6 Full-Ride Scholarships That Cover Tuition and More

 July 20, 2021
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full-tuition scholarships

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Full-ride scholarships are awards that cover your full cost of attendance at college. This cost includes tuition, room and board, meals, books, fees and more. Some full-ride scholarships even include stipends for personal expenses or enrichment experiences.

Full-tuition scholarships are also generous, though they typically only cover tuition costs. These scholarships usually don’t pay for things like room and board or personal expenses.

As you can imagine, full-ride and full-tuition scholarships are the unicorns of the scholarship world. But while rare, it is possible to snag a full-ride award that reduces your bills to zero.

We’ve collected six full-tuition/full-ride scholarships to help you learn more, plus some tips on how to win one.

6 full-tuition and full-ride scholarships that could save you thousands

While this list isn’t exhaustive, it’s a helpful launching off point for your scholarship search. Note that the deadlines are often subject to change, so be sure to check out your scholarship website(s) of choice before you start your application.

1. Gates Millennium Scholars program
2. Regeneron Science Talent Search
3. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship
4. Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship
5. SMART: Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation
6. USDA 1890 National Scholars Program
● Plus: Tips on how to get a full-ride scholarship
● Plus: Some full-ride scholarship FAQs

1. Gates Millennium Scholars program

Deadline (2021): Sept. 15

The Gates Millennium Scholars program covers unmet financial need for “African-American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American and/or Hispanic American students”. You need to have a GPA of at least 3.3, along with a commitment to service and leadership.

To win the Gates Millennium Scholarship, your school needs to nominate you. You also need to answer several essay questions. If you think you could qualify, speak to a teacher, counselor or your principal about next steps.

2. Regeneron Science Talent Search

Deadline (2021): Nov. 10

The Regeneron Science Talent Search is a national contest for aspiring scientists and mathematicians. Before winning one of these scholarships, which range from $2,000 to $250,000, you must participate in a long-term research project.

Projects could be in computer science, engineering or biochemistry, among other fields.

3. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship

Deadline (2021): Oct. 30

This merit-based scholarship goes to high-achieving students with financial need.

To apply, you can submit the Common Application and designate the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation as one of your “schools.” The scholarship committee will look at your grades, test scores, extracurriculars, essays and recommendation letters. Winners get up to $40,000 each year for tuition, books, room, board and other education fees.

4. Blacks at Microsoft Scholarship

Deadline (2021): March 31

Microsoft offers the Blacks at Microsoft (BAM) scholarship awards to Black and African American students who plan to study technology. This scholarship is open to high school seniors with a minimum GPA of 3.3 and demonstrated financial need.

Winners of Microsoft’s BAM scholarships can receive up to $175,000 toward their college education.

5. SMART: Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation

Deadline (2021): Dec. 1

This full-tuition scholarship goes to aspiring STEM students who are interested in a career in national defense. Winners are expected to do a summer internship and work for a period as a Department of Defense civilian.

The scholarship comes in the form of a cash stipend of $25,000 to $38,000 per year, depending on what degree you’re pursuing, and includes health insurance.

6. USDA 1890 National Scholars Program

Deadline (2021): Jan. 31

The United States Department of Scholarship offers this full-tuition scholarship to students planning to attend one of the 1890 historically black land-grant universities, like Alabama A&M University or Tennessee State University.

Winners have a record of leadership, plus they plan to study food, agriculture, natural resource science or a related discipline. USDA scholars get summer jobs and potential employment with the USDA after graduation.

Tips on how to get a full-ride scholarship

The scholarships on this list are rare finds. They come from private organizations, and you can use most of them at any university.

So, how can you get a full-tuition scholarship from one of these private organizations? Most are merit-based and require a strong academic and extracurricular background.

If you’re applying, you need to start early to put together the strongest application you can. Produce thoughtful essays, and connect with your recommenders to get outstanding references.

These national, full-tuition scholarships are extremely competitive. You can’t rely on them as your financial plan, but they’re definitely worth a shot. At the same time, you should also apply to smaller scholarships to help with tuition costs.

By planning for college costs, you can avoid taking on too much student loan debt. For more on scholarships, learn about popular scholarship myths that could be holding you back.

Some full-ride scholarship FAQs

What’s the difference between full-ride and full-tuition scholarships?
What are the different types of full-ride scholarships?
What GPA do you need to get a full-ride scholarship?
Do all schools offer full-ride scholarships?
Can transfer students earn full-ride scholarships?
What is required to get a full-ride scholarship?

What’s the difference between full-ride and full-tuition scholarships?

Although you might hear the terms full-ride scholarship and full-tuition scholarship used interchangeably, they’re not usually the same thing.

A full-ride scholarship award is even more generous because it can cover supplemental expenses like meal plans, books and sometimes even travel or personal expenses. It will also typically span your entire college experience, rather than being limited to one year.

