full-ride scholarship

Full-Tuition and Full-Ride Scholarships: Are They the Same?

I think most students would agree that finding a scholarship that covers all of their college expenses would be a huge blessing. But would that award be called a full-tuition scholarship or a full-ride scholarship? With so many people using the terms interchangeably, it can get a bit confusing. Personally, a school could call its award the ‘We’ll Pay for Everything’ Scholarship, and I wouldn’t care, especially if it meant I was taking out fewer student loans. I do, however, think it’s important for students to understand the subtle differences in each program.

Full-Tuition ScholarshipsLet’s start with the full-tuition scholarship. Just as the name suggests, it covers tuition costs at college. This typically is restricted to the published tuition, but may also include lab or other student fees, as well as books. Many colleges offer full-tuition scholarships to incoming freshmen (or transfer students) for high academic achievement, such as scoring within a certain range on the SAT or ACT, or meeting a required grade point average (GPA) or class ranking. Although some colleges have one set of standards, many require out-of-state students to achieve even higher academic marks to qualify for these awards. Some colleges also offer guaranteed scholarships; this means students who meet the requirements will automatically receive the award. Here are two examples of guaranteed, full-tuition scholarship programs.

Louisiana State University at Shreveport

First-time, full-time freshmen who have an ACT of 30 or higher, as well as a GPA of 3.5 or higher, are eligible for the Louisiana Scholarship. This award covers tuition, fees, and also provides a book allowance.

University of Alabama

The University of Alabama offers the Presidential Scholar Award to incoming freshmen who apply before the scholarship priority deadline of December 15. In-state students must have a 3.5 GPA or higher, and score above a 30 on the ACT or 1330 (reading and math) on the SAT. Out-of-state students must meet the same GPA requirement, but need to score above a 32 on the ACT or 1400 on the SAT. The award covers tuition only over four years.

Most colleges, however, award full-tuition scholarships on a competitive basis. This means that out-of-state and in-state students will be competing for the same awards. Competitive scholarships are usually limited in number and are typically given to the top students selected for admission. Here are just a few of the colleges that offer this type of full-tuition scholarships.

Knox CollegePresidential Scholarship

University of IllinoisProvost Scholarship

Tulane UniversityDean’s Honor Scholarship and the Paul Tulane Award

Boston UniversityTrustee Scholarship

In addition to colleges, other organizations also provide full-tuition scholarships. The military offers several through various ROTC programs, such as the Air Force ROTC High School Student Scholarship Program, and Microsoft provides several scholarships that cover the cost of tuition for one academic year.

Full Ride to CollegeOf course, the scholarship that most students really want to secure is a full-ride scholarship. This type of award not only covers tuition and fees, but also books, room and board, supplies, and sometimes even living expenses. Some awards also cover the costs for study abroad programs. These awards are limited in number and are highly competitive. Here are few examples of full-ride scholarships that are offered through various colleges.

University of Kentucky

Through its Otis A. Singletary Scholarship Program, the University of Kentucky provides a four-year award that covers tuition, room and board, a yearly $1,500 stipend, and a $2,000 stipend for a summer abroad program. Students also receive an iPad with this scholarship.

Davidson College

Incoming freshmen who are selected to receive the John Montgomery Belk Scholarship do not have to pay out-of-pocket for tuition, fees, or room and board; each scholarship recipient also receives a substantial stipend to pursue other academic endeavors.

North Carolina State University

Approximately 40 high school seniors receive the Park Scholarship annually. This four-year award covers tuition, fees, room, board, books, supplies, travel and personal expenses. Students also receive computer stipends and have access to grants for research projects, service activities, and conferences.

