Whether you aspire to obtain your bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate, college education costs thousands of dollars each year for tuition, books, room and board, and more. Unfortunately, many students can’t afford college or aren’t willing to pay for it even if they can afford it.
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How To Get A PhD
Going straight to work seems more appealing in this case than ending up tens of thousands of dollars in debt. But there are colleges that give full-ride scholarships, where students can enjoy a college education essentially for free.
Ready to find out which are the US colleges with full-ride scholarships? We’ve created a list of full-ride scholarships for you to explore in this article! But first, let’s examine what a full-ride scholarship involves.
What Is a Full-Ride Scholarship?
Scholarships offer some financial support for your school expenses, but what does a full-ride scholarship cover? A full-ride scholarship covers all of your school-related expenses, including:
- Application and other fees
- Room and board
- Living cost stipends, in some cases
The idea with a full-ride scholarship is to ensure the student does not need to apply for external financial aid.
List of Colleges With Full-Ride Scholarships
Colleges With Full-Ride Scholarships
Name of Scholarship
University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)
Robertson Scholars Leadership Program
Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee)
Ingram Scholarship Program
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana)
Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)
John B. Ervin Scholars Program
Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia)
Emory Scholars Program
The University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, California)
Mork Family Scholarship
University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia)
Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Nancy Susan Reynolds Scholarship
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, North Carolina)
Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts)
Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program
College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia)
Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, Georgia)
University of Rochester (Rochester, New York)
Boston University (Boston, Massachusetts)
Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Deans' Honor Scholarship
University of Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin)
Chancellor's Scholarship Program
1. University of Chicago
A private university, the University of Chicago is quite competitive with a 7% acceptance rate. If you manage to score acceptance, you’ll have a chance at participating in the Stamps Scholars program.
The University of Chicago is a Stamps Scholar partner, which offers UChicago students with exceptional grades in their second year the chance of a $20,000 grant. Funds can certainly cover all expenses, especially if the student lives at home. The grant can go towards many learning opportunities, including research, volunteerism, international opportunities, and entrepreneurship.
2. Duke University
An Ivy League, Duke University is known for its excellent quality of education and impressive athletic opportunities. Along with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke participates in the Robertson Scholarship Leadership Program, which offers eligible students eight semesters of full tuition, fees, and room and board.
3. Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt University is known for its strong arts, engineering, and music programs. The school offers the Ingram Scholars Program to students with exceptional grades, demonstration of civic service, strength of character, and entrepreneurial attributes. The scholarship covers full tuition and room and board each year, along with funding for special summer projects.
4. University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame is the USA’s leading Catholic University, well known for its impressive business school and law school. Like the University of Chicago, Notre Dame participates in the Stamps Scholarship Program.
5. Washington University in St. Louis
Located in St. Louis Missouri, Washington University offers an exceptional quality of education in their social work program, as well as through their business school, The school’s John B. Ervin Scholars program provides eligible students with full tuition support, as well as a yearly $2,500 stipend for other expenses.
6. Emory University
Founded in 1836 Georgia, Emory University is renowned for its exceptional liberal arts program. The school’s Emory Scholars Program offers partial or full scholarships to eligible students, often choosing between 175-200 out of the 8,000-10,000 students that apply.
7. University of California
Located close to Hollywood, UCLA Los Angeles is well renowned for its television and theater program, as well as its impressive School of Dentistry. Like the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, UCLA participates in the Stamps Scholars program.
8. University of Southern California
Interested in a college football career or an exciting, adventurous career as a journalist? The University of Southern California is well known for these two callings. Every year, the school offers full-ride scholarships to 10 students through their Mork Family Scholarship, which covers full tuition, room and board, fees, as well as $5,000 per year for living expenses.
9. University of Virginia
The University of Virginia is well known for its diverse faculty and distinguished medical center. The school offers the Jefferson Scholars Program, which covers full tuition, room, and board, and other fees for eligible students.
The scholarship allows a maximum of $293,000 for non-Virginia students and $157,000 for in-state students.
10. Wake Forest University
Located in South Carolina, Wake Forest University has an impressive business school, with a renowned, 20-month MBA program. The school offers the Nancy Susan Reynolds scholarship to students that excel in their academics, test scores, and demonstrate creative and leadership abilities. The scholarship covers tuition, room and board, as well as $3,400 per year for personal expenses.
