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What GPA do You Need to Get a Full Scholarship?
One of the best ways that students can pay for college is by earning a full scholarship. A full scholarship (otherwise known as a full-ride) means that your total cost-of-attendance or cost of tuition will be covered. This is a great situation for students who will be able to graduate with no or very little student loan debt. One of the most common questions about full scholarship is: “What GPA do you need to get a full scholarship?”
After all, most full tuition scholarships are academically-focused so candidates will need to be strong students.
Jump ahead to:
- What GPA you need to get a full scholarship?
- Other factors that matter for full scholarships
- What GPA you need for an athletic scholarship
- Bottom line for students
Keep on reading to learn more about what GPA you will need for a full scholarships, athletics scholarships, as well as the other factors that matter for earning a full scholarship!
Related: High school & college GPA guide
What GPA do you need to get a full scholarship?
The short answer is that it depends. Every scholarship is different and while some scholarships will provide a minimum GPA to apply, most will not share the average GPA for scholarship earners.
There are a few reasons for this.
First, students who earn scholarships are not chosen in a vacuum. Rather, they are chosen from a pool of candidates. This pool can change from year to year depending on who else is applying.
Second, a GPA can be very subjective and depend on your school’s GPA scale and the classes you have taken. For instance, maybe you have a 4.0 GPA, but have not taken very rigorous classes at your school. This GPA will not be viewed the same as the 4.0 GPA student who has loaded up on honors, AP, and advanced classes. Generally, the rigor of the classes that you have taken is also going to be very important. This is why many scholarship providers will be looking at your weighted GPA which takes into account the rigor of the classes that you’ve taken.
Take a look at this example from Questbridge, which is a super competitive full scholarship for students with demonstrated financial need:
While there is no specific cutoff for grades and classes, there is a general requirement that is stated. Ditto for class rank as 5-10% is a pretty broad range (and obviously some schools don’t rank at all).
Generally though, the higher your GPA, the better the chance for a full scholarship. However, a 4.0 GPA in the most rigorous classes is not going to guarantee you a full ride scholarship. If you’re unsure what your current weighted or unweighted GPA is or want to know your class rank, pull up your current transcript or ask you high school counselor for help. There are other factors that will come into play that we will talk about next!
Also see: Top GPA-based scholarships
Other factors that matter for full scholarships
I think about GPA as “getting your foot in the door” for a full scholarship. These full scholarship programs focus on supporting the best and the brightest students. With this in mind, it makes sense that GPA matters. However, to get the other foot in the door, you will need to pay attention to the other factors.
These other non-GPA factors will vary from scholarship to scholarship. Some, like Questbridge, will be supporting a specific group of students (in the example of Questbridge, this would be students with significant demonstrated financial need).
Other scholarships support students with specific interests, talents, or accomplishments. This means that you want your interests, experiences, and strengths to come through in all parts of your scholarship application (especially in your essays and interviews).
Students should note that full ride scholarships may come with specific requirements and stipulations as far as GPA and living on-campus. When in doubt, you should double-check with the organization awarding the scholarship for more details.
Don’t miss: Do colleges use weighted or unweighted GPA?
What GPA do you need for an athletic scholarship?
One of the most well-known types of full scholarship is the athletic scholarship. Many Division 1 and Division 2 colleges will provide full scholarships that are primarily based on your talents in a particular sport.
However, the NCAA requires Division 1 athletic scholarship recipients to achieve a specific GPA and test scores. Some colleges and universities will also have additional requirements to be admitted. This means that a GPA is also going to help you even if you are also a star athlete who hopes to get recruited. If you want additional information about athletic scholarships, talk to your high school’s counselor or athletic director.
Also see: Top full ride scholarships
Bottom line for students
The bottom line for students is that for the most competitive full ride scholarships, you will want to have a transcript that is mainly A’s with the most competitive classes possible. However, every college and scholarship is different. With this in mind, you should cast a wide net if you are aiming for a full scholarship. To maximize your chances, make sure to apply to a range of safety, reach, and match schools.
It’s also important to remember that your college finances are typically not full-ride-or-bust. You can combine lots of small scholarships for a few more substantial ones to make college much more financially tenable. Make sure to take advantage of our scholarship lists by state and by background, as well as looking into local scholarships. Local scholarships are often a great opportunity as they will have far fewer applicants, and thus, a higher chance of success.
Good luck on your search!