National Merit Scholarship Corporation’s 2008 annual report revealed that 46 National Merit Scholars and nine National Achievement Scholars enrolled in Georgetown’s freshman class this past fall.

Students designated as National Merit Scholars are part of a group in competition for scholarships awarded by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, corporate sponsors or the universities they plan to attend.

Due to its financial aid policies, Georgetown University is not an official National Merit Scholarship college sponsor.

“Georgetown’s policies help undergraduates who are accepted to Georgetown be able to afford to come here,” university spokesperson Julie Bataille said. “Georgetown’s financial aid is all based on need, rather than merit, which would be the case with the sponsored scholarships.”

Bataille, however, is quick to point out that many National Merit and National Achievement Scholars at Georgetown received money from other sources.

“At Georgetown, there are numerous students who were named National Merit Scholars and others who received scholarships sponsored by an external entity,” Bataille said.

Some of those named National Merit Scholars were given a $2,500 scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Other scholarship winners typically receive them from corporate sponsors – often the workplaces of family members, companies sponsoring local residents or corporations promoting students studying particular subjects, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation Web site.

Harvard College boasts the highest number of Scholars with 285 National Merit Scholars and 58 National Achievement Scholars, while the University of Texas at Austin comes in second with 281 National Merit Scholars and 14 National Achievement Scholars. Harvard, like Georgetown, is not an official scholarship sponsor, while UT-Austin sponsored 213 of its scholars.

According to Bataille, the university has no plans to change its focus from only providing need-based financial aid in order to attract more National Merit or National Achievement Scholars. Instead, she emphasized that being designated a National Merit or National Achievement Scholar is only one aspect of the success of Georgetown students.

“Students accepted to Georgetown excel in a wide range of areas, including academics,” Bataille said. “There are many measures of success.”

Established in 1955, the National Merit Scholarship Corporation annually conducts the National Merit Scholarship Program and the National Achievement Scholarship Program, which specifically targets black high school students, according to the NMSC Web site. Since its inception, the NMSC has recognized 3 million students and awarded more than $1.3 billion in scholarships, according to its Web site. It uses high school juniors’ PSAT scores as well as essays, recommendations and transcripts in later competition rounds as criteria for determining which students will be recognized as scholars.

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