Seven Irvine and Huntington Beach students were among nearly 100 National Merit Scholarship winners in the organization's first wave of announcements for the year.

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. will recognize 8,000 students across the country in 2014 with scholarships ranging from $5,000 to $40,000, according to a news release.

About 1.5 million juniors in high schools across the nation entered the merit scholarship competition when they took the 2012 preliminary SAT exam, which served as an initial screening of candidates.

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Last September, about 16,000 students were named as semifinalists. The students were asked to complete a scholarship application, which included writing an essay and detailing extracurricular activities, awards and leadership positions, the release stated.

From the semifinalist group, about 15,000 students met finalist requirements, according to the organization.

Corporate sponsors funded this week's first round of scholarships. This year, the scholarships will contribute more than $35 million toward the winners' college expenses.

The Huntington Beach winners announced this week are Jason Lee, who attends Marina High School, and Christopher Hsiao-Hua Yin, who attends Edison High School.

Irvine's winners include Northwood High School students Jonathan Fu and Rui Jing Jiang; University High School students Vincent Jin and Charl Potgieter; and Arnold O. Beckman High School student Courtney Vu. Beckman High is in Irvine but part of the Tustin Unified School District.