Private Student Loans for 2024
How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

6 Full-Ride Scholarships That Cover Tuition and More

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Full-ride scholarships are awards that cover your full cost of attendance at college. This cost includes tuition, room and board, meals, books, fees and more. Some full-ride scholarships even include stipends for personal expenses or enrichment experiences.

Full-tuition scholarships are also generous, though they typically only cover tuition costs. These scholarships usually don’t pay for things like room and board or personal expenses.

As you can imagine, full-ride and full-tuition scholarships are the unicorns of the scholarship world. But while rare, it is possible to snag a full-ride award that reduces your bills to zero.

We’ve collected six full-tuition/full-ride scholarships to help you learn more, plus some tips on how to win one.

6 full-tuition and full-ride scholarships that could save you thousands

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a helpful launching off point for your scholarship search. Note that the deadlines are often subject to change, so be sure to check out your scholarship website(s) of choice before you start your application.

1. Gates Millennium Scholars program

Deadline (2021): Sept. 15

The Gates Millennium Scholars program covers unmet financial need for “African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American and/or Hispanic American students”. You need to have a GPA of at least 3.3, along with a commitment to service and leadership.

To win the Gates Millennium Scholarship, your school needs to nominate you. You also need to answer several essay questions. If you think you could qualify, speak to a teacher, counselor or your principal about next steps.

2. Regeneron Science Talent Search

Deadline (2021): Nov. 10

The Regeneron Science Talent Search is a national contest for aspiring scientists and mathematicians. Before winning one of these scholarships, which range from $2,000 to $250,000, you must participate in a long-term research project.

Projects could be in computer science, engineering or biochemistry, among other fields.

3. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship

Deadline (2021): Oct. 30

This merit-based scholarship goes to high-achieving students with financial need.

To apply, you can submit the Common Application and designate the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation as one of your “schools.” The scholarship committee will look at your grades, test scores, extracurriculars, essays and recommendation letters. Winners get up to $40,000 each year for tuition, books, room, board and other education fees.

4. Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship

Deadline (2021): March 31

Microsoft offers the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) scholarship awards to Black and African American students who plan to study technology. This scholarship is open to high school seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.3 and demonstrated financial eed.

Winners of Microsoft’s BAM scholarships can receive up to $175,000 toward their college education.

5. SMART: Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation

Deadline (2021): Dec. 1

This full-tuition scholarship goes to aspiring STEM students who are interested in a career in national defense. Winners are expected to do a summer internship and work for a period as a Department of Defense civilian.

The scholarship comes in the form of a cash stipend of $25,000 to $38,000 per year, depending on what degree you’re pursuing, and includes health insurance.

6. USDA 1890 National Scholars Program

Deadline (2021): Jan. 31

The United States Department of Scholarship offers this full-tuition scholarship to students planning to attend one of the 1890 historically black land-grant universities, like Alabama A&M University or Tennessee State University.

Winners have a record of leadership, plus they plan to study food, agriculture, natural resource science or a related discipline. USDA scholars get summer jobs and potential employment with the USDA after graduation.

Tips on how to get a full-ride scholarship

The scholarships on this list are rare finds. They come from private organizations, and you can use most of them at any university.

So, how can you get a full-tuition scholarship from one of these private organizations? Most are merit-based and require a strong academic and extracurricular background.

If you’re applying, you need to start early to put together the strongest application you can. Produce thoughtful essays, and connect with your recommenders to get outstanding references.

These national, full-tuition scholarships are extremely competitive. You can’t rely on them as your financial plan, but they’re definitely worth a shot. At the same time, you should also apply to smaller scholarships to help with tuition costs.

By planning for college costs, you can avoid taking on too much student loan debt.

Although you might hear the terms full-ride scholarship and full-tuition scholarship used interchangeably, they’re not usually the same thing.

A full-ride scholarship award is even more generous because it can cover supplemental expenses like meal plans, books and sometimes even travel or personal expenses. It will also typically span your entire college experience, rather than being limited to one year.

A full-tuition scholarship, on the other hand, may only cover the cost of tuition. While this can still go a long way toward making college more affordable, you might still have to cover other expenses associated with your cost of attendance. What’s more, a full-tuition scholarship may or may not be renewable for all four (or more) years you’re at school.

That said, these terms get mixed up sometimes, so your best bet is to read over the details of a scholarship opportunity in order to know exactly what’s included in the award and what’s not.

Full-ride scholarships are the most competitive awards out there, but they’re usually open to everyone. Students can make themselves eligible for a number of reasons, including leadership in their community, academic achievement or athletics.

Many scholarship committees will review a student’s merit based on their high school transcript, resume, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation from teachers or coaches, standardized test scores and other factors.

Some scholarship awards revolve around a competition and include several stages of evaluation. Others are earmarked for students from traditionally underrepresented groups.

Finally, some awards go to students who, along with meeting other eligibility criteria, show demonstrated financial need.

Every scholarship award sets its own criteria, so the grade point average (GPA) you need to win a full-ride scholarship will vary. Some awards may require a minimum GPA, whereas others may expect you to fall within a certain class rank (for example, the top 5% of your class).

Many scholarship programs expect you to maintain a certain GPA throughout your time in college. If your grades dip, the award could be revoked.

The availability of full-ride scholarships varies from school to school. It can also vary from department to department.

Along with looking for a full-ride award from a college, you might also be able to find one from a private organization or state agency.

Yes, transfer students are typically eligible for full-ride scholarships, though their application process might differ. Make sure to check with your financial aid office to find out about any requirements you’d need to fulfill as a transfer student to put yourself in the running.

Requirements vary for a full-ride scholarship, so make sure to read over the application process of each award differently. Like many scholarships, you’ll usually need to submit an application, along with materials including…

  • Your high school transcript
  • SAT or ACT test scores
  • A resume or record of your school and community involvement
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches or advisors
  • Answers to essay questions

Scholarship awards that take financial need into account may also request to see your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Since full-ride and full-tuition scholarships are highly competitive, you’ll want to spend time putting together the best scholarship application you can.

Recommended Reading