Fifteen IUSD seniors are among this year’s National Merit Scholarship winners

Fifteen students from Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools have earned prestigious scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Corp., the Daily Pilot reported this week.

And there may be more to come.

That’s because there are three different kinds of Merit Scholarships – there are college-sponsored awards, corporate-sponsored awards and “National Merit $2500 Scholarships” – and the winners are being announced in phases.

By the time the final round is revealed in July, approximately 8,300 freshly minted graduates will have secured $35 million for college.

About 1.5 million high schoolers entered the 2011 National Merit Scholarship hunt as juniors by earning high marks on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. In the fall, roughly 16,000 were named semifinalists, representing less than 1 percent of all seniors.