How to Get a Full Ride Scholarship – Ultimate Scholarship Guide

Earning a degree requires a significant investment of time, work, and money. Graduating from high school entails financial sacrifices as well as major educational and career benefits.

But what if the money problem didn’t exist at all? What if you could go to school and not have to worry about paying tuition or accruing interest? All of your college expenses are covered by a full ride scholarship.

Instead of worrying about paying your expenses, you may concentrate on the more important tasks at hand, such as studying for that big exam or completing your term paper on time.

I’ll explain all you need to know about how to acquire a full ride scholarship, including what it is, who qualifies for one, and where to look for one.

What is the meaning of a full ride scholarship?

If you’ve done your homework on how much college will cost you, you’ll know that tuition isn’t the only cost you’ll have to consider: you’ll also need to budget for housing and board, fees, textbooks, transportation, and personal costs.

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The total cost of attendance, or CoA, is the sum of all of these expenses. The cost of attendance (CoA) for a bachelor’s degree can range from over $200,000 depending on where you go to school.

Full ride scholarships are unique in that they cover all college-related expenses, including the complete cost of attendance.

A conventional “scholarship” is given based on merit rather than financial necessity, which means that a student could receive a full ride scholarship even if her family is not poor.

However, there are alternative ways to earn a full ride besides traditional scholarship programs. Free money is free money, whether it’s given on the basis of merit or financial necessity, therefore in this essay, I’ll discuss alternatives to the private scholarship path for covering your CoA.

The easiest way to acquire a full ride scholarship (and have all of your expenses paid for) is to use a multi-pronged strategy, applying to all of the following:

  • Scholarships offered by private organizations (both merit- and need-based)
  • Institutional financial aid based on need
  • Scholarships awarded by institutions on the basis of merit

Private Full-Ride Scholarships are available.

Full-ride scholarships appear almost too good to be true: how could you get all of your education expenses paid for, regardless of your family’s financial situation?

These kinds of scholarship programs definitely exist, but they’re not as common as you may think. A private full-ride scholarship will be awarded to less than 20,000 students per year – that may seem like a lot, but remember that nearly 20 million students are anticipated to attend college this autumn (so about 0.1 percent of students, or one in 1000, get full-ride scholarships).

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Because these scholarships are so competitive, a large number of qualified applicants will be turned down.

This should not deter you from applying, but don’t base your hopes on any of these awards; if you’re serious about obtaining outside funding (which I’ll discuss later), you should have excellent backup plans.

Now for the good news: you don’t have to worry about wasting time exploring different scholarship programs. We offer some excellent resources on the best scholarship opportunities available.

Start with our list of the finest full-ride scholarships, then look through our lists of the greatest scholarships for high school juniors and seniors.

Schools offer full-ride scholarships.

With one application, you can kill two birds with one stone: get into a college and obtain a full ride. If you’re a particularly attractive applicant or have a significant financial need, some institutions will pay for your CoAs.

To receive a full scholarship from any school, you must be a compelling applicant – either competitive enough to receive merit-based awards or academically strong enough to gain admission to a top-ranked school.

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More information about merit-based and need-based full-ride school scholarships can be found here.

Schools that provide full scholarships based on merit

Scholarships are often awarded on the basis of merit rather than financial need. Scholarships are used by some schools to recruit strong students regardless of their family’s financial circumstances.

Because they don’t have to compete for students, top institutions don’t usually grant merit scholarships (the applicant pool is already really strong).

Schools that provide full scholarships to students who qualify based on financial need

Some of the strongest financial aid programs are found at some of the most competitive universities, such as Harvard.

Some institutions have extensive financial aid programs that will cover the entire cost of attendance for those who have a significant financial need.

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The majority of schools that offer these types of programs are prestigious private colleges. If you have a high financial need and want to attend one of these elite institutions on a full scholarship, you’ll have to concentrate your efforts on getting in.

How to Get a Full Ride Scholarship in 5 Easy Steps

You’ll want to know how to receive a full ride scholarship now that you know where to look for them. The tactics listed below will help you earn an award regardless of the funding source.

In general, the things you can do to improve your chances of getting a full ride scholarship are the same things you can do to improve your chances of getting into college.

You’ll have a better chance of receiving merit-based scholarships if you’re a solid college candidate.

