What is a full-ride scholarship

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Understanding and utilizing scholarships can save you thousands of dollars and help you avoid student debt. The average federal student loan debt in the United States is $37,667, but many scholarships exist to combat this. A full-ride scholarship covers the total cost of a college education and can completely eliminate a student's need to rely on loans.

Full-ride scholarships are scholarships that cover full tuition, room and board, and other educational costs. Some full-ride scholarships even give recipients a monthly living expense stipend that can be used for personal expenses. Since full-ride scholarships are such a comprehensive form of financial aid, they lessen prohibitive college costs and allow greater access to higher education.

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What is a full scholarship?

Paying for college can be expensive - on top of a full tuition and mandatory fees, students also have to budget for their personal expenses. When you add costs like transportation and living expenses to already high tuition rates, finding the money to attend college can seem impossible. It doesn't help that college tuition rises an average of 8% each year, leaving many students struggling to afford college expenses.

Luckily, there are hundreds of scholarships available that offer support to college students. It's important to note that not all scholarships are equal, though all can be beneficial. Most scholarships offer students a small one-time award that only pays for a fraction of their college costs, but full-ride scholarships are different from other scholarships. A full-ride scholarship will cover all education-related expenses a student incurs throughout their degree program.

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Full-ride scholarships are often confused with full-tuition scholarships; however, the two are very different. Full tuition scholarships only cover the cost of tuition, whereas full ride scholarship are much more comprehensive. Unlike a full-tuition scholarship, a full-ride covers not only tuition but also fees, textbooks, room and board, and other living costs. Consequently, these scholarships are oftentimes even more competitive than full tuition scholarships.

Full-ride scholarships can be an extremely valuable resource for students. Full-ride scholarships can be even further broken down into different categories like full-ride athletic scholarships or full-ride academic scholarships, depending on eligibility requirements and other factors.

How to get a full-ride scholarship

What is a full ride scholarship

There is no way to ensure you’ll receive a full-ride scholarship but there are many different ways you can increase your chances of being awarded such a competitive scholarship. As there are different types of scholarships, the specific requirements will vary based on which scholarships you are applying for.

Generally, students who do better academically will have better chances of receiving a full-ride scholarship. Research shows that 66% of students who have above-average ACT scores and SAT scores receive private scholarships.

High school students should begin taking standardized tests like the ACT and SAT as early as their junior year. Testing early gives high school students the freedom to test again and improve their scores. It's recommended that students reach their intended score by the time they are high school seniors and preparing to apply for college. By taking the ACT or SAT during their junior year, students can give themselves plenty of time to study and retest if they don't initially achieve the score they want. Though, test scores aren't the only things that count on a scholarship application. Having a high cumulative GPA and impressive extracurricular experience can also be an important factor.

Students who have high GPAs are able to demonstrate that they work hard in the classroom. High school seniors and younger students must ensure that they maintain good grades throughout their academic careers. Exceptional students who have a history of academic excellence will do well when applying for scholarships based on academic merit.

Full-ride scholarships can be extremely competitive, so students must excel both inside and outside of academics. In addition to academic merit, many full-ride scholarships will also take personal characteristics, such as a student's community involvement and leadership skills, into account.

Students can achieve a more well-rounded scholarship application by committing time to their personal hobbies and interests. Students will usually demonstrate leadership and other qualities through essay submissions and interviews with scholarship committees.

Many full-ride scholarships will have certain eligibility requirements that applicants must meet in order to be considered for the scholarship award. For example, a particular full-ride scholarship might require that applicants be students with financial need from low-income households. Scholarships with stricter eligibility criteria can be less competitive, so it's beneficial to find and apply for these sorts of scholarships.

How many full-ride scholarships are available for you to apply for can depend on your intended college major and which school you end up attending. Certain college majors receive more grant funds than others. The college majors that receive the highest shares of federal grants are health, which receives 18.4% of funding, humanities at 16.3%, and business, which receives 15.9%.

Looking into university-specific full-ride scholarships is an easy way to find less competitive scholarships. By applying for full-ride scholarships that are university specific, there will be fewer applicants than with other scholarships open to a wider range of students. Specific universities will have full-ride scholarships like the Trustee Scholarship at Boston University, whereas The Gates Scholarship is open to students at any accredited college in the United States.

Some full-ride scholarships are talent based with full-ride athletic scholarships being the most common. Students will usually need to be recruited by a certain university to be eligible for a full-ride athletic scholarship. These talent-based scholarships are given to students pursuing degrees at a specific university in exchange for the student’s participation in one of the university’s athletic teams or other programs.

While most full-ride scholarships will be for specific institutions, there are many private organizations that offer full-ride scholarships as well. The Calvin Coolidge Foundation offers the Coolidge Scholarship which is a full-ride scholarship for high school juniors of any background with no limits on which path of undergraduate study they will pursue.

Receiving a full-ride scholarship can seem out of the question when you look at how many things to consider, but you should still apply for all the scholarships you are eligible for. Even if you feel that your academic history or resume experience is not outstanding, you never know exactly what a scholarship committee is looking for. As long as you apply yourself and work on improving the application materials as much as you can, you will have a chance of being awarded a full-ride scholarship.

