Full Ride Scholarships

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What is a Full Ride Scholarship?

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 Scholarship?

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.

One example of a full tuition scholarship is the Posse Scholars Program. It is open to high school students who show academic potential. They also leaders in their high schools and communities. Posse Scholars receive full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner colleges and universities. Among them 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.

Like this one, 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?

The specific details for getting a full-ride scholarship do vary. 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 as metrics 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 - Most full ride scholarships look at your grades. What they are and whether you are consistent in maintaining them

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.

How Much is a Full Scholarship Worth?

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.

At last check, 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. So, a full ride scholarship is something very few students may get.

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.

Top Full Ride Scholarships for 2019

Which colleges give full scholarships? Check out the top full ride scholarships for 2019.

University of Chicago Stamps Scholarship

The University of Chicago Stamps Scholarship is available for sophomore students at the University of Chicago. Applicants must demonstrate a record of leadership, perseverance, scholarship, service, and innovation.

Total: $20000 Awards:  10
Deadline:  February 1
2020

Grace College National Merit Finalist Scholarship

This award is available to U.S. students who plan to attend Grace College & Theological Seminary as freshmen. The student must be recognized as a National Merit Finalist.

Total: $22450 Awards:  25
Deadline:  March 1
2020

Columbia College of Missouri Phi Theta Kappa Honor Scholarship

This award is for U.S. students who have an associate in arts degree, associate in science degree, or at least 60 transferable hours and are planning to transfer to Columbia College of Missouri. Students must be a member of Phi Theta Kappa and have a grade point average of 3.6 or higher.

Total: $21000 Awards:  1
Deadline:  March 31
2020

Dream BIG Scholarship

This scholarship program is open to U.S. students who are currently employed in any role within the retail or restaurant industries and plan to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree to further their career within the retail or restaurant industries. This scholarship covers full tuition at the University of Phoenix (any campus location or online).

Total: $12669 Awards:  20
Deadline:  March 31
2020

FIU National Recognition Scholarship Program

This scholarship is open to first-time entering freshmen at Florida International University. Students must have a grade point average of 4.0 or higher, an ACT score of 30 or higher or an SAT score of 2000 or higher, and be National Merit/Achievement/Hispanic finalists.

Total: $6570 Awards:  200
Deadline:  October 15
2020

FIU Presidential Scholarship

This scholarship is open to first-time entering freshmen at Florida International University. Students must have a grade point average of 4.0 or higher, and an ACT score of 30 or higher or an SAT score of 2000 or higher.

Total: $6777 Awards:  50
Deadline:  October 15
2020

Stamp’s President’s Scholars Program

Georgia Tech established the Stamps President’s Scholarship in 1981. Also known as the President's Scholarship Program it is a four-year, full-ride scholarship. Each year, the university awards these scholarships to recipients from the top one percent of first-year students. It bases decisions on holistic excellence and potential with the program's four pillars. Scholarship, Leadership, Progress, and Service. A Stamps President's Scholarship (SPS) includes all tuition and fees. Also, meals and h...

Total: $49944 Awards:  40
Deadline:  October 15
2020

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.

Total: $49760 Awards:  10
Deadline:  November 1
2020

University of Oregon Stamps Leadership Scholarship

This scholarship is open to U.S. high school seniors who plan to attend the University of Oregon, and are residents of and graduating from a high school in Oregon. Students must: have a grade point average of 3.85 or higher; have an SAT score of 1300 or higher or an ACT score of 28 or higher; and exemplify leadership, perseverance, scholarship, service, and innovation.

Total: $31250 Awards:  5
Deadline:  November 1
2020

Full-Tuition Scholarship at Central Christian College of the Bible

This full-tuition scholarship is available to all students who enroll at Central Christian College of the Bible in Moberly, Missouri.

Total: $9600 Awards:  100
Deadline: 

Idaho Armed Forces/Public Safety Officer Dependent Scholarship

This scholarship is open to Idaho undergraduate students who are the children or spouses of military members or public safety officers who were killed, imprisoned, missing in action, or permanently disabled. Students must attend a public Idaho college or university.

Total: $10700 Awards:  6
Deadline: 

Starbucks College Achievement Plan

The Starbucks College Achievement Plan is available for all U.S.-based, benefits-eligible partners employed by Starbucks-owned businesses—including Evolution Fresh—regardless of role, who do not yet have a bachelor’s degree.

Total: $50000 Awards:  1
Deadline: