How To Get A Full-Ride Scholarship To Any College

How To Get A Full-Ride Scholarship To Any College

Full scholarships (also known as full-ride scholarships) are the holy grail of university funding, covering almost everything for the entire three or four years. The provider will cover your tuition and living expenses, allowing you to focus on your studies and social life without worrying about money. Isn’t that fantastic?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many of these dream scholarships available. Full scholarships are uncommon, and those that do exist are highly competitive. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply for them; read on to learn how to improve your chances of receiving one of these prestigious scholarships.

How To Get A Full-Ride Scholarship To Any College

Securing a full-ride scholarship to any college is a highly competitive endeavour, but with strategic planning and focused effort, it is possible. Here are some steps to increase your chances:

1. Start preparing early

All of the suggestions below can help you get a scholarship that pays for most or all of your college expenses, but they aren’t things you can do at the last minute.

Working to obtain a full-tuition or full-ride scholarship can take years of dedication, so it’s important to start early in high school rather than waiting until the last year or two. If you’re a parent, work with your child to help them understand the steps they’ll need to take to succeed in college.

Consider taking test prep courses throughout high school as well as practice exams over the years to hone your test-taking skills to achieve the best possible scores on college entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT.

Participating in internships in your chosen field of study throughout high school is another step that can help set you apart from other scholarship applicants. This can assist you in demonstrating your ability to succeed in real-world situations.

Participating in community service throughout your four years of high school can also help your scholarship application stand out. Pick a cause or issue that you’re truly passionate about or that supports your career goals to make this effort meaningful and to help set you apart from other applicants. Scholarship committees like to see applicants who are good citizens and individuals who give back to their communities.

2. Perform well academically

Getting good grades and test scores in high school is essential for qualifying for the best scholarships available at colleges and universities.

Unfortunately, schools rarely set minimum GPAs and test scores to earn a full-ride or full-tuition scholarship, so it’s in your best interest to do your best to compete with other incoming students.

If you’re struggling academically, seek additional assistance from teachers, hire a tutor, or enrol in extracurricular classes and programmes focused on the subject matter you’re struggling with.

3. Take challenging classes

While grades and test scores are important, colleges typically look at the types of classes you took in addition to those indicators. If your senior year was filled with easy classes, you may be passed over for a full-tuition or full-ride scholarship in favour of a student who took AP, honours, college prep, and international baccalaureate (IB) courses.

These courses can help prepare you for the rigours of college and may even give you college credit, in addition to increasing your chances of receiving a scholarship.

4. Excel in extracurricular activities

If you want to attend a prestigious university, chances are that good grades and test scores will not be enough to distinguish you from the crowd of applicants. Participating in leadership positions, such as student class officer or leader of a student club, is one way to distinguish yourself. If you want to get a full-ride scholarship, one of the most important qualities to have is leadership.

Furthermore, many colleges provide full-ride and full-tuition scholarships to students who excel in specific sports and activities. While this may be difficult to pursue unless you are already on that path, it may help you decide whether to stay on the team or continue mastering a skill.

5. Apply for admission at multiple schools

The more colleges you apply to, the more likely you are to be admitted, and the same is true for scholarship opportunities. While you may have your heart set on a particular school, broaden your options by applying to several.

Even if a school is second or third on your list, if it is willing to give you a full-tuition or full-ride scholarship and your top choice isn’t, it may tip the scales in favour of the school that won’t put you in debt.

6. Develop relationships with teachers and counsellors

Some scholarship applications require recommendation letters from one or more of your teachers, mentors, or guidance counsellors. While most teachers are willing to write letters of recommendation for students who have done well academically, the quality of the recommendation can improve significantly if you have a good rapport with the writer.

You can cultivate these relationships by regularly participating in class discussions, demonstrating respect, volunteering to be a teaching assistant, and seeking advice from your counsellor.

7. Submit a stellar application

Your credentials may appear to speak for themselves, but this is not always the case. Take your time with the application, particularly the essays and personal statements. Consider asking a teacher, guidance counsellor, or parent to proofread your essay and offer suggestions for improvement.

Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Some high school students may find it difficult to talk about themselves, but it is critical to emphasise why you should receive the full scholarship over someone else; withholding information about your accomplishments or qualifications may result in you losing your opportunity.

What types of full-ride scholarships are available?

These scholarships are usually given out by a school or a private organisation. When universities are trying to attract a specific type of student, they will award these scholarships to sweeten the deal. Organizations or businesses may provide them for a specific field of study, such as STEM, or even for a specific affiliation.

Colleges with free-ride scholarships

Several colleges have these programs—The Jefferson Scholarship covers students who go to the University of Virginia; the Torch Scholars Program helps first-generation students at Northeastern University. Some schools, like Alabama State University and the University of Notre Dame, also offer scholarships based on SAT/ACT scores.


The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program has awards for students pursuing degrees in agriculture and related disciplines at historically black land-grant colleges and universities. Plus, some states offer scholarships to residents.

Foundations and companies

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has scholarships for students with financial needs in any field. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers The Gates Scholarship for use at any U.S.-accredited college. The Strive Foundation awards Stamps Scholarships that are good at 36 colleges around the country. And Coca-Cola has a Scholars Program.

To find other scholarships, check out Scholly by Sallie.* The top college scholarship app has helped students find millions of dollars in scholarships. Best part? It’s free and super easy to use. Tell Scholly Search® about your interests, background, and accomplishments, and you can get matched with scholarships in just minutes. Then start applying.



A full-tuition or full-ride college scholarship can save you thousands of dollars in student loans that you will have to repay for years. However, because the application process for these types of scholarships is extremely competitive, you’ll need to start planning as early as your freshman year of high school if you want to have enough time to create a truly compelling applicant profile. Your efforts should include academic excellence, leadership, and community service.

Even if you don’t get a full-ride or full-tuition scholarship, there are other ways to pay for college, such as grants, private scholarships, and working part-time or during the summer.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What are the key requirements for obtaining a full-ride scholarship?

  • To be a competitive candidate for a full-ride scholarship, you typically need to demonstrate exceptional academic achievement, strong extracurricular involvement, and outstanding leadership qualities. Maintaining a high GPA, excelling in challenging courses, and actively participating in extracurricular activities that align with your passions and interests are crucial aspects of building a strong application.

Where can I find information about full-ride scholarships?

  • Numerous resources are available to assist you in your search for full-ride scholarships. Explore the websites of your preferred colleges and universities, as they often offer their scholarship opportunities. Utilize online scholarship search engines like Fastweb and CollegeBoard to discover a vast array of scholarships based on your criteria. Additionally, consult with your high school guidance counsellor or financial aid advisor for personalized guidance and recommendations.

How can I make my application stand out from the competition?

  • Craft a compelling personal statement that showcases your unique experiences, motivations, and aspirations. Highlight your accomplishments in a meaningful way, emphasizing the impact you have made on your community or school. Seek feedback from experienced individuals to refine your application materials and ensure they effectively convey your strengths and potential.
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