While full-ride scholarships are the unicorns of the scholarship world, they’re not impossible to get. In fact, there are a number of colleges with full-ride scholarships for high-achieving students.
As for the requirements of full-ride scholarships, they are typically merit-based. Needless to say, they’re very competitive, but definitely worth a shot if you’re a strong student.
Here are 14 to check out as you search for money for college, along with ways to get a full-ride scholarship for college.
U.S. colleges with full ride scholarships
If you get accepted to any of the colleges on this list, you could have a shot at a scholarship that covers your full tuition costs:
1. American University
2. Boston College
3. Boston University
4. Duke University
5. Indiana University
6. Northeastern University
7. Louisiana State University
8. Ohio State University
9. University of Alabama
10. University of Richmond
11. University of Southern California
12. University of Texas at Austin
13. University of Virginia
14. Vanderbilt University
1. American University, the Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program
American University awards students for their academic excellence and commitment to solving social problems through their Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars program.
This full-ride scholarship covers tuition, room, board, books and student fees. Students who are first in their families to attend college get preference. Most recipients have at least a 3.8 unweighted grade point average.
2. Boston College, Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program
Boston College’s Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program provides a full-ride scholarship, as well as fully-funded summer programs to 15 new freshmen each year. There’s no separate application for this award; Boston College chooses recipients based on their college application.
It looks for students with high academic achievement, a record of leadership and interest in community service. To remain in the program all four years, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.5.
3. Boston University, Trustee Scholars Program
Boston University awards the prestigious Trustee Scholarship to about 20 students each year.
To qualify, you need to have a record of academic and extracurricular achievements. You’ll also write a 600-word essay on one of Boston University’s given prompts.
Besides the Trustee Scholarship, Boston University also awards Presidential Scholarships. They cover $25,000 in tuition every year.
4. Duke University, Robertson Scholars Leadership Program
The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program provides a select few Duke University students with four years of full tuition and room and board. It also funds summer experiences, conference tickets and two semesters of study abroad.
The application for the Robertson Scholars program opens on August 15 every year, and semi-finalists are invited for Skype interviews. Both entering freshmen and current Duke students are invited to apply.
5. Indiana University, the Wells Scholars Program
Indiana University’s Wells Scholarship tends to go to students in the top 5% of their class who have a history of community involvement and leadership.
The program includes full tuition, support for a summer internship, research project or other enriching experience and academic and career mentoring.
To get this full ride scholarship, your school needs to nominate you. So if you’re interested, talk to your school counselor about submitting a nomination.
6. Northeastern University, Torch Scholars Program
Northeastern joins the list of colleges with full-ride scholarships, but its Torch Scholars Program is uniquely designed for first-generation students who have persevered through difficult situations or unfavorable environments and have shown leadership in their communities. While about 500 students pursue the Torch Scholarship each year, just 10 are selected.
These winners receive a full-ride scholarship, along with a summer immersion program, academic planning, peer and professional mentoring and various social events. To be considered for a Torch scholarship, you must be nominated by a guidance counselor, teacher, mentor or other adult.
7. Louisiana State University, Stamps Scholarship
The Stamps Scholarship covers the cost of attendance at Louisiana State University (LSU) for four years. Beyond tuition, it offers up to $14,000 for supplemental learning experiences.
LSU is able to give this scholarship because of its partnership with the Stamps Foundation. Besides LSU, the Stamps Foundation partners with over 40 other colleges and universities.
8. Ohio State University, Eminence Scholarship and Program
Students with academic distinction, a sense of social responsibility and a desire to solve societal problems can apply to become Eminence Fellows. Ohio State awards this full-ride scholarship to students who have demonstrated leadership and scholarship both inside and outside the classroom.
9. University of Alabama, Academic Elite Scholarship
The University of Alabama will award eight Academic Elite Scholarships in the 2020-21 year. This full-ride scholarship doesn’t just cover tuition, but also provides a yearly stipend to cover living expenses and supplies.
Seven winners will receive a stipend of $8,500 per year, while the top student will receive $8,500 their first year and $18,500 each year after that. They’ll also win $5,000 for study abroad. Plus, all winners will receive $500 per year to use on books.
To be eligible for this award, a student must first be accepted into the University of Alabama’s University Fellows Experience, which requires a separate application. If they are, a guidance counselor, teacher or other high school representative can then nominate them for an Academic Elite Scholarship.
10. University of Richmond, Richmond Scholars Program
The Richmond Scholars Program is a full-ride scholarship that you don’t have to apply for. The University of Richmond automatically considers all applicants for the scholarship and awards students with leadership skills, a desire to serve society, or exceptional artistic talent.
In addition to tuition, the program grants you a $3,000 stipend for the activity of your choice. Richmond Scholars also get special tickets for cultural events and priority course registration.
11. University of Southern California, Trustee Scholarship
All students who apply to the University of Southern California will be considered for its full-tuition scholarship, the Trustee Scholarship. The number of awards varies each year, and scholarship finalists are required to interview. Among the selection criteria for this full-ride scholarship are academic excellence, leadership and community service.
12. University of Texas at Austin, Forty Acres Scholars Program
In addition to a full-ride scholarship, the Forty Acres Scholars Program also has a strong community component. Recipients learn and grow with their Forty Acres community throughout their four years at University of Texas, Austin.
Qualifying candidates have a strong academic record and show leadership potential. And if you win this scholarship, you’ll also get a stipend for living, books and various enriching experiences.
13. University of Virginia, Jefferson Scholarship
Students who win the Jefferson Scholarship can enjoy fully-funded tuition, along with supplemental enrichment experiences. But winning this scholarship isn’t easy — it involves a rigorous selection process.
First, students must be nominated by their school. Then, they must make it through one or two rounds of interviews before heading to the UVA campus for the Jefferson Scholars Selection weekend. Once there, they’ll participate in seminars led by professors, a written exercise, a math and logic exam and another personal interview.
At the end of the weekend, a committee will select the winners. In the 2018-19 year, 38 students were selected to be Jefferson Scholars from more than 2,000 nominees.
14. Vanderbilt University, Ingram Scholars Program, Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship, Chancellor’s Scholarship
Vanderbilt University offers not one but three full-ride scholarships to incoming students. All three require a separate application in addition to the Vanderbilt admissions application.
About 250 scholarship winners receive fully-funded tuition and a stipend for summer study abroad, research or service projects. Plus, students with financial need will receive additional funding.
Winners are selected based on such qualities as leadership, academic achievement, civic-minded service and strength of character.
How to get a full-ride scholarship for college
Generally, private colleges award most full-ride scholarships to students at the top of their class. Therefore, scholarship committees are looking for students with excellent grades, a record of leadership and community involvement.
If you’re a top student, you may have your sights set on an Ivy League school, such as Harvard or Princeton. However, it may be in your best interest to consider another college where you could get a full-ride scholarship.
You’ll still get an outstanding education, and you could be part of a motivated, inspiring community. Rather than choosing the most highly ranked school, consider striking a different balance. You could find a school that offers both a top-notch education and scholarship money.
In the end, you could save money on student loans. And, once you graduate, you’ll be able to hit the ground running, debt-free.
Where else can you find scholarship money? Check out these 10 wacky and unusual scholarships that could help pay your tuition.
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