How to Find Full Ride Scholarships

Money in handFull ride scholarships pay the full price of attending a college.  This usually includes tuition, fees, and room and board.  Some full ride scholarships go even farther and throw in stipends for books, study abroad, yearly spending money and even a laptop computer.

Often people think of athletic full ride scholarships, but there are also many academic full ride scholarships offered.  These are the ones I am focusing on here.  These scholarships are usually based on high school GPA and SAT or ACT score.  Many also take leadership, extracurricular activities and community service into account.  There are also some academic full rides reserved for National Merit Finalists and Semi-Finalists.

The largest source of academic full rides are the colleges themselves.  Colleges around the country offer academic full rides in order to attract top students.  If you have a student who is eligible, this can take away most or all of the burden of paying for college.  However, you have to know where to look.

Ivy league and other most competitive colleges do not usually offer academic full rides because they don’t need to.  If you look at the percentage of applicants admitted at these schools each year, you will see why.  They attract so many students on reputation alone that they do not need to offer full ride scholarships to get the students they want.

Most academic full ride scholarships are offered by lesser known schools.  It is possible to find them at well known state schools like University of Kentucky, University of Alabama, UCLA, University of Connecticut, and University of Pittsburgh.  It is also possible to find a few at highly ranked private colleges like Tulane and Wake Forest, but the majority are found at lesser known private colleges and non-flagship state schools.

How Do You Find Full Ride Scholarships?

Here are the most effective ways I have found to search for these academic full rides:

  1. Individual college websites -  Anytime I go to a college’s website, I check out their scholarship offerings.  These can usually be found under Financial Aid or separately under the Admissions area of the website.  You have to look through all the scholarships offered to find any that are full rides.
  2. Meritaid.com – This site lists scholarships offered at schools around the country, but you have to search by school.  You can either enter a school name or go to a state and you will see all the schools in that state that have scholarships listed.  Again, you have to look through all the scholarships listed for a school to see if there are any full rides.
  3. Other scholarship websites – Some other scholarship websites like fastweb.com and scholarships.com list private scholarships and scholarships offered directly by the schools.  These are hard to find here also and are mixed in with smaller scholarships offered by a school.
  4. Full Scholarship List – This is a tool I have created to help families find full ride scholarships around the country.  I was frustrated because it was so hard to find these academic full rides.  It also lists academic scholarships that pay full tuition, but not room and board or other additional costs.  It is offered in a downloadable spreadsheet format.  There are currently 406 scholarships listed on the spreadsheet and you can sort and filter to find what you want.  You can read more about it here:  Full Scholarship List – Praise from a Parent.

If your high school student has good grades and good ACT/SAT scores, or has a shot at being a National Merit Finalist or Semi-Finalist, it is worth checking into academic full ride scholarships.  Imagine how much money you could save if your child was offered one.


Paying for College, Scholarships

2 comments


  1. Mr. Mitchell

    Your data has been very useful so far in our college search. Just noticed that it looks like your entry for Georgia Southern should actually be Georgia State. Will let you know if I notice any other issues. Would you please notify me if there is an update to the spreadsheet with a significant number of additions. Your work in creating all of this is very greatly appreciated.

    • Wendy Nelson

      Thank you for the comments! I will update that one on my next release. I only send out a new version of the list when I have a significant number of additions and/or updates as schools change details and/or links from year to year. All purchasers receive an email with a link to download the update for free.

      Wendy