Most students today need financial support to pursue a college education. Though it may not be surprising that the cost of higher education at national universities has risen 179% from 1995-2015, many are unaware of the sharp rise in fees and other costs outside of tuition, including technology fees and on-campus recreation center access costs. This totals an average of more than $2,000 in recent years. Luckily, to help students offset these costs, there are many federal, state, and private groups and organizations that offer a variety of scholarships to eligible students based on merit, cultural background, and type of program.
While every scholarship is special, there are some exceptional standouts from organizations generous enough to give millions (or even billions!) in scholarship money every year to college students. From awards that provide a full scholarship, or "free ride," to others that more than cover the bulk of expensive degree program costs, the size and breadth of the 10 biggest scholarships for college students will take your breath away. Read on to learn more about how to apply for and access these funds.
The Miss America Foundation is the largest provider of big college scholarships to young women in the U.S. The Miss America Organization, comprised of more than 50 licensed funding groups, is responsible for millions of dollars in scholarship aid at the local, state, and national level. In 2014 alone, Miss America awarded nearly $6 million in scholarships. The organization offers several different types of awards, including Miss America Scholar, Miss America Community Service Scholarship, Quality of Life Awards, the Dr. & Mrs. David B. Allman Scholarship, and the Eugenia Vellner Fischer Award for the Performing Arts. A unique STEM-program scholarship is also available to women pursuing careers in this historically male-dominated field.
- Amount Awarded: Varies, up to $12,000
- Deadline: Varies
United Negro College Fund
The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is famous for providing the scholarship funds necessary to send more than 10,000 students to college each year. One of the best college scholarships and as the nation’s largest minority scholarship provider of more than 400 different scholarships, internships, and fellowships, UNCF helps low- to moderate-income students attend college when they otherwise might not have had the opportunity. Among the most unique UNCF scholarship programs is the Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship Awards, with awards ranging from $35,000 to $85,000 for students in bioscience and biotechnology programs.
- Amount Awarded: Varies
- Deadline: Varies
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program
As one of the biggest scholarships provided by the United Negro College Fund (UNCF,) the Gates Millennium Scholars Program helps an average of 1,000 college students attend college each year, averaging an award of nearly $13,000 per student between 2000 and 2014. Offered alongside several post-secondary awards given through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is a $1.6 million initiative designed to support minorities pursuing a college education.
- Amount Awarded: $12,785 (average)
- Deadline: January 13
Davidson Fellows Scholarships
Although the Davidson Fellows Scholarship program does not reach annual giving goals as high as some other programs on this list, the program is especially impressive for its individual high-dollar awards. The award is one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships in the world, offering $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000 scholarships to college students who have made significant contributions in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, literature, music, and philosophy. Students may also be eligible for a separate "Outside the Box" award. Since its inception, the Davidson Institute has given more than $6.7 million to 286 scholarship recipients.
- Amount Awarded: Up to $50,000
- Deadline: February 8
Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
Each year, Coca-Cola supports more than 1,400 students by providing $3.45 million in scholarships across three national programs. The largest of these scholarships, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, awards big college scholarships of $20,000 to 150 exceptional high school seniors entering college who are academically accomplished and show potential for outstanding leadership in their schools and communities. Additional awards provided by Coca-Cola include the Community College Academic Team and the Leaders of Promise program, each selecting 200 recipients annually for awards ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.
- Amount Awarded: Up to $20,000
- Deadline: August
Like Coca-Cola, American car maker Buick generously channels much of its corporate wealth back into promoting student success in higher education through corporate scholarships. Funded by the GM Corporation, the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program offers large scholarships of $25,000 -- one of the biggest award amounts available -- to 50 college students each year, for up to 4 to 5 years. During the course of their entire college career, a Buick Achievers Scholarship winner can potentially receive $125,000 toward the full cost of their education. Designed to attract applicants interested in becoming the Buick car makers of the future, Buick also awards 1,000 one-time scholarships of $2,000 annually to students interested in engineering, design, and business, in addition to this single large award.
