Trumbull High students Jacob Fried and Nicholas Marchenko are 2017 National Merit Scholarship semifinalists, according to the Illinois-based scholarship program.

The two are among about 16,000 semifinalists competing for about 7,500 scholarships worth a total of about $33 million.

About 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2015 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists, representing less than 1% of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest-scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist 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.