Financial Benefits of taking the PSAT:

Scholarships and Beyond

Financial Benefits of Taking the PSAT

The financial benefits of taking the PSAT:  scholarships and more 

The PSAT (also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)  holds a unique place among college prep tests:  it is the only test that is not required by any college, yet it offers students who excel on it incredible educational opportunities and riches. The financial benefits of taking the PSAT are greater than most students or even counselors are aware of.  

That is because the PSAT test is the first step students take in their bid to earn the highly prestigious and lucrative Merit Scholarship.  The top 1% of scorers become Merit Semifinalists, and the top 3-4% are awarded the distinction of being named Commended Scholars.   The Commended Scholars award is roughly on par with Missouri’s Bright Flight scholarship.   The Merit semifinalists enter the second round of the competition by taking either the SAT or, starting in 2020, the ACT.  

The PSAT is a shorter, simplified version of the SAT that is administered to students in October of their junior year.  The Merit Scholarship itself offers a relatively modest  $2500/year, but it remains the crown jewel of college awards. Merit Scholars are prized by colleges and universities, which compete fiercely for their enrollment.  Rival schools offer many enticements that add up to substantial sums, in some cases full tuition and room and board.  

The Merit Scholarship based rewards vary amongst colleges.

University of Missouri Merit Scholars receive
  • Full tuition
  • Free room and board for one year
  • $3,500 additional annual stipend
  • $2,000 research/study abroad 
  • $1,000 tech enrichment

The rewards colleges and universities offer merit scholarship winners, merit semi-finalists, and commended scholars vary among schools, but all contribute to a student’s financial wellbeing.  The Merit Scholarship pay off  is worth the effort that a student puts into preparing for the PSAT.

To find more information about the PSAT, go to

Dr. Ene-Kaja Chippendale

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