- Amount Awarded: $25,000
- Deadline: Varies
Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program
Each year, Foot Locker gives twenty $20,000 scholarships to student athletes who are high school seniors planning to continue their sports career at a four-year accredited university immediately after graduation. The Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program is designed to promote not only academic leadership, but also fair sportsmanship and strong moral character among its candidates. In addition to the Scholar Athletes award, one of the 20 recipients will also be awarded the Ken C. Hicks Scholarship, which adds an additional $5,000 to the total gift amount. The Scholar Athletes award of $20,000 is separated into equal annual payments over the course of four years.
- Amount Awarded: $20,000
- Deadline: December 30
Gates Cambridge Scholarship
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship was established in 2000 after Bill and Melinda Gates gave the UK university the largest-ever single donation of its kind, in the amount of $210 million. The Gates' generous gift has provided "full-ride" scholarships for more than 1,400 Cambridge students, awarding nearly 100 new applicants each year. The award amount varies per student, but it is designed to include not only the full cost of tuition and fees relevant to the student's degree, but also childcare (if applicable), fieldwork, continuing education costs for graduate students, maternity/paternity funding, and maintaining a student visa. The award even includes a single economy airfare ticket at the beginning and end of each course.
- Amount Awarded: Varies
- Deadline: October 12 (for U.S. residents)
D.C. Leadership 1000 Scholarship
Sponsored by various corporate and private benefactors aiming to support underprivileged college students in Washington, D.C., the D.C. Leadership 1000 Scholarship is unique in that its criteria can be somewhat customized on a case-by-case basis. Generally, eligibility is open to first-time and returning college students who plan to engage in full-time study in the coming fall term at a four-year institution in the D.C. area, though requirements may change slightly according to the donor of the award. Scholarships are typically $5,000 per year for up to five years of college study, totaling $25,000 over the course of the degree.
- Amount Awarded: Up to $25,000
- Deadline: April 14
Dell Scholars Program
Sponsored by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, the Dell Scholars Program is awarded annually to 300 college students who have overcome significant socioeconomic disadvantages to pursue a college degree. In addition to providing a laptop and textbook funding, Dell Scholars receive large scholarships of $20,000 to put toward their undergraduate education. Eligible candidates are high school seniors who have completed the foundation's approved college readiness program in grades 11 and 12, and who are planning to attend a four-year program immediately after graduation.
- Amount Awarded: $20,000
- Deadline: January 15
A scholarship that offers $25,000 to $49,999 is still worth the student's time and effort. Even a scholarship worth $500 deserves an application, since every dollar won is a dollar less borrowed. There are many more scholarships at these award levels, but here are a dozen of the most famous scholarships.What is the largest scholarship available? ›
- Levine Scholars Program. ...
- Collegiate Inventors Competition. ...
- Dr. ...
- Ronald McDonald House Charities US Scholarship. ...
- Thiel Fellowship. ...
- Leonard Bernstein Fellowship. ...
- NIH Undergraduate Scholarship Program.
- Rhodes Scholarship.
- Fullbright Scholarship.
- Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
- Princeton Scholarship.
- Mitchell Scholarship.
- Churchill Scholarship.
- Marshall Scholarship.
- Jardine Scholarship.