Finally, you’ll have a better chance of getting into a good college that offers considerable need-based help.

This strategy guide will lead you through the measures you may take to improve your chances of receiving funding in general.

Start thinking about scholarship applications as early as the first day of your freshman year of high school.

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Scholarship programs and admissions officers consider a variety of characteristics, the majority of which cannot be improved at the last minute.

To increase your chances of receiving a full scholarship, you should be near the top of your class and have a strong leadership and community service record.

You should also cultivate positive relationships with professors and mentors who can write glowing letters of recommendation for you.

Finally, you should have a strategy in place to ensure that you meet all application deadlines.

Although there are many boxes to check, this guide will assist you in getting everything in order.

Demonstrate a high level of academic achievement.

It’s not just about having a high GPA; it’s also about taking difficult classes. Take as many advanced or AP classes as possible to make a strong impression.

If you’re having trouble with a particular subject (everyone has flaws), seek extra aid from teachers to avoid lowering your marks.

Aim for the top 10% of your class rankings if you want to achieve absolutely exceptional academic results.

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If you want to be considered for some of the most prestigious full scholarships (such as the Gates Millennium), you’ll almost certainly need to be at the top of your class.

Develop your leadership abilities.

Private scholarship committees, in particular, aim to invest in future leaders and provide scholarships to individuals they believe will succeed in business, politics, academics, and other fields.

Scholarship committees can only assess your future leadership potential by looking at your previous experience.

Be an active participant in the classroom in order to improve your own leadership qualities (teachers will be able to speak to your leadership potential in letters of recommendation). Raise your hand, volunteer to lead projects or groups, and, if feasible, assist other students.

Join extracurricular groups, but prioritize quality over number by selecting clubs or activities that you can commit to for the long run.

As a result, there will be more opportunity to advance to club officer or team captain positions. If there aren’t many activities that interest you at school, consider forming your own club, organization, or charity.

Invest in Volunteering in Community Service

Schools and private scholarship programs both aspire to invest in kids who will “pay it forward” or do good in the world.

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Demonstrate to funding sources that you are this type of individual who has done community work in the past.

Quality, as with clubs and other extracurriculars, takes precedence over quantity. Early on, try to find something that interests you and stick with it.

Participation on a weekly basis is ideal. Start with our guide to the nine greatest places to undertake community service work if you’re looking for ideas on where to begin.

Develop Mentor and Instructor Relationships

This step is critical for several reasons:

Having mentors who can provide you with credible professional, personal, and academic advice is really beneficial.

People that are willing to write strong letters of recommendation should be on your side.

Show respect for your class, sports team, group, or hobby to start creating these ties. Demonstrate to potential mentors and instructors that you are ready and able to participate actively.

Follow up by seeking additional assistance from leaders and demonstrating an interest in the appropriate topic area.

Prepare ahead of time

For both college and scholarship applications, you’ll have a lot of deadlines to keep track of. Scholarship application deadlines can be all over the place, unfortunately.

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Many of the best scholarships have early deadlines in your senior year, so make a list of scholarships you’d like to apply to by the end of your junior year.

Giving oneself adequate time to complete applications is also vital, especially if you have to submit personal statements or essays.

Also, bear in mind that if you need to submit letters of recommendation, you should give letter writers 10-12 weeks’ notice.

If You Don’t Think You’ll Get a Full Ride Scholarship, Here’s What You Should Do

Let’s imagine you’re an excellent student but don’t believe you’ll be eligible for a full-ride scholarship.

You might not be intellectually good enough to win a top merit-based scholarship or get into a top-ranked college, but you also don’t show enough financial need to qualify for significant aid.

What are your plans for the future?

Even if it’s patched together from several funding sources, a full ride is still a complete ride. Here are some ideas for coming up with a complete ride:

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  • Apply to a variety of scholarship opportunities. The more programs you apply to, the better your chances of getting one (or more) scholarships.
  • Investigate more specialized or local scholarship opportunities. Scholarships for smaller amounts of money may be less competitive than full-ride programs.
  • Concentrate on the tips listed above for obtaining a full-ride scholarship. Even if you don’t think you’ll win a major prize, improving your abilities, resume, and grades will help you get more financing.

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