Seven area high school seniors have gotten one step closer to claiming one of the most prestigious academic scholarships in the country.
The students were named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists this week and will continue in the competition for $32 million in scholarships offered across the United States in the spring.
About 90 percent of 16,000 semifinalists will become finalists, and more than half of the final group will earn National Merit Scholarships, according to a news release.
The semifinalists, making up less than 1 percent of the country’s high school seniors, entered the competition as juniors based on results of their 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
To advance to the finals, students must submit an application detailing academics, leadership and community service, among other qualifications.
Winners can earn one of three National Merit Scholarships: a $2,500 scholarship based on state representation, a corporate-sponsored scholarship awarded based on the sponsors’ criteria, or a university-sponsored scholarship.