A scholarship that offers $25,000 to $49,999 is still worth the student's time and effort. Even a scholarship worth $500 deserves an application, since every dollar won is a dollar less borrowed. There are many more scholarships at these award levels, but here are a dozen of the most famous scholarships.Can you get a 100% scholarship to us? ›
Some universities offer a 100% tuition fee waiver while some institutions offer a partial waiver. Similarly, some organizations allow you to spend money on specific things only. Like some of the scholarships cover only the tuition fee and living costs while some also include airfare and other expenses.What is the 5 strong scholarship? ›
The mission of the 5 Strong Scholarship Foundation is to increase the retention and graduation rates at partnering Historically Black Colleges and Universities by assisting in the enrollment and success of academically promising student leaders until graduation.What is the highest GPA to get a scholarship? ›
Minimum requirements range from around 2.0 on the lower end to 3.75 or higher for competitive academic scholarships. Generally speaking, a 3.0 GPA or higher will give you a decent shot at qualifying for a variety of scholarships.How much is the Bill Gates scholarship? ›
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is another Gates minority scholarship. The program grants an average of $12,785 to 1,000 annually-selected scholars.What is the biggest scholarship in the US? ›
One of the largest scholarships, the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation program, is an achievement-based scholarship. The three areas evaluated are leadership, academics and service. Scholarships are awarded to graduating high school seniors planning to pursue a degree at an accredited US college or university.What is the highest paid scholarship in USA? ›
The Fulbright scholarship is one of the most rated scholarship in the Unites States of America. The scholarship provides full funding for masters and PhD degree programmes in universities in USA.
A 4.0 Grade Point Average is not only a high GPA, it's an impressive GPA that's sure to catch the eyes of many scholarship providers. Since the minimum GPA for a full-ride scholarship is usually set at 3.5, a 4.0 is sure to always be above and beyond what's required.What is the Obama scholarship? ›
The Obama Foundation Scholars program will give rising leaders from the United States and around the world who are already making a difference in their communities the opportunity to take their work to the next level through an immersive curriculum that brings together academic, skills-based, and hands-on learning.How rare is a full scholarship? ›
How hard is it to get a full ride scholarship? Less than 1 percent of students get full ride scholarships, showing just how difficult it is to earn one. However, with the right background, proper planning and by knowing where to look, your chances of landing a full ride scholarship can increase.How rare is it to win a scholarship? ›
Only about 1 in 8 college students wins a scholarship, and the average amount used to pay for college is about $4,200 a year. Very few students win $25,000 or more in scholarships each year (only about 0.1%). Among the students who win scholarships, 97% win $2,500 or less.How rare is a full scholarship to Harvard? ›
Harvard does not offer any merit-based aid and no full-ride scholarships. However, they do meet 100% of students' demonstrated financial needs. Almost half of the batch at Harvard University avails need-based scholarships or financial aid every year.Is there a free university in USA? ›
The University of the People is the first nonprofit college for free for students who want to finish their degrees online. As one of the few free colleges in the United States, the University of the People offers degrees in computer science, education, health science, and business administration.How do you win a big scholarship? ›
- Create an accomplishments resume. ...
- Don't miss deadlines. ...
- Complete the scholarship matching profile thoroughly. ...
- Apply to as many scholarships as possible. ...
- Look for scholarship listing books. ...
- Find local scholarships on bulletin boards. ...
- Tap into family connections.
Leadership and academic scholarships are the two most common types of scholarships awarded by colleges. A leadership scholarship is awarded for participation in school and extra-curricular activities, as well as for academic excellence.What is a 9.9 scholarship? ›
As an example, in NCAA D1 men's soccer, you are allowed to give out a limit of 9.9 scholarships for the entire team. Most teams carry an average of 29 players, so the coach is forced to give out partial scholarships to maximize the use of those 9.9 among more players.Is 3.40 A Good GPA? ›
A 3.4 is comfortably above the national average GPA for high school graduates and is considered competitive at most colleges and universities. It also approaches the 3.5 GPA that more selective schools use as an unofficial benchmark.
The average high school GPA of admitted students at Harvard is around 4.2. 73% of students had a GPA of at least 4.0, indicating that admitted students typically mostly earned A grades in high school. If you're studying the IB, this translates to scoring mostly 7s and achieving a minimum score of at least 42.How much scholarship money do most people get? ›
The average institutional scholarship award is $6,335.How much money do most scholarships give? ›
Typically in the range of $50 to $500, they could cover a semester's worth of textbooks or lab fees. Many times, a smaller scholarship will have fewer requirements and be less competitive.