What ACT or SAT Score Can Get You a Full-Ride Scholarship?

Published by Wendy Nelson on

Money in handThere are still colleges in the United States that offer full-ride scholarships to attract students with high ACT or SAT scores.  The number of schools offering these scholarships seems to be shrinking over the past several years so it takes some work to find the ones that still do.

For the past several months, I have been working on compiling a list of all full-ride scholarships offered to students based on GPA, test scores and other qualifications.  I am finding it to be a much more challenging effort than I originally thought!  Update – The Full Scholarship List is now available!

Today, I’d like to provide some information on my findings around ACT and SAT scores that can automatically win your student a full-ride.  By automatically, I mean there is no separate application to complete or competition to get these funds.  All students with a particular ACT/SAT score will receive the scholarship.  Usually, there is a GPA component as well, so a student must have the ACT/SAT score and a high GPA.

One of the more interesting things I have found is that public universities often have different criteria for in-state students than for out-of-state students.  Sometimes a school will offer students from out of state a scholarship for a lower ACT/SAT score than what an in-state student needs.  This is done to attract more out-of-state students to make the school’s student body more diverse.  For example, the University of Alabama – Birmingham offers full out-of-state tuition for students with a 3.0 GPA and a 28 ACT, but students from Alabama need a 33 ACT to score the same award.

Other times, the school will reward students from their home state more than students from other states either by changing the criteria or changing the reward.  Examples:

  • University of Alabama flagship campus offers a full tuition scholarship (room and board not included) to in-state students with a 3.5 GPA and 30 ACT/1330 SAT, but an out-of-state student must have a 32 ACT/1400 SAT.
  • University of Kentucky flagship campus offers a full tuition scholarship to in-state students with a 3.3 GPA and a 28 ACT/1250 SAT, but does not offer a full tuition scholarship to out-of-state students.
  • Florida A&M offers a full-ride (including room & board) to in-state students with a 3.5 GPA and a 27 ACT.  Out-of-state students with the same statistics receive full tuition, but not room and board.

Overall, my research so far has been surprising in that there are schools that will offer full tuition starting at a 22 ACT and a full ride starting at a 25 ACT.  These are typically the lesser known public campus in a state, but can offer a great opportunity for students to have a fully funded education.

I plan to make my spreadsheet of all full-tuition/full-ride opportunities available by the end of 2013.  In the meantime, if you are looking for these deals, check out the resources listed in the comments section of my prior post, Can My Kid Get a Full-Ride Scholarship? Some of the states that offer the best merit-based full rides are  Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana.