Twenty students from Pinellas County have been selected as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
They are among 16,000 students selected from 1.5 million high school juniors nationwide who last year took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
Their next step: Continue in the competition for about 8,000 National Merit Scholarships to be awarded in the spring. About 15,000 students are expected to become finalists for one of three types of scholarships — a $2,500 National Merit Scholarship, a corporate-sponsored scholarship or a scholarship from the college where a student plans to attend.
The winners are selected based on "their skills, accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies," according to the National Merit Scholarship Corp.
The corporation was founded in 1955 to fund and award the scholarship program, which also receives funds from more than 400 business groups and higher education institutions.