Full-ride scholarships are, without a doubt, every college student’s dream to receive. What is a full-ride scholarship? It’s a scholarship that generally covers most of, if not all, of your college expenses. Full-ride scholarships fall into a few different categories: ones that are merit-based, ones that are need-based (these two are both generally offered by the colleges/universities themselves), and ones from private organizations.
The fact that full-ride scholarships often cover not only tuition but also textbooks, room and board, and other expenses, is amazing. However, since these scholarships are so significant (and honestly life-changing), it also means that they are extremely difficult to win. They may be difficult, but it’s important to remember that they’re by no means impossible!
In this article, I will highlight some of the best full-ride scholarships (along with some that are hopefully less known - less well-known = higher chance of winning, right?) and even leave you with some tips on how you can put your best foot forward when applying for these types of scholarships.
Application deadline: January 20
Details: The Coolidge Scholarship is a full-ride scholarship that covers a student’s tuition, room, board, and expenses for four years of undergraduate study. The Coolidge may be used by recipients at any American university. Anyone of any background, pursuing any academic discipline of study, may apply to this non-partisan, need-blind, program.
Coolidge scholars must possess a distinguished academic record. Competitive candidates will have pursued and succeeded in the most rigorous course of study available to them. Like the president, Coolidge Scholars will engage in the pressing issues of their time. The Coolidge Scholarship seeks young people who display a sense of service and care for the well-being of others, as Coolidge himself placed a high value on Americans helping their own communities and fellow citizens.
Eligibility: Must be a current high school junior
Application Deadline: December 14
Details: The Science Ambassador Scholarship is a full-ride scholarship for undergraduate women studying science, technology, engineering, or math, funded by Cards Against Humanity. To apply, applicants must submit a three-minute video explaining a scientific topic they’re passionate about.
Eligibility: The Science Ambassador Scholarship is open to female undergraduate students and high school seniors. All fields within science, technology, engineering, and math are eligible. You do not need to be a U.S. citizen to apply. You do need to attend college (or plan to attend college) in the United States or a United States Territory.
Details: Flinn Scholars are articulate, fun-loving, and hard-working. They are generous, creative, curious—and imperfect. They have excelled in their high-school classrooms while maintaining purposeful involvement in extracurricular activities, whether in the arts or athletics, in laboratory research or community service. They have assumed leadership roles at school and beyond.
Eligibility: To be awarded the Flinn Scholarship, an applicant must:
Details: The special application requirement is a VIDEO. What should go into your video? Anything that helps explain your goal, why it’s important to you, and how you plan to achieve it. Get creative, show us what you’ve got, and have fun. Be you.
Videos will be judged on…
Eligibility: Must be between 18 and 24 years old.
Details: Pays full (100 percent) college tuition and authorized fees at any public or private institution with an Air Force ROTC detachment. Type 1 selectees will also receive a monthly living expense stipend and an annual book stipend. Applicants must pass a Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board (DODMERB) medical exam and complete a Physical Fitness Assessment.
Eligibility: SAT composite of 1240 or ACT composite of 26 and GPA of 3.0 or higher are also required for high school student applicants. Must be a current high school student. For college applicants, the Air Force ROTC Commander will determine the minimum GPA and test scores, if applicable, for scholarship eligibility.
Deadline: December 1
Details: SMART is a scholarship-for-service program that provides full tuition and other financial benefits to individuals in exchange for a period of post-graduation civilian service in a DoD facility. Another benefit of the program comes in the form of internships that allow for broadly relevant hands-on research and work experiences in DoD facilities, thereby enhancing their educational experience. The SMART Scholarship Program represents a critical DoD investment in attracting the best and brightest of minds whose technical expertise will help execute the Department’s mission.
Eligibility: Individuals applying for this scholarship must be:
Deadline: October 30
Details: The Cooke College Scholarship Program is an undergraduate scholarship program available to high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend and graduate from the nation’s best four-year colleges and universities.
Each award is intended to cover a significant share of the student’s educational experience – including tuition, living expenses, books, and required fees. Awards vary by individual, based on the cost of tuition as well as other grants or scholarships they may receive. This highly competitive scholarship includes:
Eligibility: To be eligible to apply to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program you must:
Details: If you’re an ambitious, analytical New York City high school student who is ready to get a head start on a career in financial services, then Smart Start is the program for you. You’ll gain real-world experience working in our industry-leading businesses, while attending university on a full four-year scholarship.
Eligibility: New York City high school student interested in business / financial services
Deadline: December 31
Details: The 5 Strong Scholarship Foundation, Inc. Partners with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to provide full-tuition scholarships and ongoing support to promising student leaders from “Matriculation to Graduation.”
Eligibility: To be considered, you must reside in the METROPOLITAN ATLANTA, Georgia AREA (surrounding Fulton County areas), have a minimum GPA of 2.8 and minimum ACT: 19 / SAT: 990 (Verbal & Math only), have the potential to be a leader in the classroom and on campus, and be available to attend all College Ready Prep Sessions in Atlanta (twice a month) if accepted.
Details: Microsoft awards tuition and conference scholarships each year to encourage students to further their learnings in Computer Science and related STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines. Recipients for the scholarship will be awarded in recognition of their demonstrated passion for technology, academic excellence, and leadership while working to push the software industry forward.
Eligibility: Must be enrolled full-time in a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university in the United States, Canada, or Mexico at the time you submit the application.
Details: The Gates Scholarship (TGS) is a highly selective, last-dollar scholarship for outstanding, minority, high school seniors from low-income households. Each year, the scholarship is awarded to 300 of these student leaders, with the intent of helping them realize their maximum potential.
An ideal candidate will have:
Eligibility: To apply, students must be:
Additionally, a student must plan to enroll full-time, in a four-year degree program, at a US-accredited, not-for-profit, private, or public college or university.
Details: The Cameron Impact Scholarship is a four-year, full-tuition, merit-based undergraduate scholarship awarded annually to 10-15 exceptional high school students who have demonstrated excellence in academics, extracurricular activities, leadership, and community service. The Cameron Impact Scholar is unique among their high-achieving peers in their desire to make an impact on their communities and in the world at large. Our Scholar aspires to contribute to positive forces for change and plans to tailor their education to that end. The Cameron Impact Scholarship covers the full tuition, fees, and books at any accredited U.S. based college or university that the recipient chooses to attend.
The applicant must:
Colleges with Full-Ride Scholarships
While most top-ranked universities do not offer merit-based full-ride scholarships, luckily, some of them do! Be sure to look on each college or university's website for additional details on the full-ride scholarships that they offer and if you are eligible to apply.
Tips for Applying for (and Winning!) Full-Ride Scholarships