Full Tuition (or better) Academic Scholarships

Published by Wendy Nelson on

This post was first published in November 2015. As of version 7.1 of the Full Scholarship List (published 3-13-2019), there are over 1,180 full tuition and full ride academic scholarships listed.

Parents of college-bound kids dream of full tuition scholarship and full ride scholarships.  For the majority of students, this is not going to become a reality.  Most families are going to need to contribute to the cost of college.  However, there are opportunities for full tuition and full ride academic scholarships out there.  You just need to know how to find them.  I am going to explain more about these scholarships and the different types offered and then tell you where you can find 448 full tuition (or better) full ride and full tuition academic scholarships that your student could be eligible for.

First, let me define the difference:

A Full Ride Scholarship will pay for tuition, fees, room and board, and possibly throw in some money for other things like books, research, a laptop or study abroad.

A Full Tuition Scholarship will cover the cost of yearly tuition.  Some also pay fees, others do not.

Both of these types of scholarships will save a family from tens of thousands of dollars to well over $100,000 and even over $200,000 at the most expensive colleges.

There are generally three types of full tuition scholarships and full ride scholarships offered directly by colleges:

  1. Need Based – These are based on the family’s ability to pay for college, usually assessed through the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile.  Only the neediest students will qualify for full tuition or full ride need-based scholarships.
  2. Talent Based – These could be athletic scholarships or scholarships for things like dance, theater, art or music.  Full tuition and full ride athletic scholarships may be offered by Division 1, Division 2 and NAIA colleges.  As for other talents, it is very rare to find scholarships offering full tuition or better.  Most “artistic” talent scholarships are limited to a few thousand dollars.
  3. Merit Based or Academic – Academic scholarships are based on the student’s performance in high school.  The evaluation is usually based on National Merit Scholarship finalist/semi-finalist status or  a combination of grade point average (GPA), ACT or SAT score, class rank, and possibly other things such as leadership experience, community service, and the difficulty of the student’s classes.

I’m going to focus primarily on finding full tuition (or better) academic scholarships because these are the ones that are hardest to find.  A few years ago, I created the Full Scholarship List out of frustration that there wasn’t a complete resource available to find full tuition scholarships and full ride scholarships based on merit.  There are a few websites with limited and often out of date lists.  Also, I wanted to see scholarships offered directly by colleges, not those 1 in a million scholarships offered by corporations and private foundations.

I envisioned a spreadsheet, where I could search by different characteristics like required ACT or SAT score, required GPA, school location, and scholarship amount.  That is what I created.  It was a various tedious process, but I felt it was important for other parents to have this resource.

There are 448 full tuition (or better) academic scholarships listed on the Full Scholarship List (As of 2019, there are over 1,180 full tuition or better academic scholarships listed).  These are offered to top students who apply.  Are we talking Ivy League colleges?  No, most top colleges don’t need to offer academic scholarships to attract great students.  But that doesn’t mean these are all non-competitive colleges either.  Just a few of the schools on the list include Duke, Claremont McKenna, UCLA, USC, Colorado College and Wake Forest.

If you have a top student and you are looking for a great deal on college, check out the academic scholarships on the Full Scholarship List.  You may end up saving $100,000 or more on your kid’s college education.