Several Rio Rancho students have been named semifinalists for the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program.

William Fay, ASK Academy; Michael Dryga and Graciela Rodriguez, Cleveland High School; and Esme L. LaPointe, Rio Rancho High School, are part of more than 16,000 semifinalists announced nationwide Wednesday.

More than 1.3 million juniors entered the program by taking the 2022 PSAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which serves as an initial screening of entrants. The pool of semifinalists represents less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors with the number of semifinalists in each state proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalists, semifinalists and a high school official must submit an application that details the student’s academic record, participation in activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards. They must also write an essay and earn an SAT or ACT score that confirms the performance on the PSAT.

The four Rio Rancho semifinalists have this opportunity to move onto the next level. About 95% of the semifinalists are expected to become finalists, and approximately half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship. More than 7,000 National Merit Scholarships worth nearly $28 million will be offered in the spring.