College is a dream for many high school students, but there’s no denying that expenses can get in the way. College costs can be a major deterrent, especially when you have financial need.
Yet, many institutions recognize the promise of high-achieving students and offer full ride scholarships to select incoming freshmen. If you need help financing college, here’s a look at the top scholarship programs that could fully fund your education.
What Colleges Give Full Ride Scholarships?
Higher education is expensive, but college scholarship programs can help you get the education you deserve without the monetary burden. In addition to financing your entire college tuition, many scholarships also offer stipends for personal finances as well, ensuring you can meet your basic needs while studying.
Who Qualifies for Full Tuition Scholarships?
High school seniors with high SAT test scores and ACT scores can apply for merit scholarships. Other criteria that earn students scholarship opportunities include academics, SAT scores, areas of interest, extracurricular activities, demographics, and more.
Financial need is a major criteria that can qualify you for scholarship money that covers the entirety of your tuition costs. To qualify for such a scholarship offer, you’ll at the very least need to submit a FAFSA form, along with any additional essays or application materials.
If you’re looking for a full college scholarship, keep in mind that it is competitive. Both private colleges and state universities have their own trusts and funding sources that enable them to offer full scholarship awards to a select number of college Freshman entering in the fall.
The Boston University Trustee Scholarship awards full tuition scholarships to 20 outstanding individuals in its incoming freshman class. The Boston University Trustee scholarship committee doesn’t just look at grades, though most honorees maintain a 4.0 throughout high school.
In addition to academics, Boston University is looking for well-rounded students that are intellectual and creative. They want to see students who have potential to contribute to the campus community both culturally and socially. Applicants must complete an essay in order to be considered.
As part of its commitment to ensuring financial aid for every student in need, Duke University offers 10 merit scholarships to incoming Freshman. No separate application is required for nine out of 10 of these scholarships. Simply apply through Duke’s regular admissions application to be considered for these nine scholarships. For the tenth scholarship, the Robertson Scholars Program, a separate application is necessary.
The Durham, North Carolina-based university has a need-blind admission policy, meaning that it admits students based on promise and potential, regardless of financial status. They encourage students to apply to their school regardless of cost.
University of Chicago
Students admitted to the University of Chicago have a myriad of scholarship options for funding their college experience. In-state students in Illinois, and specifically in Chicago, have a number of opportunities to choose from, including the Chicago Police and Fire Scholarship, offered to students of active firefighters and officers. This scholarship covers full tuition costs during your bachelor’s degree and doesn’t have a separate application.
Children of Chicago Public Schools teachers are eligible for a full scholarship, and students who attend University of Chicago’s select partner high schools are also eligible. The Children of Chicago Public Schools education scholarships require a separate application.
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan, located in Ann Arbor, offers numerous merit-based scholarships. Students who demonstrate academic achievement, leadership skills, and talent in the arts and sciences are eligible for The Shipman Scholarship. Only 32 incoming students receive this renewable award, which can be enjoyed every year as long as the student continues to meet the academic requirements.
Students who demonstrate exceptional talent, leadership qualities, academic achievement, and community commitment can be awarded the Stamps Scholarship, which can be put toward the full cost of tuition. Stamp scholars can also receive $5,000 in additional financial support to cover study abroad, extracurricular activities, research, internships, and more.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Merit-based scholarships at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill range from $10,000 to the full cost of attendance. Potential students are judged on academic achievement, leadership qualities, commitment to service, and potential for success at the University.
Students don’t have to apply separately for this scholarship — they are considered based on their admissions application and will be notified after admittance. Unlike many other full-ride scholarships, UNC Chapel Hill doesn’t consider financial need as a factor when deciding who gets funding.
University of Southern California
Students applying to the University of Southern California are considered for merit scholarships based on academic promise, artistic talent, or athletic achievement. Students from different cultures and underprivileged backgrounds are considered, too.
These awards range in size and can potentially cover the full cost of tuition. All students who apply to the University of Southern California by the deadline will be considered. No separate application is necessary.
The main full ride scholarship at Boston College is the Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program (GPSP). 15 students admitted to Boston College will be awarded this president’s scholarship. The program gives full tuition, room, and board for all four years.
Yet the presidential scholarship differs from other scholarships because it also provides funding to attend GPSP-sponsored summer programs. Students are automatically entered to win this award upon applying to Boston College, as long as they submit by the priority scholarship deadline.
University of Virginia
The University of Virginia offers a range of scholarship opportunities. For example, their need-based scholarships, awarded through the Access UVA department, are privately-endowed. Students who demonstrate passion and expertise in a certain subject, or who have artistic talents or exceptional grades, are also eligible for awards from the University itself or from specific academic departments.
The UVA alumni association also awards over 250 scholarships, some of which cover the full cost of tuition, room, and board, but students need to apply separately for alumni funds.
There are three merit-based scholarships at Vanderbilt University that offer a full ride scholarship: the Ingram Scholars Program, The Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship, and the Chancellor’s Award. While there isn’t a specific limit to how many students can achieve scholarships, the finalists must officially declare Vanderbilt as their first choice school with the National Merit Corporation.
These awards for this Nashville institution also include a stipend that covers additional academic activities, from study abroad to summer research. Students must complete a scholarship application for all merit-based scholarships.
Located in Atlanta, Emory University provides three main scholarships for incoming freshmen. While not all of these scholarships cover the full cost of tuition, many of them do. These include the Emory College Woodruff Scholars, The Oxford College Woodruff Scholars, and the Goizueta Scholars.
All of these programs emphasize community and encourage a commitment to campus life. Students simply have to check that they would like to be considered for a scholarship on their application in order to be eligible.
Students who apply to Tulane University can complete separate applications to be eligible for four full-tuition scholarships. These scholarships are competitive and prioritize students with superior school and community involvement, high test scores, and extraordinary promise in all areas of life.
These full tuition awards include the Dean’s Honor Scholarship and the Paul Tulane Award, both of which require high standardized test scores. The Stamps scholarship is awarded to five students based on leadership, scholarship, and innovation. Lastly, the Sotomayor Full Tuition Public Service Scholarship is given to only one student who shows a commitment to their community.
University of Rochester
Both first-year and transfer students are eligible for full-tuition, merit-based scholarships. All students who apply to the undergraduate school are considered for these awards, which are awarded based solely on academic excellence, rather than financial need.
Additionally, students who receive this scholarship will need to maintain full-time status in school and will need to meet high academic standards throughout their studies. A yearly review will ensure that students meet these criteria and qualify to continue collecting funds for their education.
Yale University offers a number of merit-based scholarships that can cover the full cost of tuition. The Yale Scholarship is a need-based grant averaging $50,000 per year, but up to $70,000 per year, which is 97% of the cost of attendance. Additional funds come from area organizations and clubs.
These scholarships aren’t awarded based on academics. Rather, Yale is committed to funding 100% of all students who are accepted, according to their financial need. On average, college students with parents who make $65,000 a year or less pay $0 for tuition.
Financing College With Full-Tuition Scholarships
College is a big decision that can greatly improve your career options after graduation. As you take this important step, your financial status shouldn’t be a stumbling block.
That’s why some of the top colleges and universities in America offer free tuition based on financial need, academic achievement, community involvement, creative promise, and a number of other factors. For more tips on the top colleges and universities, and to learn more about majors, programs, and funding, visit College Rank.