6 Full-Ride Scholarships That Cover Tuition and More

 July 20, 2021
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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.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
0.99% – 11.98%1Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit College Ave

1.13% – 11.23%*,2Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit SallieMae

0.99% – 11.44%3Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.50% – 11.33%4Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit Ascent

1.12% – 11.23%5Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.15% – 11.01%6Undergraduate
Graduate

VISIT CITIZENS

N/A7Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit FundingU

3.80% – 9.36%8Undergraduate
Graduate

Visit CommonBond

* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.

1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust 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.

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.

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. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student 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 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. 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 8/9/2021. 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 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

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

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Rates include 0.25% Auto Pay Discount
     
  2. Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
    Rates shown include 0.25% APR discount when client agrees to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment. Use of autopay is not required to receive an Earnest loan.

    Available Terms
    For Cosigned loans – 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 years. 
    Primary Only – 10, 12, 15 years

    In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).


4 Important Disclosures for Ascent.

Ascent Disclosures

Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs.

Rates are effective as of 10/01/2021 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit AscentFunding.com/Cashback. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.


5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

Sofi Disclosures

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.66% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.90% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.10% to 11.34% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.08% to 10.86% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.05% to 11.29% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 10.66% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.20% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (>www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.15% – 11.01% (1.15% – 10.24 APR)Fixed interest rates range from 4.18% – 11.70% (4.18% – 10.83% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 10.66% (1.89% – 10.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.64% – 11.23%% (4.64% – 10.95% APR).

Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 9.22% (1.89% – 8.50% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.38% – 10.44% (4.38% – 9.72% APR).

Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 8.02% (1.89% – 7.72% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.28% – 9.24% (4.28% – 8.94% APR).

Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.97% – 7.06% (1.97% – 7.06% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.94% – 8.58% (4.94% – 8.58% APR).

Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.44% – 9.58% (4.44% – 9.52% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.83% APR).

Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.53% – 7.03% (3.53% – 6.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.98% – 10.09% APR).

Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of June 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or 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 require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate 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.

Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer.  Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.

Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.


7 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.


8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.  If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.