11. University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Considered a public Ivy League, the University of Michigan Ann Arbor is renowned for its STEM and business programs. Like the University of Notre Dame, Chicago, and UCLA, Ann Arbor participates in the Stamps Scholar program.
12. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill consistently ranks in the top ten lists for public universities, and offers a great college culture. Their Morehead-Cain Scholarship provides full tuition, room and board, and summer enrichment programs to eligible students that demonstrate leadership ability and strong grades.
13. Boston College
The first university to operate in Boston, Massachusetts, Boston College is renowned for its business, finance, and economics major programs. The school’s Gabelli President Scholars Program awards full-ride scholarships to 18 students every year.
14. College of William and Mary
The College of William and Mary, located in Virginia, was the first higher-education institution to offer a law school in the US. The school’s also known for its biomedical science program. Like many other universities, the College of William and Mary participates in the Stamps Scholar program.
15. Georgia Institute of Technology
As its name suggests, the Georgia Institute of Technology is renowned for its impressive research facilities and excellent academics in the STEM fields. The school participates in the Stamps Scholar program.
16. University of Rochester
The University of Rochester in New York is a renowned, private research university with excellent programs in STEM, music, and liberal arts disciplines. Its premier scholarship award is the Handler Scholarship, which offers more-than-full-tuition scholarships to students that have demonstrated overcoming serious obstacles in life, from difficult childhoods to tough environmental and political circumstances in their home countries.
17. Boston University
Boston University is known to have some of the nation’s most excellent learn-abroad programs, especially in fields of business, communication, and marketing. The school’s Trustee Scholarship offers coverage of full tuition plus fees to 20 eligible students, many of whom in the past demonstrated 4.0 GPA averages.
18. Tulane University
Known for renowned programs in business and marketing, New Orleans’ Tulane University offers full-ride scholarships to first-year students that demonstrate strong GPAs, AP placement, and extensive extracurricular activities.
19. University of Wisconsin
Located in Madison, Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin is well known for research excellence and community service. The school’s Chancellor’s Scholars Program offers tuition coverage as well as additional financial aid based on need, to students that demonstrate strong academics, leadership, and eloquence in their expression of ideas.
20. Rollins College
Known for its high graduation rate and exceptional faculty, Rollins College, located in Florida, offers the Alfond Scholars Programs to eligible students. The scholarship covers almost $280,000 for school expenses and is offered to students with a minimum 3.8 GPA and high SAT scores.
Tips on Scoring a Full-Ride Scholarship
The requirements for a full-ride scholarship are extensive but focus on a few main criteria. Check out these tips and requirements to increase your chances of scoring a full-ride scholarship:
1. Pump Up Your GPA
If you want a college to fund your entire education, you better show them that you’re serious about your grades! And, most full-ride colleges offer full-ride merit scholarships, which depend on your academic performance. The average GPA for a full-ride scholarship is 3.3, but we recommend trying to pump it even higher to increase your chances. If your GPA isn’t high, you may not have the same chances. However, don’t fret, Colleges may look at other criteria as well.
2. Study Hard for the SAT, ACT, and Other Tests
Colleges look closely at SAT and ACT scores when considering students for full-ride scholarships. Consider hiring a tutor and taking practice tests to ensure you score the highest grades possible. Individual colleges will have different thresholds, but many colleges that offer full rides expect SAT scores in the top 1-2%.
3. Ask for Letters of Recommendations Early
Think of letters of recommendation like employment reference letters. Colleges want extra assurance that the candidate they’re considering is a good scholar, worker, and overall has a strong character. Ask professors and other individuals that have witnessed your best traits in volunteerism or work for recommendation letters.
4. Take Extracurriculars
Colleges in the US are known for placing high emphasis on extracurricular activities in the admissions process. In some cases, a low GPA can be redeemed by extensive extracurricular activities, especially if you adopt a leadership role in any of them.
5. Ask for Support
College advisors and consultants help you prepare your application for best results. Contact the advisor for the college you’re applying to and set up a meeting, if possible. They may be able to give you solid advice on how to increase your chances of success.
