Top Full Ride Scholarships for High School Students
For most students, full ride scholarships are a dream come true! A “full ride” represents one of the easiest ways to graduate from college debt-free and without paying for college out of pocket.
While winning a full ride scholarship is difficult, we want to put you in the best position to be in the running. Below, you will learn everything you need to know about finding and winning a full ride scholarship!
- What is a full ride scholarship?
- Difference between a full ride and a full tuition scholarship
- How do you win a full ride?
- What colleges give full ride scholarships?
- Frequently asked questions about winning a full ride
What is a full ride scholarship?
A full ride scholarship refers to a comprehensive scholarship that covers tuition, room and board, expenses for books and other fees, and oftentimes money for expenses such as a laptop. Some even include bonus money that will help fund a research or study abroad experience over the summer.
Some colleges and universities may also award full ride scholarship recipients other benefits including the opportunity to be part of an honors program or preferential residence hall selection.
Difference between a full ride and a full tuition scholarship
While a full ride will cover all educational and living expenses when you are in college, a full tuition scholarship will only cover tuition. This means that you will be responsible for covering the rest of your cost of attendance through scholarships, need-based grants, ISAs, and student loans.
How do you win a full ride?
There are actually a few different ways you can win a full ride scholarship to a college:
- Private full ride scholarships
- Apply to a college that awards a full ride
- Hack a full ride
Private full ride scholarship
While many private scholarships will award between $1,000 and $10,000 to students, some will cover full tuition, room, and board to students. The great thing about these private scholarships is that they are not generally tied to a specific college or university so you have more flexibility! Both the Questbridge Scholarship and the Cameron Impact Scholarship are worth checking out if you are a high school student. Like college-specific full ride awards, these private scholarships are highly competitive.
Apply to a college that awards a full ride
The simplest way to win a full ride scholarship is to apply to colleges that offer full ride scholarships. These colleges will offer comprehensive scholarships that include full tuition room, board, and potentially more. Remember that full ride scholarships are extremely competitive at any college and only a small percentage of students will be selected.
Hack your full ride
The goal of a full ride scholarship is to pay for your entire cost of attendance at a college. To accomplish this, you do not need all of your scholarship money to come from one place. You can cobble together a college-specific merit scholarship, some need-based financial aid, as well as an outside private scholarship to cover the cost of attendance.
Smart students may wind up receiving a full (or nearly full) scholarship to college without initially realizing it. This is why we always encourage students to develop a broad scholarship strategy including need-based financial aid, private scholarships, and college-specific scholarships.
What colleges give full ride scholarships?
Below you will find a list of some of the top colleges and universities that offer full ride scholarships for students.
We are constantly updating this list, so check back for more colleges and universities. In order to be as complete as possible, we have also included some colleges that offer full tuition scholarships (as these scholarships may be combined with need-based financial aid to cover the complete cost of attendance).
- Auburn University (Auburn, AL) offers the National Scholars Presidential Scholarship to National Merit Finalists and National Achievement Finalists, which award full-tuition scholarships to both in-state and out-of-state students.
- Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA) offers the Presidential Scholars Program is a full-tuition merit scholarship to 15 students
- Duke University (Durham, NC) offers nine merit programs which include full-tuition scholarships
- Southern Methodist University (Dallas, TX) offers merit scholarships up to full tuition & room/board!
- University of Miami (Miami, Florida) offers full-tuition merit scholarships including the Isaac Bashevis Singer Scholarship and the Ronald A. Hammond Scholarship
- University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill offers several full-tuition merit scholarships for both in-state and out-of-state students.
- University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA) offers a number of full-tuition scholarships to incoming freshman.
- University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA) offers the Jefferson Scholars program, which offers in-state scholars $26,000 each year, and out-of-state and international students over $53,000 per year.
- Tulane University (New Orleans, LA) offers over 130 full tuition scholarships awarded that require a separate scholarship application (that is due on December 5th).
- Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) offers full-tuition awards plus summer stipends for study abroad, research or service projects to 250 students.
- Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC) offers several full ride scholarship opportunities to prospective students including the Reynolds Scholarship.
Frequently asked questions about full ride scholarships
What GPA do you need to get a full ride scholarship?
This is tricky to answer, because GPA is not the only factor that the scholarship committee will be considering. So while a strong set of grades will help your case, the scholarship committee will likely be assessing your test scores, essays, activities, and leadership. Chances are the college or organization awarding the scholarship will have a set of criteria. Here is some more information about what matters when being considered for a full ride.
Do valedictorians get full scholarships?
Not necessarily. While there aren’t full scholarships for students who are simply the valedictorian of their high school, this is a factor that will help you win scholarships. If a student is a valedictorian, they have a great set of grades and have likely taken very challenging classes. These factors–high grades and a rigorous academic schedule–will help, but not guarantee students applying for scholarships.
What ACT score gets you a full ride?
In college admissions and scholarships there are rarely any absolutes. This goes for GPA, but also ACT and SAT scores. Generally, the higher your test scores, the better. However, test scores are not everything and other factors like grades, classes, essays, activities, and interviews are likely to be considered.