How much is a full-ride scholarship worth?

How much a full-ride scholarship is worth will depend greatly on the particular full-ride scholarship and which university a recipient attends. Tuition at a four-year university in the United States averages out to $19,020 per year, and full-ride scholarships cover more than just tuition expenses. This means it's not uncommon for full-ride scholarships to be worth upwards of $20,000 a year.

The fact that there is no set dollar amount distinguishes a full-ride scholarship from other scholarships. Full-ride scholarships usually have no designated amount of award money and instead are intended to pay the full cost of a student's college education based on the student's specific needs and costs.

What is a full ride scholarship

The amount of tuition and other fees vary from college to college so the value of a full-ride scholarship will also vary depending on what expenses it covers and where you attend school. How much full-ride scholarships are worth depends on a multitude of factors like whether the recipient receives other forms of financial aid and if they attend a public or private institution. In any case, with the average yearly cost of college in the United States equaling $35,551, students can expect to save a lot of money by securing a full-ride scholarship.

With 38% of college students worrying that they will be unable to pay for their current semester of schooling, full-ride scholarships are a source of financial freedom for many students.

Are full-ride scholarships rare?

Since full-ride scholarships cover the entire cost of a college education, they can be extremely hard to come by. The majority of scholarships are not as inclusive as full-ride scholarships. One study found that only 1.5% of bachelor's degree students were awarded enough scholarships and grants to fully cover the cost of their undergraduate study.

Student-athletes looking for full-ride scholarships can have an even tougher time. The NCAA predicts that only 1.3% of high school athletes will receive any scholarships at all.

The chances of being awarded a full-ride scholarship look even bleaker when you compare college costs to the dollar amount of scholarships awarded. Only 0.2% of students receive more than $25,000 in scholarships, and the average annual cost of attendance at four-year colleges for in-state students is $25,707. When looking at statistics like these, finding funding for your college education can seem hopeless, but it doesn't have to be.

Full-ride scholarships might be rare, but thousands of students still benefit from these scholarships every year. By putting enough research and work into your application, you can still successfully win a full-ride scholarship.

What is a full ride scholarship

However, students should remember that full-ride scholarships aren't the only source of college funding. With proper planning, students can find enough scholarships to meet their financial need. College students can increase their chances of being awarded scholarship funds by applying for a broad range of scholarships. Applying to a variety of smaller scholarships instead of focusing on full-ride scholarships or full-tuition scholarships can improve a student's likelihood of securing college funding.

Students can find hundreds of scholarships to apply for right here on Bold.org. Financial need does not have to get in the way of higher education. Bold.org shows students hundreds of available scholarships, from simple no-essay scholarships to local scholarships for specific states.

Frequently asked questions about full-ride scholarships

How to apply for full-ride scholarships

The application process for any scholarship will depend on that specific scholarship's requirements and methods. To apply for full-ride scholarships, students will normally have to submit their high school transcripts in addition to essays that answer specific prompts found under the scholarship's details. In addition, many full-ride scholarships will ask students to interview with the scholarship committee and submit a student resume.

Do full-ride scholarships cover housing?

Housing expenses are usually included, though it's important to check the terms of your specific scholarship to determine eligible uses. Full-ride scholarships cover all tuition and fees associated with attending college, so they generally cover room and board as well. Students who are awarded these scholarships are considered lucky as they get one scholarship that covers all college costs.

However, it's important to note that some scholarships will have stipulations on what housing arrangements they cover. One full-ride scholarship might only cover on-campus housing for students, whereas another will give award recipients a housing stipend that they are free to use off campus.

How many scholarships can a student get?

Given their competitive nature, full-ride scholarships can be rare for students to receive. Thankfully, there is no limit to how many scholarships a student can receive. Many students might have better luck applying for a broad range of small scholarships rather than applying for a select few full-ride scholarships.

By applying for as many scholarships as possible, students can greatly increase their chances of being awarded scholarship funds. While a full-ride scholarship can be a great resource for students, pairing multiple scholarships together is also an option.

Students can apply for multiple scholarships on Bold.org. There are even many easy scholarships open that don't require students to write and submit long scholarship essays.

What is a good GPA for a full-ride scholarship?

Securing a full-ride scholarship begins as early as high school. Full-ride scholarships often look for students that have exceptional academic credentials, which means having high test scores and a high cumulative GPA. Many scholarships based on academic merit will look for students with a cumulative unweighted GPA of above 3.0.

Having higher than a 3.0 GPA shows that you have a history of scoring A's and B's in your classes. Such a high GPA sets you apart from other scholarship candidates. However, class grades are not everything and students with lower GPAs can still find full-ride scholarships available to them.

Many scholarships do not even have GPA requirements, so it's possible to win even with an average or low GPA. For students who do excel academically, a high GPA can unlock additional scholarship opportunities. Students can find scholarships with GPA requirements here to find scholarships available to them even if they have a lower GPA.

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