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National Merit Finalist Scholarship

National Merit Finalist Scholarship

Even though OU’s tuition and fees remain near the bottom of the Big 12, OU’s Campaign for Scholarships has allowed the university to double new scholarships for students in the last five years.

While OU's National Merit scholarship is a wonderful financial package, it will not cover all expenses. However, if your student receives outside scholarships, those cash awards will reduce their out-of-pocket expense. In addition to our National Merit scholarship, we will allow your student to "stack" cash awards or federal financial aid that they receive. Institutional scholarships, combined with other federal, state and/or institutional aid, should not exceed the published Cost of Attendance.

If OU’s National Merit scholarship is the only financial assistance your student receives, their annual out-of-pocket expense is estimated as the following:

Resident Scholarship

View a breakdown of estimated out of pocket expenses for resident students (pdf).

Non-Resident Scholarship

View a breakdown of estimated out of pocket expenses for non-resident student (pdf).

These annual cost estimates include 30 credit hours, along with all fees, books and room and board. The room and board estimate is calculated on the average room and board rate for a double-occupancy room in one of our freshman Towers. The room and board rate for the following years is estimated based on the cost of OU’s university owned apartments, Traditions Square, and an upperclassman meal plan. These cost estimates do not include miscellaneous costs (i.e., student parking permit, personal spending allowance, transportation allowance, etc.). All costs subject to change. 

OU’s National Merit scholarship includes a tuition waiver for five years, and your student may use their National Merit scholarship to study abroad while at OU. 

National Merit Competition

We are here to answer any of your questions. Please view the costs, frequently asked questions, and benefits below, and feel free to reach out with any additional questions you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions

The first step in the process is to take the PSAT/NMSQT your junior year in high school. NMSC will look at your Selection Index Score on the PSAT/ NMSQT to determine if you are a Semifinalist. Semifinalist scores vary by state. There is more detailed information about this process at the NMSC website,

You will learn of your Semifinalist standing in early to mid September of your senior year in high school. NMSC will then notify your high school and provide them with application materials for the next stage in the process - becoming a National Merit Finalist.

Here are a few things NMSC requires you to do in order to advance to Finalist standing (for a complete list, visit

  • Be recommended for a Merit Scholarship award by your high school principal (or school official designated by the principal)
  • Have a record of consistently high academic performance in all of grades 9 through 12 and in any college coursework taken
  • Complete the Merit Scholarship Application and submit it to NMSC by mid October, 2017.
  • Take the national SAT reasoning test and earn scores that "confirm your PSAT/ NMSQT performance." It is your responsibility to file a request with the College Board SAT Program to have an official report of your SAT score sent to NMSC. You have through the December 2017 national test date to submit an SAT score.

You will be notified in early February at your home address if you have advanced to Finalist standing.

College choice is the school that you designate with NMSC as the school that you plan to attend. It is important because the school that you have designated by the deadline is the only school that can give you the College-sponsored Award.

You can change your college choice with NMSC as many times as you would like between when you send your Merit Scholarship Application in to NMSC and OU's April 30 deadline to name a college choice. You may change your college choice to OU by submitting it online. Visit for details.

Our deadline is the same as the NMSC deadline, April 30. Since NMSC begins making College-sponsored awards on May 1, OU's priority deadline for finalists to receive our National Merit scholarship is April 30. If you have "undecided" listed as your college choice prior to our April 30 priority deadline, or if you received a corporate or national-sponsored award, name OU as your college choice to receive our scholarship. For a complete list of competition rules, visit

Scholars receive one of the three types of awards which are centrally coordinated by NMSC.

The first type of award is the National Award – a $2,500 scholarship, which is funded directly by NMSC. This award is portable, meaning that you can take it to any institution of your choice.

The second type of award is the Corporate-sponsored Award, which is generally awarded to students who are sons/daughters of parents who work for a corporation that sponsors. This award is also portable. (Refer to your original information packet from NMSC for a list of corporations which sponsor.)

The final type of award is the College-sponsored Award, which comes from the college that you designate as your college choice, provided that the college sponsors National Merit Finalists.

Note: You will only be offered one of these awards, even if you qualify for all. You should accept the one award that is offered to you.

Students are not guaranteed they will receive a scholarship coordinated by NMSC. If a student chooses to attend a university that does not sponsor or selectively sponsors (and the student is not among those selected), and the student does not receive the National Award or Corporate-sponsored Award, he/ she would remain a Finalist.