Scholarship finals roll around, 2,500 of 15,000 finalists are to be provided $2,500 scholarships. An additional 5,900 finalists are expected to receive merit scholarships sponsored by other organizations. By April 2011, the winners should be announced.

Many colleges and universities rely on scholarships for merit as a means of drawing academically talented students. According to a 2002 report in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, merit scholarships can serve as motivation for students to place greater emphasis on their studies and can improve the quality of education. The report gave the example of Georgia’s Lottery-funded HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarships and noted that African-American high school students with 3.1 grade point averages in core courses saw their average SAT scores rise by more than 20 points. These aspiring students with a little help were able to see the benefits of their university scholarships while working on their degrees.

The privately funded, Illinois-based National Merit Scholarship Corporation awards National Merit Scholarships. This non-profit organization, through a National Achievement Scholarship program, recognizes African-American students specifically based on merit. National Achievement Scholarships typically involve 1,600 semifinalists from a pool of more than 160,000, with 700 $2,500 awards provided and an additional 100 merit scholarships provided through outside corporation sponsors. Semifinalists for National Achievement Scholarships are expected to be announced on September 29.

Students can combine their National Merit Scholarships and National Achievement Scholarships with other scholarships they might be awarded, but not with each other. To enjoy free online college courses, students must often select institutions that are accredited by nationally recognized agencies. The college scholarships are a reward for students who dedicate themselves to their studies and their future.

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