Can My ACT Score Get Me a Scholarship?
What is the ACT and why does it matter to colleges and other scholarship providers? The ACT is a national college admissions examination. It measures students' skills, knowledge, and potential across four areas:
The way the ACT scoring works is on a scale of 1–36. This applies to each of the four sections. Your composite ACT score is an average of your 4 section scores.
How do you figure out if a scholarship has an ACT requirement? Each scholarship you find spells out who is eligible to apply. ACT-based scholarships may give out funds based on your academic standing.
These may spell out specific grades and test scores. But some also list test scores as optional. In this case (and if yours are above the norm) it may be useful to include them. Or, speak with someone from the scholarship committee for guidance.
So, what is a good ACT score for a scholarship? A "good" ACT score depends on the colleges and universities you want to apply to.
The highest possible score on the ACT is 36. The current national average ACT score is 21. This means some states have higher than average scores. Others by default, have lower scores. There are also different averages for each subject:
|% of Graduates Tested||Average Composite Score||Average English Score||Average Math Score||Average Reading Score||Average Science Score|
To find more ACTs scholarships you can also make a list of colleges you want to apply to. Then see if they list any merit scholarships. If that doesn’t help, you can back track and check the school’s financial aid page. Here are the top upcoming scholarships which factor in ACT scores to get you started:
What ACT scores do colleges look for?
A score of 23 on the ACT is above the current national average. As such, it may make you a strong applicant at many universities. But it may fall below the average score for accepted students at some selective colleges.
For example, scoring above 30 puts you in the 90th percentile of ACT test-takers. This means you scored above 90 out of a hundred others who took the same test.
The higher your ACT score, the more options may be open to you.
A few examples of ACT score ranges for colleges and universities:
|College or University||ACT Composite Score 75% Percentile||ACT Composite Score 25% Percentile|
|Texas A & M University - San Antonio||17||19|
|Columbia University - NYC||33||35|
|University of Pennsylvania||32||35|
|Santa Clara University||28||32|
|Loyola University Chicago||25||30|
|Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota||20||26|
|University of Colorado||25||31|
|University of Knoxville - Tennessee||25||31|
Can you get scholarships with a 21 ACT score?
In many states, the average composite score is below 20. So, there may be scholarships available if you score a 21 on the ACT. One example is the CIA Undergraduate Scholarship which pays $18,000 per year.
But usually, the score you need to get a scholarship depends on the college you apply to. The location (state) of the college may also play a role.
Let’s take a look at 13 states where the average ACT score is below 20:
|State||Average Composite Score|
What is the minimum ACT score for scholarships?
There may be many scholarships you qualify for with ACT scores in the low 20’s at least. It depends which colleges you are looking at. Many colleges assess you on your score range.
Some examples of scholarships by ACT score using common ranges are below. There are many more, but this shows that at each range, scholarships exist. As such, ACT scores from 26 to 30 may open up avenues that a range of 18-21 may not. Or, they may enable you to be eligible to receive more funds.
|ACT Score Range||Example of Scholarships by ACT Score (There are many more!)|
|10 to 15||AIEF Scholarship|
|16 to 20||Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship|
|21 to 25||Jackie Robinson Scholarship|
|26 to 30||Chicago Roofing Contractors Association (CRCA) Scholarship|
|31 to 36||Craig and Galen Brown Foundation Scholarship. Also many universities use this range to award full-ride scholarships|
Why Consider Using ACT Scores for a Merit Scholarship?
More than 1.9 million people took the ACT test in 2018. While the test has not changed much over time, the percentage of perfect scores is on the rise.
One study reports that a decade ago, one of every 2,600 students got a perfect score. In 2018, one of every 500 nailed a perfect score.
But you don’t have to get a perfect ACT score to get a merit scholarship. All 4-year colleges and universities in the United States accept ACT test scores.
Here are a few other reasons to use your ACT scores for merit scholarships:
- Taking the ACT may help colleges and scholarship organizations look at your application
- Some colleges award scholarships based on your ACT scores. One example is Baylor University. They offer scholarships ranging from $40,000 to $84,000 based on a combination of test scores and class rank (or GPA if school is non-ranking)
- Higher test scores may also lead to more scholarship dollars. This might mean more scholarships to apply to. Or more money in your pocket as a result of your grades. One example is the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For ACT scores of 34 to 36 one may get $5,000 more per year than for scores in the 29 to 30 range
- Being rewarded for good grades is one way to make college more affordable. At last check, the average amount of scholarship and grant aid received by undergrads is $11,810
- Unlike a loan, you do not have to pay back ACT scholarship funds. Though you do have to abide by their terms. This may mean striving to maintain a specific GPA
- Certain ACT/SAT scores may place you in the running for a full-ride scholarship
- Recipients and finalists of the National Merit Scholarship may also be eligible for other awards and aid. The National Merit Scholarship looks at PSAT scores
Which Test is Better for Scholarships? The ACT or SAT?
Both ACT and SAT scores may be a factor for college admissions decisions. Also, for awarding merit-based scholarships.
This is because in general, the ACT and SAT tests cover the same topics. As such, many colleges do not prefer one test over the other.
For some students the decision boils down to one of comfort. You may want to take a full-length practice test to help you decide. Or, take both tests as many students do.
Top ACT Scholarships for 2019
To find more ACTs scholarships you can also make a list of colleges you want to apply to. Then see if they list any merit scholarships. If that doesn’t help, you can back track and check the school’s financial aid page. Here are the top scholarships which factor in ACT scores to get you started.
- Athletic Scholarships
- College-Specific Scholarships
- Company-Sponsored Scholarships
- Grants for College
- Merit-Based Scholarships
- Minority Scholarships
- Our Scholarships
- Scholarship Contests & Sweepstakes
- Scholarships by Major
- Scholarships by State
- Scholarships by Type
- Scholarships for Graduate Students
- Scholarships for High School Students
- Scholarships for Undergraduate Students
- Weird Scholarships
- $1,500 - I Have a Dream Scholarship
- $10,000 - Unigo $10K Scholarship
- $1,500 - Sweet and Simple Scholarship
- $2,500 - Superpower Scholarship
- $3,000 - All About Education Scholarship
- $1,500 - Fifth Month Scholarship
- $1,500 - Do-Over Scholarship
- $1,500 - Flavor of the Month Scholarship
- $1,500 - Make Me Laugh Scholarship
- $1,500 - Shout It Out Scholarship
- $2,000 - Zombie Apocalypse Scholarship
- $5,000 - Education Matters Scholarship
- $1,500 - Top Ten List Scholarship