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What is a Full-Ride Scholarship?

When it comes to college admissions and financial aid, there’s not much more you can ask for than a full-ride scholarship. You’ve probably seen this term many times, but you may not be entirely sure what it means. In this article, we’ll give you a firm definition of full-ride scholarships and go on to guide you through some ways to find and apply for them. We’ll also clear up the differences between full-ride and full-tuition. Let’s get into it!

Also see: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

What is a full-ride scholarship?

A full-ride scholarship covers all of the expenses associated with your college education. That includes tuition, room and board, books, fees, and more. Oftentimes, they come with a college stipend to pay for the expenses that can’t be easily catalogued. These can include paying for internet, transportation to and from school, and similar expenses.

So, essentially, with full-ride scholarships, you are completely taken care of financially. You will not have to worry about making ends meet. This is the best financial situation you can be in in college. You probably won’t need a job on campus, unless your family needs you to send money home to them, or if you need to pay for your own housing over the summers and breaks.

Also see: How to pay for college if you don’t have money

Ways to earn a full-ride scholarship

You can earn a full-ride scholarship through a variety of avenues. Here are some of the most common ways students earn them:

Oftentimes, students can earn a full-ride scholarship through a combination of these factors. If a school finds you to have shown impressive academic merit and athletics, and they see that you have financial need, they are more likely to offer you a full-ride to ensure that you attend their school.

Full-ride vs full-tuition scholarships

Full-ride and full-tuition scholarships may sound similar, but there is a big difference between them. While full-ride scholarships cover all the costs of college, full-tuition scholarships do not. They only cover tuition, leaving the student responsible for room and board, books, and other expenses. Over the course of your four years, this may result in a difference of around $80,000.

This is not to say that full-tuition scholarships are not impressive. They will save you a huge amount of money, and you can use them in conjunction with other scholarships to help pay for other expenses. However, the difference is very significant; full-ride scholarships are highly preferable to full-tuition.

Institutional vs private full-ride scholarships

Full-ride scholarships may be offered by both education institutions and private organizations or companies. While the source of the scholarship may differ, the result will be the same; they will pay for all of your educational expenses. So, it’s a good idea to pursue both institutional and private full-ride scholarships. It’s true that the scholarships are rare and can be hard to earn. But the chances will always be better if you take advantage of every opportunity out there. You miss all the shots you don’t take!

Other ways to go to college for free

Full-ride scholarships are an amazing opportunity to improve college accessibility and remove any financial stressors for your education. However, they are extremely rare. In fact, only 0.2 percent of students received more than $25,000 per year in scholarships in 2014. But don’t fret – there are other ways to go to college for free. And, while it’s not free, there are tuition-free schools out there. We have a list of schools in the US that do not charge tuition, as well as schools abroad that charge little to no tuition. Good luck in your search, and we hope that you secure a full ride!

Also see: Top full-ride scholarships for high school students

Summing it up

  • Full-ride scholarships cover all the expenses associated with your college education. These include tuition, room and board, books, and often even include stipends
  • You can earn a full-ride scholarship through financial need, academic merit, athletics, government programs, or a combination of the above
  • Full-tuition scholarships do not cover expenses beyond tuition, but full-ride ones do
  • Both institutions and private organizations and nonprofits offer full-ride scholarships
  • If you are looking to go to college for free, you can also investigate attending tuition-free colleges in the US or abroad