09/18/2020 | News release | Archived content
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has started its nationwide search for the students who will be named 2021 National Merit Scholars, winners of scholarships worth more than $30 million that will be announced starting next spring. As part of this first step, 56 Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) seniors have been named 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists. The students from 12 Gwinnett high schools are part of approximately 16,000 top students from across the nation who will now compete for the official National Merit Scholar title and thousands of dollars in scholarships that are awarded annually to graduating seniors.
These 56 Gwinnett students, part of the Class 2021, were chosen for this competitive process based on their college entrance exam scores. They are competing with other semifinalists from around the nation for some 7,600 National Merit scholarships, worth more than $30 million.
Approximately 1.5 million students in more than 21,000 high schools entered the competition last school year as juniors by taking the 2019 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as the initial screening for program entrants. The semifinalists named in the 2021 National Merit Scholarship Program are the highest scoring entrants in each state.
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. These academically talented students then compete to become finalists. That recognition is determined by looking at the student's academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, and honors and awards received.
These students will compete for three types of National Merit Scholarships with winners for 2021 announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July.