Several organizations also provide full-ride scholarships to exceptional students. Some target underserved or underrepresented populations, such as the one offered through the Tom Joyner Foundation. Any high achieving student who plans to attend a historically black college or university (HBCU) may be eligible to receive this award, which covers tuition, fees, room, board, and books for up to 10 semesters. Another scholarship that benefits minority students is the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. To receive one of these prestigious awards, students must not only meet certain academic standards, but must also demonstrate financial need. Unlike the majority of full-tuition and full-ride scholarships, this program is not restricted to incoming freshmen. Graduate students in various fields may also apply for funding. Outstanding high school seniors in Colorado also have access to the Boettcher Scholarship, which pays for four years of tuition, fees, and books, and also includes an annual $2,800 living stipend. Students selected for this full-ride scholarship also have access to enrichment programs and educational grants.

Earning one of these coveted awards can truly make a huge difference for students financially, but most should not expect to win full-tuition or full-ride scholarships; only a very small percentage of students receive such scholarships. Instead, students should consider a variety of funding options, including need-based grants, private scholarships, part-time work, or even crowdfunding campaigns. No matter the size of the award, every little bit helps when paying for college!

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About

Tamara is the Social Media Coordinator and a regular writer for ScholarshipExperts.com, eStudentLoan.com and CampusDiscovery.com. She enjoys helping students prepare for college. As a mother of four, Tamara has first-hand experience with many areas of education, including special needs (autism), the International Baccalaureate program and post-secondary education. She enjoys speaking at schools and mentoring others online. In her free time, Tamara enjoys volunteering and supporting her favorite football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
10 Responses to “Full-Tuition and Full-Ride Scholarships: Are They the Same?”
  1. Joy Milan says:

    Hi Tamara,

    I hope you can help me. My son’s PSAT score is 228. SAT is 2310. Robotics (FIRST), orchestra violin, latin competitions, Eagle Scout, 2 Presidential Youth service awards, but unfortunately NO MONEY. He would like to become a mechnical engineer or electrical engineer. GPA weighted is 4.6.

    Do you have any suggestions where he could get a great education in Engineering with FULL RIDE?

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Hi Joy. I’m betting he’s been applying to some of the best schools, right? That’s not going to land him a full-ride scholarship because a ton of other top-notch students will also be competing for those few golden tickets offered. If he really would like to receive some larger scholarships, I suggest looking into some lesser-known schools or smaller private schools. Even then, the chances for a full-ride are slim to none. In fact, less than 1% of all college students earn enough scholarships to cover all their expenses. I suggest having him create a free account with ScholarshipExperts.com and start tackling private scholarships, specifically those that require a lot of work or larger essays. The more work that is involved, the fewer people he will be competiting with for the award. Make sure he checks out the NESA STEM Scholarship ($50,000) when it opens in a few months.

  2. Yassine Mejdouli says:

    Hello Tamara,
    I am a bit confused about a full tuition scholarship I received. The school is also having me fill out a FASFA and I am wondering how receiving a grant would go toward the college.

    • Tamara Krause says:

      Most colleges require students to complete the FAFSA in order to receive any institutional financial aid, such as your full-tuition scholarship. In addition, if you qualify for federal aid, the additional funding could help cover any remaining costs you may incur (I noticed you did not say full-ride, so I am assuming your room and board, and other fees aren’t covered). If, however, your institutional aid meets your full cost of attendance, any additional federal aid you receive may decrease the amount offered by your college. You would still receive the same total amount of funding, but it would be a combination of funding from the government and your school. Your school could then take the money previously slated for you and use it to help other students who do not qualify for any federal assistance. Completing the FAFSA will not cause you to lose funding, per se; it just may reallocate where it’s coming from.

  3. Latisha Cooksey says:

    Hello , I am a college student , doing a research paper on financial aid. I would like to let you know that this article has been very supportive. Thank You.

  4. Solomon Johnson says:

    Hey! I could use some help finding some scholarships. I just moved into college today. (1st year). I am trying to find as much as I can on here. I am a musician. Are there any music/academic scholarships on here for College freshman?

  5. jinen says:

    hi tamara mam .. are there any colleges where i can get admission on the basis of ACT only

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