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National Merit Scholarship

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National Merit Finalist Scholarship

The Princeton Review ranks OU among the best in the nation in terms of academic excellence and cost for students. Your student can certainly reach their goal of becoming a Sooner largely because President David L. Boren is committed to keeping the door of opportunity open for all qualified students. 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.

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 Package


Oklahoma Residents estimated out of pocket expense:

$10,700 for the first year
$7,800 for years two and three
$5,400 for year four

Non-Resident Scholarship Package

Non-Oklahoma Residents estimated out of pocket expense:

$16,000 for the first year
$13,200 for years two and three
$10,600 for year four

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. For further details about the estimated cost to attend OU, click here.

National Merit Semifinalist Scholarship Package

NON-RESIDENT - National Merit Semifinalist Scholarship* - $36,000 ($9,000 x 4 years) – Be named a National Merit Semifinalist and have a 3.5 GPA.  Students who advance to Finalist standing and name OU as their college choice by April 30 are eligible to be upgraded to the National Merit Finalist package.  

RESIDENT - National Merit Semifinalist Scholarship* - $12,000 ($3,000 x 4 years) – Be named a National Merit Semifinalist and have a 3.5 GPA. Students who advance to Finalist standing and name OU as their college choice by April 30 are eligible to be upgraded to the National Merit Finalist package. 

*Students must apply to OU by our December 15, 2017 scholarship deadline to be guaranteed our academic scholarships.

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.

National Merit Process

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, www.nationalmerit.org.

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 www.nationalmerit.org):

  • 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 here. Visit www.nationalmerit.org 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 www.nationalmerit.org.

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.

Benefits for OU National Merit Scholars

There are many benefits to being a National Merit Scholar at The University of Oklahoma. Below, we list a few for you to consider.

Enrollment & Advising

At The University of Oklahoma, National Merit Scholars are able to participate in one-on-one academic advising, and are granted early enrollment privileges.

Study Abroad

Students are able to use their OU National Merit Scholarship to study abroad in one of our numerous partner universities worldwide.

OU Honors College

You must complete a separate application to be admitted to the Honors College. You are not required to be part of the Honors College to receive OU's National Merit scholarship. The vast majority of National Merit Scholars at OU choose to apply to the Honors College because of the additional opportunities offered. Class sizes are limited to 22 students or fewer and students have opportunities to do research as undergraduates. Fulfilling the requirements of the Honors College is the only way for a student to graduate cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude upon graduation. You can apply to the Honors College online and find out more information at the Honors College website.

An Office Dedicated to Your Success

The National Scholars Programs office is dedicated to your success both in the time leading up to your college decision and while you are at the University of Oklahoma. We are here to answer questions, help you with concerns and assist you to make your experience here at OU the best it can be. Please do not hesitate to contact us. In addition, a National Merit Scholar at OU has the opportunity to take advantage of early enrollment privileges. After your first semester, you will be able to enroll before graduate students and seniors on campus, giving you a better opportunity to take the courses you want, at the times you want and with the professors you want.

Frequently Asked Questions about Benefits

Yes. There is a floor or two set aside for National Merit Scholars. In addition, Scholars may choose to live in the Honors College residence halls as part of the Academic Arts Community or on a Scholastic floor in Adams, Couch or Walker Center. A student may live any other place on campus where he/she would like to live. Applying for admission and housing to OU, completing the online housing contract and submitting your enrollment commitment early will help ensure you receive your first choice in housing.

If you have scored a three or higher on most AP tests, you will receive credit at OU. If you would like to see a breakdown of those scores and the credit you can receive from them, please visit the following website: AP Credit Breakdown

In order to see the type of credit you can receive at OU, please visit the following website for CLEP tests: CLEP Credit Breakdown, and IB Credit Breakdown for IB courses.

For more answers to some of our most frequently asked questions, click here!