Full Ride Scholarships

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A full ride scholarship is an award that covers the entire cost of attending college. Cost of attendance (COA) is tuition, room and board, text books, fees, meals and other things. For example, some full ride scholarships also pay for a laptop. Funds for personal expenses and stipend for enrichment are common too.

Where can you get a full ride scholarship? There are different sources that award full ride scholarships. The federal government, colleges, and private sources to list a few. As you might expect, they are very competitive, and many students’ dream.

What is the Difference between a Full Ride and Full Tuition?

Many use full ride and full tuition to mean the same thing but this isn’t always so.

In a full tuition scholarship that is what the award pays for. Your tuition. In other words, it may not cover your full COA. You’ll still likely need to pay room and board, textbooks, travel, laptop etc.

For example of a full tuition scholarship is the Posse Scholars Program. It is open to high school students who show academic potential. They also are leaders in their high schools and communities. Posse Scholars receive full tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner colleges and universities. Specifically, Babson College, Cornell University, Villanova and many others.

In contrast, a full ride usually spans the entire cost of college. From the big ticket items like tuition and housing. To the smaller but still costly items like books, meal plan and school oriented travel.

One example of a full ride scholarship is the University of Virginia Jefferson Scholars Foundation. This award covers the entire COA for four years at the University. Tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, and personal expenses. It also pays for extra enrichment experiences.

or instance, the University of Oregon offers the Stamps Leadership Scholarship. It pays UO tuition, room and board plus up to $12,000 in enrichment funds for their four years at the university. The extra money may cover study abroad and unpaid internships.

How do you get a full ride scholarship?

Each scholarship details varies depending on who awards it. But many share criteria and look for high achievers. Like merit based scholarships, they often go to very talented and motivated students.

Here are five things that many full ride scholarships use for eligibility:

  1. Test Scores: You may need specific scores on the PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT tests
  2. Skills and Interests: Many schools want to see that a candidate does more than get great grades. Things like leadership, initiative and volunteer experience may matter
  3. Letters of recommendation: A boss, teacher, mentor may need to write a reference letter to shed light on your personality
  4. Personal essay: You may need to write a stand out personal essay. One that goes into details about your goals and interests
  5. Grades: Good grades is important to maintain in order to receive a scholarship.

What GPA do you need to get a full scholarship?

The GPA you need to get a full ride scholarship varies. Some schools may either want a certain GPA (E.g. 3.5 or higher) or a particular class rank (E.g. top 5% or 10% in your class). You usually need to maintain the specified GPA while in a scholarship program to keep it going.


To know want a full scholarship is worth today, let’s look at the average cost of attending college. Full scholarships are available at a wide range of colleges and universities. Some cost more than others to attend.

In addition, the average cost of pursuing an undergraduate degree at a public institution is $16,757 per year. It costs $43,065 at private nonprofit institutions. Private for profit institutions cost $23,776. These prices reflect tuition, fees, room, and board.

A typical bachelor’s degree takes four years. So, a full ride scholarship at these schools may be worth averages of $67,028 (public), $172,260 (private nonprofit) and $95,104 (private for profit). Of course, if it is a full ride, it may provide funds for other expenses too.

What percentage of students get a full ride scholarship?

Full ride scholarships are rare. About 19.9 million students enrolled in one of the nation’s colleges and universities last year. Recent figures also show that only 0.2 percent of students got $25,000 or more in scholarships per year.

That said, if you are trying to get the most money for college, you may want to start with federal aid. Filling out a FAFSA is the first step. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an official form. Its purpose is to ask for federal, state and school help in paying for college.

If you get a scholarship, the financial aid office can subtract that amount from your COA. Other financial aid you are eligible for may cover any amount left over. This isn’t technically a full ride, but an option to think about. One that may make one of your dream schools within reach.


Check out our list of full ride scholarships below. We have 4,345 awards worth $41M.

Alfond Scholars Program

The Alfond Scholars Program provides full-ride scholarships for ten incoming freshman students in the college of Liberal Arts at Rollins College. Alfond Scholarships are renewable for three additional years, bringing the value of each scholarship to more than $230,000 over four years.

Total: $199040

Awards: 10

Deadline: November 01, 2020

University of Oregon Stamps Leadership Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. high school seniors plannign to attend the University of Oregon. Students must have a grade point average of 3.85 or higher and exemplify leadership, perseverance, service, and innovation. Funds can also be used for studying abroad.

Total: $125000

Awards: 5

Deadline: November 01, 2020

Robert W. Woodruff Scholarship

The Robert W. Woodruff Scholarship is the founding and signature merit scholarship of Emory University. It honors Robert W. Woodruff who headed the Coca Cola company for many years and also, supported EU. Incoming freshman students at Emory University are eligible. Tuition and fees at Emory University is $53,306 per year.

Total: $53306

Awards: 1

Deadline: November 15, 2020

Ingram Scholarship

The Ingram Scholarship provides full tuition and fees for students at Vanderbilt University who demonstrate a commitment to community outreach and service. Tuition and fees at Vanderbilt are $49,816 per year. Extra need-based financial aid will be given to recipients whose demonstrated financial need exceeds the amount of full tuition.

Total: $498160

Awards: 10

Deadline: December 01, 2020

Cards Against Humanity Science Ambassador Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. undergraduate students who identify as women and are seeking a degree in a STEM field. Students must submit a three-minute video explaining a scientific topic about which they are passionate.

Total: $60000

Awards: 1

Deadline: December 14, 2020

University of Indianapolis Presidential Scholarship

This award is available to U.S. students who are planning to attend the University of Indianapolis as freshmen. Students must have a grade point average of “A” or higher and a combined critical reading/math SAT of 1200 or above or an ACT composite score of 29 or higher.

Total: $129000

Awards: 8

Deadline: December 15, 2020

Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars (FDDS) Program

Established in 2009, the FDDS program offers American University’s most prestigious, merit-based scholarship. It includes tuition, housing, meal plan, books, mandatory fees, and public transportation. The award goes to exceptional incoming first-year student leaders committed to multidimensional excellence.

Total: $199400

Awards: 10

Deadline: December 15, 2020

Northeastern University Torch Scholars Program

This award is available to U.S high school students who are planning to attend Northeastern University, MA. Each applicant must be a first-generation college student who has overcome exceptional odds and who demonstrates the potential to excel academically.

Total: $271168

Awards: 10

Deadline: January 01, 2021

John B. Ervin Scholars Program

The John B. Ervin Scholars Program is available for undergraduate students at the Washington University in Saint Louis. Applicants must demostrate a record of leadership, community service, and diversity. Applications are due by January 2. Click here to learn more and apply today!

Total: $223596

Awards: 10

Deadline: January 02, 2021

Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program

The Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program is available for Students who apply to any undergraduate division at Washington University in Saint Louis. Applicants need to be U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Tuition and fees at Washington University in Saint Louis are $53,399 per year. Learn more and apply today!

Total: $53399

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 02, 2021

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