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National Merit Scholarship Program Finalist (February, 2006)

Yingda (Linda) Bi and Lauren CouchYingda (Linda) Bi and Lauren Couch have the distinguished honor of advancing in the National Merit Scholarship Program by achieving the level of Finalist.

The two were named National Merit Semifinalists in the fall, a distinction held by less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors annually.

About 90 percent of the Semifinalists were expected to attain Finalist standing, and approximately half of the Finalists will be selected as Merit Scholarship winners, earning the Merit Scholar® title.

To become a Finalist, a Semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout the high school years, be endorsed and recommended by the school principal, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier qualifying test performance. The Semifinalist and a school official must submit a detailed scholarship application, which includes the student’s self-descriptive essay and information about the Semifinalist’s participation and leadership in school and community activities.

Merit Scholar designees are selected on the basis of their accomplishments, skills, and potential for success in rigorous college studies, without regard to gender, race, ethnic origin, or religious preference. Three types of Merit Scholarship awards will be offered in 2006. Every Finalist will compete for one of 2,500 National Merit $2500 Scholarships that will be awarded on a state representational basis. In addition, some 300 corporations and business organizations will underwrite about 1,100 corporate-sponsored scholarships for Finalists who meet their specified criteria, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located. Also, about 200 colleges and universities are expected to finance some 4,600 college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards for Finalists who will attend the sponsor institution.

Merit Scholarship winners of 2006 will be announced in four nationwide news releases beginning in April and concluding in July. These scholarship recipients will join some 234,000 other distinguished young people who have earned the Merit Scholar title.

NMSC, a not-for-profit organization that operates without government assistance, was founded in 1955 specifically to conduct the annual National Merit Program. Scholarships awarded through the program are underwritten by NMSC’s own funds and approximately 500 business organizations and higher education institutions which share NMSC’s goals of honoring the nation’s scholastic champions and encouraging the pursuit of academic excellence.