The above list cover 20 of the best colleges for scholarships that cover almost every expenses. No matter your financial situations, colleges with full-ride scholarships offer you a chance at attending university at no expense.
Interested in further exploring scholarship opportunities? Apply for The College Monk’s No-Essay Scholarship!
Getting a full-ride scholarship is not easy. They are pretty rare and, as expected, are highly competitive. But, the thought that you will be able to graduate without any debt can be tremendously empowering.Is it rare to get a full-ride scholarship? ›
Getting a full-ride scholarship is not easy. They are pretty rare and, as expected, are highly competitive. But, the thought that you will be able to graduate without any debt can be tremendously empowering.How to increase the chances of getting a full-ride scholarship? ›
Full-ride academic scholarship: Be at the top of your class with a great GPA, take AP/honors classes, and get perfect (or close to perfect) SAT or ACT scores. Along with academic merit, it also helps to also have leadership skills or community involvement, too (see below).Can I get a full-ride scholarship with a 4.2 GPA? ›
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 ACT score is needed for full-ride scholarships? ›
Overall, my research so far has been surprising in that there are a few schools that will offer full-tuition scholarships starting in the 22 – 25 ACT range, but most full-ride scholarships require a 28 ACT or higher.What is a good GPA for a full ride 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.What is the hardest scholarship to get? ›
- Rhodes Scholarship.
- Fullbright Scholarship.
- Gates Cambridge Scholarship.
- Princeton Scholarship.
- Mitchell Scholarship.
- Churchill Scholarship.
- Marshall Scholarship.
- Jardine Scholarship.
- Play the scholarship “lotto” ...
- Go for “no” or “low” GPA scholarships. ...
- Tap your parents' network. ...
- Pre-package your application materials. ...
- Use social media. ...
- Embrace failure.
What Is a Good GPA in High School? The average high school GPA is around 3.0, or a B average. This also happens to be the minimum requirement for many college scholarships, though a 3.5 or higher is generally preferable. GPA plays a key role in college admissions.Where is the best place to look for scholarships? ›
- the financial aid office at a college or career school.
- a high school or TRIO counselor.
- the U.S. Department of Labor's FREE scholarship search tool.
- federal agencies.
- your state grant agency.
- your library's reference section.
Working to obtain a high SAT score won't just help you when applying to colleges – it can also help you win scholarships. Many colleges and universities offer merit-based scholarships dependent on your SAT score. Studying hard for the SAT can really pay off!Is a 4.75 weighted GPA good? ›
At most high schools, this means that the highest GPA you can get is a 5.0. A 4.5 GPA indicates that you're in very good shape for college. You're most likely in high level classes earning As and high Bs. 99.74% of schools have an average GPA below a 4.5.What do full ride scholarships look for? ›
Most students earn full ride scholarships because of their academic history, athletic prowess, leadership or merit. But other types of these scholarships can be offered by schools for different reasons, and they can be offered by the school, state or federal government or by private organizations.Can I get a full ride with a 27 ACT score? ›
An ACT score of 27 makes you eligible for merit aid from both your potential institution and third-party scholarship providers.Will a 27 on the ACT get you scholarships? ›
The short answer? In many cases, above 30 is a good ACT score for scholarships.What GPA do you need to get a scholarship to Harvard? ›
Recipients are chosen on the basis of financial need and academic merit. Scholarship applicants must have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.33 or higher. See important information about enrollment status for Special Students in Enrollment Considerations.What GPA do you need for a d1 scholarship? ›
To be academically eligible for a DI scholarship your student-athlete needs to have at least a 2.3 GPA on a 4.0 scale. However, it's not quite as simple as looking at their transcript and checking the overall GPA.What GPA do you need to get into Harvard? ›
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 rare is it to get a full-ride? ›
Because full-ride scholarships are such a good deal, you probably won't be surprised to find out they're pretty rare. In fact, fewer than 20,000 students per year win full-ride scholarships — less than 1% of each year's incoming college freshmen.What are the chances of getting a full-ride scholarship for sports? ›
How do you get a full-ride athletic scholarship? Most student-athletes do not receive a full-ride scholarship—in fact, only 1 percent do.
Odds of Winning 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.
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.