A full-tuition scholarship, on the other hand, may only cover the cost of tuition. While this can still go a long way toward making college more affordable, you might still have to cover other expenses associated with your cost of attendance. What’s more, a full-tuition scholarship may or may not be renewable for all four (or more) years you’re at school.

That said, these terms get mixed up sometimes, so your best bet is to read over the details of a scholarship opportunity in order to know exactly what’s included in the award and what’s not.

What are the different types of full-ride scholarships?

Full-ride scholarships are the most competitive awards out there, but they’re usually open to everyone. Students can make themselves eligible for a number of reasons, including leadership in their community, academic achievement or athletics.

Many scholarship committees will review a student’s merit based on their high school transcript, resume, extracurriculars, letters of recommendation from teachers or coaches, standardized test scores and other factors.

Some scholarship awards revolve around a competition and include several stages of evaluation. Others are earmarked for students from traditionally underrepresented groups.

Finally, some awards go to students who, along with meeting other eligibility criteria, show demonstrated financial need.

What GPA do you need to get a full-ride scholarship?

Every scholarship award sets its own criteria, so the grade point average (GPA) you need to win a full-ride scholarship will vary. Some awards may require a minimum GPA, whereas others may expect you to fall within a certain class rank (for example, the top 5% of your class).

Many scholarship programs expect you to maintain a certain GPA throughout your time in college. If your grades dip, the award could be revoked.

Do all schools offer full-ride scholarships?

The availability of full-ride scholarships varies from school to school. It can also vary from department to department.

Along with looking for a full-ride award from a college, you might also be able to find one from a private organization or state agency.

Can transfer students earn full-ride scholarships?

Yes, transfer students are typically eligible for full-ride scholarships, though their application process might differ. Make sure to check with your financial aid office to find out about any requirements you’d need to fulfill as a transfer student to put yourself in the running.

What is required to get a full-ride scholarship?

Requirements vary for a full-ride scholarship, so make sure to read over the application process of each award differently. Like many scholarships, you’ll usually need to submit an application, along with materials including…

  • Your high school transcript
  • SAT or ACT test scores
  • A resume or record of your school and community involvement
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers, coaches or advisors
  • Answers to essay questions

Scholarship awards that take financial need into account may also request to see your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Since full-ride and full-tuition scholarships are highly competitive, you’ll want to spend time putting together the best scholarship application you can.

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Here are our top student loan lenders of 2022!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
2.49% – 13.85%1Undergraduate

Visit College Ave

2.55% – 11.44%2Undergraduate

Visit Earnest

3.25% – 13.59%3Undergraduate

Visit SallieMae

0.00% – 23.00%4Undergraduate

Visit Edly

3.25% – 9.69%6Undergraduate



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1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

  1. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.
  2. Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
  3. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 9/15/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.47% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 2.80% APR to 11.69% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

3 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

4 Important Disclosures for Edly.

Edly Disclosures

1. Loan Example:

  • Loans from $5,000 – $20,000
  • Example: $10,000 IBR Loan with a 7% gross income payment percentage for a Senior student making $65,000 annually throughout the life of the loan.
    • Payments deferred for the first 12 months during final year of education.
    • After which, $270 Monthly payment for 12 months.
    • Then $379 Monthly payment for 44 months.
    • Followed by one final payment of $137 for a total of $20,610 paid over the life of the loan.

About this example

The initial payment schedule is set upon receiving final terms and upon confirmation by your school of the loan amount. You may repay this loan at any time by paying an effective APR of 23%. The maximum amount you will pay is $22,500 (not including Late Fees and Returned Check Fees, if any). The maximum number of regularly scheduled payments you will make is 60. You will not pay more than 23% APR. No payment is required if your gross earned income is below $30,000 annually or if you lose your job and cannot find employment.

2. Edly Student IBR Loans are unsecured personal student loans issued by FinWise Bank, a Utah chartered commercial bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to eligibility criteria and review of creditworthiness and history. Terms and conditions apply.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  • Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of September 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 2.23%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.
  • Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
  • Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.


    Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.25%-10.35% (3.25% – 9.69% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.24% – 10.59% (4.24% – 9.93% APR). 

    Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.75%-9.90% (3.75% – 9.68% APR). Fixed interest rates range from  5.22% – 10.14% (5.22% – 9.91% APR). 

    Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.75%-9.35% (3.75% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 5.20% – 9.59% (5.20% – 9.39% APR).

    Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.75%-9.02% (3.75% -8.98% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 5.18% – 9.26% (5.18% – 9.22% APR). 

    Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.25%-9.21% (3.25% – 9.21% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 3.96%-9.50% (3.96%-9.50% APR).

    Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 6.58%-11.72% (6.58% – 11.62% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.82% APR). 

    Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 5.67%-9.17% (5.67% – 8.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.97% – 10.08% APR).

6 Important Disclosures for Funding U.

Funding U Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.