Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced the names of over 16,000 Semifinalists in the 69th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Five Decorah High School students–Gabriel Hiner, Simon Kutz, Anders Lovstuen, Aidan Nalean-Carlson, and Henry Weis–are among those honored.  These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,140 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million that will be offered next spring.  

High school students entered the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which serves as an initial screen of the program entrants. The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, representing less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of Semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship award, Semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the Finalist level of the competition. About 94 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and all National Merit Scholarship winners will be selected from this group of Finalists and will earn the Merit Scholar title.

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. 

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization, was established in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.

2024 National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists 2

Decorah High School National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists (l-r): Aidan Nalean-Carlson, Simon Kutz, Anders Lovstuen, Gabriel Hiner, and Henry Weis