What are the National Recognition Programs?
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What are the National Recognition Programs?

What are the National Recognition Programs?

National Recognition Programs (NRP) are a collection of academic achievement awards granted to students who meet particular academic and demographic requirements. These awards recognize students from underrepresented groups, including the

  • National African American Recognition Program
  • National Hispanic Recognition Program
  • National Indigenous Recognition Program
  • National Rural and Small Town Recognition Program

Depending on a student’s demographics, they may be eligible for more than one award. Significantly, the National Recognition Programs are NOT scholarships. Students do not receive any money as part of the award. However, students should add the award to their resumes for college and scholarship applications. Some colleges recognize the National Recognition Program awards with scholarships or other opportunities. For example, the University of Arizona treats National Hispanic Scholars like National Merit Scholars with financial assistance and admission into the Honors College.

How do I qualify?

Applications for the NRP open in early spring of a given school year. Sophomores and juniors who score in the top 10% of their demographic group on the PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT administrations during that school year are eligible. For example, sophomores (class of 2025) and juniors (class of 2024) were included in the cycle for spring 2023.

Students who do not qualify with their PSAT scores will also be considered if they earned a 3 or higher on two separate AP exams. Since AP scores are not released until July, after the NRP application closes, only AP exams from previous school years can be considered. So if you aced your AP US History and AP Language and Composition exams from junior year, they will not count.

If you meet either the score eligibility criteria and indicate your ethnicity on your answer sheet, you will receive an email invitation from BigFuture, the College Board website that helps students plan for college. However, if you do not receive an email invitation, all is not lost! If you think you may be eligible, College Board encourages you to apply as well through your College Board account. College Board is not forthcoming regarding cut-off scores for each state, however, so that part can be tricky. Ask your counselor if they happen to know of students at your school (in your group) who were invited and if your score is similar. You might also see what you can turn up on the internet. Either way, there is no harm in applying if you received a high score.

Beyond the PSAT or AP exam score, you must also meet the following criteria:

  • A GPA of 3.5 or higher. Either weighted or unweighted GPAs are acceptable.
  • A permanent U.S. address. Addresses in the U.S., a U.S. territory, or a U.S. military base are acceptable as well as attendance at a DoDEA (Department of Defense Education Activity) school.
  • Identify as Black, African American, Latino, Hispanic, Indigenous*, Native, or attend high school in a rural area or small town**.
                *American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander
                **Based on the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Documentation of these criteria is part of the application process. More information is available in your College Board account. You will need to supply the name and email address of your counselor and parent/guardian as part of the process.

After applications open in early spring, they remain open through mid-June. After applying, you can keep track of the status of your application through your College Board account as well. Students will be notified in September if they are awarded recognition. The good news is that as long as you meet all the criteria and complete the application, you will receive a recognition certificate!

Is it worth it?

Since the NRP awards do not include money, it may seem like you should turn your attention toward more lucrative awards. However, the NRP is an excellent and accessible opportunity to demonstrate your academic achievement to colleges and scholarship providers. Think of it like a big green checkmark you can add to your applications that certifies how hard you have worked throughout high school.

Receiving an NRP award functions as a gateway to many scholarships. Furthermore, if you opt-in to the Student Search Service, which you can do at any time through your College Board account, you will also likely be contacted by scholarships and colleges that want you to apply because you are an NRP awardee.

At the same time, if you meet the eligibility criteria, the application process is fairly straightforward. There is no reason not to apply! You do not have to submit a personal essay or a resume of all your extracurricular activities. You just have to supply documentation of your academic achievement in school. There is no maximum number of students who can receive recognition, either, so it is guaranteed as long as you submit the application. 

Despite the fact that there is no financial award involved if you are one of the groups recognized by the College Board, then it is worth it to make qualifying for a National Recognition Program award a goal!


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