Sarunas Budreckis, a senior at Eastwood High School, is among 16,000 academically talented U.S. students who have been named semifinalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
The honor qualifies him to apply for more than $31 million in college- and corporate-funded scholarships that will be offered next spring.
Sarunas won this prestigious academic honor after earning among the country’s highest scores on the PSAT, which was taken by more than 1.5 million juniors last year. The nationwide pool of semifinalists represents fewer than 1% of U.S. high school seniors.
He will now begin the rigorous application process to become a National Merit Scholar.
To become a finalist, the semifinalists and a high school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s 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.
About 90% of National Merit semifinalists will go on to be named finalists in early 2020, and about 50% of finalists will ultimately win a National Merit Scholarship and earn the title of National Merit Scholar, officials said.
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
Three types of National Merit Scholarships will be offered this spring.
Officials say 2,500 National Merit $2,500 scholarships will be awarded on a state-representational basis; about 1,000 corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarships will be provided by corporations and business organizations; and about 180 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,100 Merit Scholarships for finalists who subsequently attend those institutions.