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What Are Guaranteed Scholarships Based on ACT/SAT? 

By Cait Williams

Cait Williams is a Content Writer at Scholarships360. Cait recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Journalism and Strategic Communications. During her time at OU, was active in the outdoor recreation community.

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Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole

Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Posted: July 19th, 2023
What Are Guaranteed Scholarships Based on ACT/SAT? 

If you’ve submitted any scholarship applications, you know how disappointing it can be when you spend a lot of time on an application only to not be selected. But what if when you applied for a scholarship, you could be guaranteed you would get it just based on your ACT or SAT score? Well, the truth is, those scholarships do exist! So, let’s look at how you can find them! 

Guaranteed, merit, and need based scholarships 

First, know that the term “guaranteed scholarship” can be a bit misleading. While you may meet the score requirements a college has for a scholarship or grant, don’t assume that you have gotten that award until you are officially told. Always speak with your school’s financial aid office to inquire about these scholarships and your eligibility before you apply. 

The three most common types of scholarships

Before we get into the specifics about guaranteed scholarships, let’s get a little background information. As you learn about guaranteed scholarships you may start to think that they sound a lot like merit or even need based scholarships. So, let’s look at the differences between these three common types of scholarships.  

Guaranteed scholarships 

A guaranteed scholarship is based on a single set of requirements that are laid out for students to see. They require no additional materials, interviews, or applications. They are generally not limited to a certain number of recipients and therefore tend to not be competitive. You’ll generally find guaranteed scholarships being awarded by colleges directly. 

Merit scholarships 

Merit scholarships are based on your record of academic or extracurricular achievements. They may require an application, but they will generally consist of things like your transcripts, test scores, and proof of participation in various activities. Merit scholarships don’t often ask for essays, letters of recommendation, or interviews. Merit scholarships generally come from private organizations or the college you are attending and can range from mildly competitive to highly competitive. 

Need based scholarships 

Need based scholarships look at the level of need that a student has financially. A need-based scholarship may have lower or no academic record requirements and instead will look only at your documented need for financial assistance. Again, this sort of scholarship may have multiple or only one award depending upon who it is awarded by. Need based scholarships come from colleges or private organizations.  

How to qualify for guaranteed scholarships based on ACT/SAT scores 

Okay, now let’s talk about what we came here to talk about! In order to qualify for guaranteed scholarships based on ACT/SAT scores, it goes without saying that you’ll need to have first taken the ACT or SAT. From there, you will need to find the specific scholarships you are considering to see what the minimum scores are that you need to apply. 

It’s important to note that just because a scholarship is based primarily on your test score does not mean you need to have an outstanding score. Every scholarship will have a different minimum ACT or SAT score which can range quite a lot.  

Where to find guaranteed scholarships 

Guaranteed scholarships are usually awarded directly by the colleges or universities, which means the first page you should look at is your prospective school’s scholarship page. Private organizations are more likely to give out merit scholarships, which usually have a cap on the amount that they give out. While not all colleges give out unlimited guaranteed scholarships, you can generally count on them to have a much higher number of scholarship recipients.   

How to apply for guaranteed scholarships 

The best part about guaranteed scholarships is that they take little to no extra work to apply to! In most cases, colleges will automatically consider you for any of their guaranteed scholarships if you meet their criteria through your general application.

It is important to note that because your college application serves as your scholarship application for some of these guaranteed scholarships, it will need to have all the necessary criteria for admission and for the scholarship itself. For example, if you are applying to a test optional school, you may not have included your test scores, but in order to be eligible for some scholarships, you will need to include that information.  


Deciding between the ACT or SAT can be tough. There are a lot of questions you could ask, but ultimately there is no one thing that makes one test better or worse than the other. While the structure of each test is largely the same, the SAT is said to be better suited for students who excel at reading and writing skills, while the ACT is said to be better suited for students that are good at math and analytical thinking. 

If it is an option for you, it can’t hurt to take both tests and use the better of your two scores. It’s also a good idea to take these tests early on in your junior year so that you have time to retake either of them if you’d want to try for a better score.  

What is a good score?  

A good score on the ACT or SAT is relative to where you live and where you are applying to college. Generally, having a score that falls within the 75th percentile is a good place to be. An average score for the ACT and average score for the SAT is based on the state you live in and how many people are taking the test. 

When thinking about how to get the best score, focus on the things that are in your power. You can work on completing practice tests, read about the structure of the test, and even work with a tutor.  

Example scholarships  

Before we wrap up, let’s look at just a few examples of guaranteed scholarships that real colleges offer to their students. 

Let’s start by looking at Michigan Tech. They provide their first year students with a graph to see what awards they are eligible for based on their test score and GPA combined. Incoming students are automatically considered for these awards and can renew them for up to eight semesters! As long as students meet Michigan Tech’s criteria, they should receive an award.

Graph from Michigan Tech Presidential Scholars Program page 

The University of Missouri offers their students the same type of scholarships. A graph of their awards is available on their webpage as well. Their awards are also renewable and can be combined with a number of awards to help students pay for school.

Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

  • Not all scholarships require long applications and all kinds of supporting documents– some scholarships are as simple as having a certain score on the ACT or SAT 
  • Be sure to look into what specific scholarships and grants the colleges you are applying to offer, and if they require separate applications 
  • Don’t assume that you have been awarded a ““guaranteed scholarship” until you are officially told–always check with the financial aid office of your school! 
  • While taking the ACT or SAT can be costly and time consuming, it may be in your best interest to have taken at least one of them to be eligible for scholarships like those mentioned above 
  • Be sure to look at GPA and SAT or ACT minimums that the college you are applying to has before you apply to a college; if you have time to improve your GPA or ACT/SAT scores, it may be worth waiting to apply and improving those numbers so that you are eligible for higher award amounts
Key Takeaways

Frequently asked questions about guaranteed scholarships

Is there a scholarship that covers everything?

A scholarship that pays for everything is called a full ride scholarship. Tuition, room, and board and other expenses such as books will likely be included in a full ride scholarship. These scholarships may come from a private organization, though they can also come directly from a school. They are usually based on several factors, such as academics, extracurriculars, athletics, and more.

What are the easiest scholarships to receive?

Scholarships that are easier to apply to do not mean that they are necessarily easier to win. Scholarships that offer easy applications are great to apply for, but you should count on also filling out some longer applications as well, which will likely be for greater awards. The easiest scholarships to apply for will likely be guaranteed scholarships or others that are directly offered by the school you are applying to.

How do you find scholarships that almost nobody knows about?

Seeking out unique scholarships is a great way to limit the number of applicants you will be up against. If there’s a hobby you have or activity that you are a part of that is a bit rare, you should seek out any and all scholarships that have to do with it! As for more general scholarships, the best way to find them is to look for them everywhere! Ask your guidance counselors, local businesses, and even the companies that your parents or guardian may work at. Scholarships are everywhere, so remember to be on the lookout! 

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