Full-Ride Scholarships: What Are They & How Can You Get One? (2023)

Full-Ride Scholarships: What Are They & How Can You Get One? (1)College | March 29, 2022 |Lisa Litant

(Video) How I Got $500,000 in College Scholarships (WHAT NO ONE TELLS YOU) national merit/applying early/ECs

What you'll learn
  • What is a full-ride scholarship
  • How to get a full-ride scholarship
  • What types of full-ride scholarships are available
  • How many students get full-ride scholarships

It’s every student’s dream: getting all the money you need to cover schoolexpenses for a year—in one scholarship—and for free! It’s rare, but this couldbe you if you’re lucky enough to get a full-ride scholarship

What’s a full-ride scholarship?

It’s a financial award, like any other scholarship, but with a difference—it covers all your college expenses. And not just tuition—a full-ride scholarship also covers your housing, meals, books, lab fees, and sometimes even living costs. In money terms, it can be worth anywhere from $20,000 to more than $50,000, depending on your school’s costs. And more than just money, in some cases, it can also include participation in special leadership programs, internships, and peer mentoring at your college.

Note: There’s a similar-sounding award—a full-tuition scholarship. Like the name says, this will pay for your tuition but not your other expenses. Not too shabby, but the full ride is the real golden ticket.

How do you get a full-ride scholarship?

Not surprisingly, a full-ride scholarship is very competitive. It can focus on academic standing, athletic skill, leadership, or merit; financial need isn’t necessarily a requirement. The important thing is to start out with an honest self-evaluation. What are your biggest strengths? What makes you really shine and stand apart from others in your class?

(Video) The secret to securing a full ride scholarship!

It’s hard to generalize, but you can increase your chances by making yourself stand out in one or more areas, and the earlier you can start to develop these unique qualities, the better:

  • Full-ride academic scholarship: Be at the top of your class with a great GPA, take AP/honors classes, and get perfect (or close to perfect) SAT or ACT scores. Along with academic merit, it also helps to also have leadership skills or community involvement, too (see below).
  • Full-ride leadership scholarship: This is one of the basic qualities that schools and organizations look for; you could be a student class officer, organize a club, devote your spare time to community service, or have a unique internship.
  • Full-ride athletic scholarship: You’ll need to excel in your high school team (and rank toward the top of your state, too) so a school wants you badly enough for their program. Division 1 sports offer full-ride scholarships to six different sports, but there are organizations for other sports.
  • Other types of full-ride scholarships: This can include being the first-infamily to attend college, having a specific heritage, or overcoming significant life challenges. Some universities (like the University of Virginia) have full-ride scholarships based on financial need.

What types of full-ride scholarships are available?

These scholarships are most often awarded by a school or a private organization. Universities award these scholarships to sweeten the deal when they’re trying to attract a certain type of student to their campus.

Organizations or companies may offer them for a specific field of study, like STEM, or even for a certain affiliation. Here’s just a few examples; for a complete listing, use a free scholarship database, like Scholarship Search:

  • Colleges with free-ride scholarships: A number of colleges have these programs—The Jefferson Scholarship covers students who go to the University of Virginia; the Torch Scholars Program helps students at Northeastern University. Some schools, like Alabama State University and the University of Notre Dame also offer scholarships based on SAT/ACT scores.
  • Government: There’s a U.S. Air Force ROTC Scholarship for use at any private institution with an ROTC affiliation. (The Navy offers similar ones.) The USDA/1890 National Scholars Programhas awards for students pursuing degrees in agriculture and related disciplines at historically Black land-grant colleges and universities. Plus, some states offer scholarships to residents.
  • Foundations/companies:The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has scholarships for students with financial need in any field of study. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers The Gates Scholarship for use at any U.S. accredited college. And the Strive Foundation awards Stamps Scholarships that are good at 36 colleges around the country.And Coca-Cola has a Scholars Program.
(Video) How to win a FULL RIDE Scholarship (for undergraduate AND graduate school) | Tips from a 30x winner

How to apply for full-ride scholarships

Just like with any scholarship, you need to make sure you know the application date, details, and the backup materials you need. Read over the scholarship’s rules several times to make sure you don’t miss anything. Extra materials you’ll need can include

  • Official grade transcript
  • One or more essays
  • Lists of your extracurricular activities
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Demonstrated financial need (if that’s part of the specific scholarship)

And be sure to speak with your counselor—those rules can get pretty specific and sometimes require an experienced professional to make sure you’re not missing something.

(Video) 40+ US SCHOOLS THAT GIVE FULL RIDE SCHOLARSHIPS! (Int’l students included)

How rare are full-ride scholarships?

To be honest, they’re pretty unusual. Wondering what percentage of students get one? One estimate is 1% to 1.5%.footnote 1

On the other hand, someone has to be awarded the full-ride scholarships so why not you? And you can’t get one if you don’t apply! It’s also smart to have a backup financial plan for college, just in case. Always fill out the FAFSA® so you’re eligible for federal financial aid and apply for all thescholarships you can. Several smaller scholarships can add up to full tuition or more.

Who knows? You could be in the 1% that gets the golden ticket to college!

(Video) Myth: Full-Ride Scholarships are Common


What GPA do you need for a full scholarship? ›

A 4.0 Grade Point Average is not only a high GPA, it's an impressive GPA that's sure to catch the eyes of many scholarship providers. Since the minimum GPA for a full-ride scholarship is usually set at 3.5, a 4.0 is sure to always be above and beyond what's required.

What SAT score will get you a full ride? ›

Shoot for at least a 28 on the ACT or above 1300 on the SAT. Some scholarships allow for flexibility, so check the particular scholarship, but these numbers generally give you the most options. Encourage your student to also pursue a high GPA or even 4.0, especially their senior year.

Can an average student get a full ride scholarship? ›

While many scholarships award outstanding academic, musical or athletic talent, there are ample scholarship opportunities for average students from every walk of life are available.

What are the different types of full ride scholarships? ›

Full-ride scholarships fall into a few different categories: ones that are merit-based, ones that are need-based (these two are both generally offered by the colleges/universities themselves), and ones from private organizations.

Which scholarship gives the most money? ›

Featured Online Schools
Miss AmericaAdditional Information Amount Awarded: Varies, up to $12,000 Deadline: Varies
Coca-Cola Scholars FoundationAdditional Information Amount Awarded: Up to $20,000 Deadline: August
Buick AchieversAdditional Information Amount Awarded: $25,000 Deadline: Varies
7 more rows

What ACT score do you need for full ride scholarships? ›

As your SAT score goes up, the required class rank goes down—students with a 1200+ SAT score or 25+ ACT score may receive a scholarship at a top 30% class ranking, and students with a 1400+ SAT or 31+ ACT score may receive a scholarship at a top 40% class ranking.

What ACT score do you need to be a presidential scholar? ›

However, these test scores are the deciding factor in becoming a presidential scholar. Candidates should aim for a nearly perfect score of 1600 on the SAT or a 36 on the ACT.

How much SAT score is required for full scholarship? ›

Income-eligible students who live in India and get a total SAT score of 1300 or higher may qualify for a merit-cum-need scholarship at participating universities.

Does full ride include fafsa? ›

The financial aid awarded based on the FAFSA can be used to pay for the college's full cost of attendance, which includes tuition and fees.

What are the easiest college scholarships to get? ›

Top easy scholarships in 2023
  • $10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship.
  • $2,000 Nitro College Scholarship – No Essay.
  • $40,000 BigFuture Scholarships.
  • $25,000 No Essay Scholarship.
  • March Madness Scholarship.
  • $5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship.
  • Annual Protestant Faith Based College Scholarship.
  • Annual Catholic College Scholarship.

Do you pay back scholarship money? ›

Usually, the answer is no.

Scholarships are a form of nonrepayable gift aid, much like many federal grants. Student loans, unlike grants and scholarships, are borrowed money that must be paid back with interest. Scholarships are considered free money because there are no expectations for repayment.

How hard is it to get a scholarship? ›

Odds of Winning a Scholarship

Only about 1 in 8 college students wins a scholarship, and the average amount used to pay for college is about $4,200 a year. Very few students win $25,000 or more in scholarships each year (only about 0.1%). Among the students who win scholarships, 97% win $2,500 or less.

What scholarships are most common? ›

What are the three most common types of scholarships? Common types of scholarships for college are merit-based scholarships, need-based scholarships, and athletic scholarships. However, within these categories are sub-categories of scholarships based on specific eligibility factors.

How many scholarships can you use for college? ›

There is no limit to the number of scholarships you can apply for, and you actually should apply to many. Scholarship awards can vary greatly, so you might apply for a few scholarships with huge awards, and you might also apply for some that are only worth a few hundred dollars.

Do scholarships cover living expenses? ›

What does scholarship cover? A. The scholarship money can be used to pay the tuition fees, room and board expenses, books and other education materials, living expenses, research and lab fees.

How do you actually find scholarships? ›

How do I find scholarships?
  1. the financial aid office at a college or career school.
  2. a high school or TRIO counselor.
  3. the U.S. Department of Labor's FREE scholarship search tool.
  4. federal agencies.
  5. your state grant agency.
  6. your library's reference section.

How much is the Coca-Cola scholarship? ›

Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship – High school seniors with a minimum 3.0 unweighted GPA may apply on our website in August of their senior year until the October 31 deadline. 150 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected each year to receive this $20,000 scholarship.

What type of scholarships are the best? ›

Academic Scholarships

These scholarships are awarded to students with the most exceptional GPA, most impressive series of extracurricular activities and a history of public service. Academic Scholarships typically have substantial financial payouts, and confer a certain level of prestige on the recipient.

How much money does the Bill Gates Scholarship give you? ›

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is another Gates minority scholarship. The program grants an average of $12,785 to 1,000 annually-selected scholars.

When should I start applying for college scholarships? ›

When to apply for scholarships. Apply for scholarships early and often. Some scholarship deadlines are as early as a year before you start college. You don't need to wait until you've made your final decision about your school to apply.

What GPA do colleges look at? ›

Colleges consider your unweighted or weighted high school GPA alongside other grades, including your semester GPA and cumulative GPA. Admissions officers look at your official transcripts to contextualize your GPA and understand which classes you thrived.

How much scholarship money can I get with a 26 ACT score? ›

Most colleges and universities also offer their own merit-based scholarships, which scores that low can sometimes qualify you for. For example, at Mississippi State University, a 3.0 high school GPA and an ACT score between 20-26 will get you $1000-$2000 in scholarships.

What is an impressive ACT score? ›

In general, a good ACT score is any score in or above the 75th percentile — at least a 24. Students should aim to hit or exceed the middle 50% of ACT scores at their chosen colleges. The ACT Writing section is optional and uses a separate scoring scale.

Who gets nominated for Presidential Scholar? ›

Students are initially selected based on their accomplishments in career and technical education fields. Students are nominated through their Chief State School Officer. Each CSSO can nominate up to five candidates who meet the U.S. Presidential Scholars candidacy requirements.

Is being a presidential scholar a big deal? ›

Each year, up to 161 students are named U.S. Presidential Scholars, one of the Nation's highest honors for high school students. The Scholars represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in young people.

Can I get a scholarship with a 900 SAT score? ›

Scholarships for a 900 SAT Score

When it comes to earning scholarships for merit, a 900 isn't likely to make you eligible for most merit scholarships. There are tons of types of scholarships, though, including ones for extracurricular activities, life circumstances, and passions.

Is 1200 a good SAT score for scholarships? ›

1200 is a good SAT score that will place you among the top students with a 75 percentile score. It is good enough to get into a decent college or university in the United States.

Can I get a full scholarship with 1000 SAT score? ›

Scholarships requiring certain scores on standardized testing, like the ACT or SAT, or a certain GPA, are typically referred to as “merit scholarships.” A 1000 SAT score isn't likely to make you eligible for merit scholarships, but there are plenty of other types to apply for, including those based on extracurriculars, ...

Does a full ride athletic scholarship cover everything? ›

The “Full Ride”

A “full-ride” means the school pays for your entire education: tuition/room/board/books/fees etc. up to the full “cost of attendance” – this is the scholarship that goes to NCAA Division I "headcount" sports: football (FBS only)/ basketball/ women's volleyball, tennis, and gymnastics recruits.

How much federal aid can a student get? ›

The maximum amount of money you can get from a Pell Grant is: $6,495 (2021-22). The amount granted depends on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), cost of attendance, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less.

How much does FAFSA give based on income? ›

The FAFSA formula doesn't expect students or families to use all of their adjusted available income to pay for college. The formula allocates 50 percent of a dependent student's adjusted available income to cover college expenses and anywhere from 22 to 47 percent of parents' available income.

How do you find scholarships that almost nobody knows about? ›

So, Where Do You Find Unclaimed Scholarships? One good place to look for scholarships is on the Financial Aid Finder Scholarship Announcement Blog. Every Friday, the site lists several scholarship opportunities with upcoming deadlines.

What is the most difficult part of finding scholarships? ›

The most difficult part is making sure your child finds the time to search for relevant awards, complete the applications, draft essays, ask for letters of recommendation, and send them all out before the deadline passes. Here are four tips to help you and your child navigate the application process.

What is the difference between financial aid and a scholarship? ›

In general, grants are given based on financial-need, while scholarships are merit-based and awarded to students based on their academic achievements, extracurricular activities, field of study, and more. Loans are the more commonly-used type of financial assistance.

Do scholarships cover all 4 years? ›

Full-tuition scholarships are the holy grail of college scholarships- prizes that will cover the majority of your college costs for four years. These scholarship awards can cover tuition costs to all of your living expenses, depending on the terms determined by the provider.

What happens after you win a scholarship? ›

Once you have won a scholarship, you are required to report it to the college you plan to attend. The school then reassesses the financial aid package. Basically, when a student wins a scholarship, they become less “needy,” which means they do not need as much financial aid.

What happens if I don t use all my financial aid grant money? ›

The school will issue you a Pell Grant refund if some of your grant dollars are unused. You may receive a check for the remaining amount, or the school may transfer it via direct deposit into your bank account or student account.

Can I get a full ride scholarship with a 3.5 GPA? ›

The GPA requirement usually depends on the type of scholarship and the institution awarding it. For example, a college may distribute an academic or merit-based scholarship to students who receive a 3.5 GPA or higher. Earning a high GPA can often help increase your likelihood of receiving a robust scholarship.

Can I get a full scholarship with a 3.0 GPA? ›

The GPA you need to get a full ride scholarship varies from college to college. Some scholarship providers may look for a certain GPA like 3.5 to 3.7 on a scale of 4.0. They may also assess your particular class rank (E.g. top 5% or 10% in your class). Others look at ACT or SAT scores.

Can I get full scholarship with 3.9 GPA? ›

Absolutely. There are all sorts of scholarships available for students with a 3.9 GPA or higher. The good thing about scholarships for students with a strong GPA is that there are many of them available.

Can a 4.5 GPA get you a scholarship? ›

A 4.1-4.5 GPA will certainly put you ahead when you apply for scholarships. Applying for a scholarship with a 4.1-4.5 GPA is a way to show that you're a strong student who is dedicated to getting good grades. If you want to apply for scholarships with a 4.1-4.5 GPA, it's best to start early!

What is the easiest scholarship to get? ›

Top easy scholarships in 2023
  • $10,000 “No Essay” Scholarship.
  • $2,000 Nitro College Scholarship – No Essay.
  • $40,000 BigFuture Scholarships.
  • $25,000 No Essay Scholarship.
  • March Madness Scholarship.
  • $5,000 Christian Connector Scholarship.
  • Annual Protestant Faith Based College Scholarship.
  • Annual Catholic College Scholarship.

What grades are required for scholarships? ›

Grade cut-offs are also dependent on the type of scholarship but most have a range from at least 85% or higher in all subjects. Some scholarships offer at least 83%, however. To get your report card or your transcript, drop by your school registrar or school principal's office for more information.

How much money is the Presidential Scholarship? ›

Unlike other scholarship programs, a Presidential Scholarship through the Presidential Scholars Program does not have any monetary value. Rather, it provides scholars with invaluable experiences and opportunities that other students don't have access to.

How hard is it to get a full ride? ›

How hard is it to get a full ride scholarship? Less than 1 percent of students get full ride scholarships, showing just how difficult it is to earn one. However, with the right background, proper planning and by knowing where to look, your chances of landing a full ride scholarship can increase.

Where is the best place to get scholarships? ›

How do I find scholarships?
  • the financial aid office at a college or career school.
  • a high school or TRIO counselor.
  • the U.S. Department of Labor's FREE scholarship search tool.
  • federal agencies.
  • your state grant agency.
  • your library's reference section.

How many A's do you need for a scholarship? ›

Sometimes referred to as merit scholarship, you will need to demonstrate remarkable academic results (typically at least 5As at SPM or equivalent) to secure this award. The scholarship quantum differs depending on your results.

How to apply for scholarships? ›

How can you apply for a scholarship?
  1. Register for the scholarship, usually by completing an online application form.
  2. Check your inbox to make sure you've received the confirmation email.
  3. Write a personal statement or essay. ...
  4. Get official proof of your academic, athletic, or artistic achievements.
Nov 17, 2022

How to win scholarships? ›

Top Tips for Winning Scholarships for College
  1. Create an accomplishments resume. ...
  2. Don't miss deadlines. ...
  3. Complete the scholarship matching profile thoroughly. ...
  4. Apply to as many scholarships as possible. ...
  5. Look for scholarship listing books. ...
  6. Find local scholarships on bulletin boards. ...
  7. Tap into family connections.

What GPA is required for Harvard? ›

You should also have a 4.18 GPA or higher. If your GPA is lower than this, you need to compensate with a higher SAT/ACT score. For a school as selective as Harvard, you'll also need to impress them with the rest of your application.

What is the highest GPA you can get? ›

The unweighted scale is most common, and the highest possible GPA on this scale is a 4.0. The unweighted scale doesn't take the difficulty of a student's classes into account. Weighted scales are also used at many high schools. Typically, they go up to a 5.0.

What happens if you get more scholarships than you need? ›

What happens to leftover scholarship money. If you earned scholarships and grants that add up to more than your total cost of attendance, your school may send you a refund of the leftover scholarship money. Keep in mind, you may have to pay taxes on that amount.


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