Paying for college could become a little easier for some local teens

Academically talented students from Belleville, Edwardsville, O’Fallon and Trenton are among 16,000 high school seniors who have a shot at about $33 million in scholarships.

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation, a not-for-profit, will dole out some 7,500 scholarships in spring 2017.

In the running are two students from Belleville East High School — Eddie Caumiant and Ivy Truong; one student from Edwardsville High School — Alyssa Voepel; four students from O’Fallon Township High School — Abigail Carney, Jamie Dela Cruz, Jacob DeLange and Luke Meidel; and one student from Wesclin High School — Ethan Huff. They were selected out of the roughly 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools nationwide who entered the scholarship program.

These semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors: those who scored highest on the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test from each state.

To win a scholarship, the students must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test, according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. Finalists will be notified in February and winners will be announced between April and July.

About 15,000 of the 16,000 total semifinalists are expected to advance.

Among the scholarships that the students are competing for are:

▪  2,500 National Merit Scholarship for $2,500 awarded on a state-representational basis

▪  About 1,000 corporate-sponsored scholarships awarded based on criteria set by approximately 230 corporations and business organizations, such as children of the grantor’s employees or residents of communities where sponsor plants or offices are located

▪  4,000 college-sponsored scholarships awarded to finalists who will attend one of the nearly 190 sponsor institutions

Scholarships are underwritten by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation and by about 420 business organizations and high education institutions that partner with it.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes