How to Get a Full Ride Scholarship?

Learn about Full Ride Scholarship, where to look for them, how to apply for one and more.

Updated by TCM Staff on 25th August 2020

Students are bestowed with a plethora of scholarship opportunities to help them in their journey of success. These scholarships vary in nature, details, and more. Regardless of the varying dynamics, they help a long way in a student’s academic career. The full-ride scholarship is one of the many scholarships that offer full sponsorship of college expenses.

In this article, we’ll be discussing what is a Full Ride Scholarship? How to get it? Where to get it and more.

How do you get Full Ride Scholarships?

Full ride scholarships have a varying nature. Each scholarship varies depending on the type of full-ride scholarship one is seeking. However,  most share similar criteria, as these look for high achieving students. 

The eligibility criteria may depend on the type of full-ride scholarship you are applying for and also depending on the scholarship provider’s expectation.

Most students have one common doubt, that is “can an international student be eligible for Full-ride scholarship?”. So, the fact is that the majority of scholarships are mostly available to US citizens, and in some cases, the scholarships are available to students who reside in the US but not a citizen of US.

And most of these scholarships are looking for students, who should be at the top percent of the class, and the student should have high test scores. 

The student should also possess strong characteristics such as Leadership skills, communication skills, community involvement, and many more.

Below are top hacks to secure full-ride scholarships

Test Scores 

There are specific PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT tests that the candidate must possess. 

Letters of recommendation 

A reference letter (shedding light on your personality) from a boss, teacher, a mentor is an added bonus.

Personal essay 

The most unique essays are regarded and candidates are selected accordingly. 

Smart search

The first question that pops in your mind is “where to look for full-ride scholarships?” The easiest sources for these scholarships are the universities you have applied to. Visit the university website and search for funding opportunities offered by them. There are also multiple scholarship search sites like InternationalScholarships, FastWeb, etc that lists scholarship opportunities based on location, subject and student groups (e.g. African students )

Stay prepared 

Gather all the necessities before your scholarship interview (if any). Do your research on the institution, make a list of the probable interview questions, prepare answers for the same, formulate queries to be asked to the interviewers and dress smartly.

Hard work and determination always pay off!

There is no shortcut to success. There are smart ways to achieve it, though! Nevertheless, hard work and perseverance always pay off. Work hard to make yourself stand out in the crowd and stay motivated! If you think you can, you can! Keep hustling, keep working! 

Be unique 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! It also makes Jack put himself in the ‘crowd cliche’. It’s a stag's race, and the competition has escalated from 0 to 10 real quick. 

Along with your academic prowess, you need to have a few extracurriculars on your portfolio. This portfolio can also include demonstrations of your commitment to the community and your volunteer work. With so much competition to get a full scholarship, it’s crucial to stand out from the pool of applicants by demonstrating a real commitment to bettering yourself as an individual. 

What is a full-ride scholarship?

A full-ride scholarship is a financial aid awarded to the students that most certainly covers every college and study-related expenses and sometimes even the living expenses of the student depending on the type of full-ride scholarship. As it is a scholarship it is completely free, you don’t have to pay back the money.

Getting scholarships can be a great relief in terms of saving you from paying thousands of dollars for college tuition fee, but what if the scholarship money could cover only half of your tuition fee, and as a student, you might have some more education-related expenses which you might not be able to cover, what will you do then? Don’t get stressed. Full ride scholarship will save you in such a situation. 

Types of a full-ride scholarship

Just like any other scholarship, even full-ride scholarship can be claimed by any student who has the potential and the required talent the scholarship providers expects, sometimes you don’t even need any talent or overwhelming academic skills to be eligible for a full-ride scholarship, you’ll simply need to be from a specific background or community.

There are many ways for a student to be eligible for a full-ride scholarship. They can be offered by the school, private organizations, or by a federal institution.


It is a very common type of scholarship, where the students are awarded the money (not directly in most cases) considering their academic excellence. In some cases, it also includes GPA, SAT, and ACT exams results as well. 


This need-based full-ride scholarship is basically awarded to students with lower income, mostly these type of need-based scholarships are offered by the school/college and even by the Federal institution and private organizations.


Students who are interested and excelled in ROTC or studying at a military academy are awarded the full-ride scholarship by the government.


A few states offer programs that will help students cover the cost of college for the students. To know more contact your college scholarship office.


This athletic full-ride scholarship is provided to students who show excellence in certain athletic fields. Remember, the athletic-based scholarship only considers student’s performance only in a few sports such as gymnastics, tennis, volleyball, football, soccer, and basketball for both men’s and women’s.


These types of scholarships are offered on the basis of student’s leadership skills, service, or excellence in the management area and etc.


Students who come from a particular community, background, and some other characteristic attributes. 

Additional options

Apart from the aforementioned types, there is still a number of reasons through which the student can get a full-ride scholarship and be benefitted from it such as brand scholarship, career-specific, heritage, legacy-based, and etc.

How much is a Full-ride scholarship worth?

As you know the scholarships are completely free, you don’t have to pay them regardless of certain situations, where you’ll have to pay back the scholarship

Full-ride scholarships cost more than the ordinary scholarship, so it has high competition as well as not easy to get. But it is definitely possible. Because it not only covers your tuition fees but also other education-related expenses as well. Approximately for a student pursuing an undergraduate degree, the full-ride scholarship costs around $16,000 to $18,000 per year, in a public institution including tuition fees, room and boarding expenses, and if it is a Private institution then it may cost form $25,000 to $35,000 per year. 

Likewise, for a bachelor’s degree, the full-ride scholarship may worth an average of $60,000 to $70,000 in-case of a public institution and for a private institution, it may range from $90,000 to $1,50,000. Don’t get too excited by the amount of money, these full-ride scholarships won’t be given to you directly in most cases. It is given you indirectly by clearing all your education-related expenses such as books and boarding etc by the management or scholarship provider, and remember only a few scholarship providers gives the entire scholarship money as a chunk but others give them in form of installments such as semester wise or year wise depending on the specific scholarship policies.

When to apply for scholarships?

Starting with a piece of good news is that, few full-ride scholarships are available throughout the year, but not all types of a full-ride scholarship can be available all the time.

Application deadlines will occur mostly during the academic year, specifically from September to May. If you think you have a lot of time to apply for it, then remember that you just know the deadline for a few scholarships and in addition to that you’ll have high competition. So instead of hasting at the last moment, it would be a good idea if you start searching and start preparing yourself for the scholarship.

Full-ride scholarships with a large reward will not wait for a maximum period of time. To be aware of the scholarship’s eligibility requirement and deadline information contact the scholarship provider.

FAFSA completion will be required if you looking for a federal full-ride scholarship so it would be a wise decision to complete the FAFSA at the earliest as possible.

How to apply?

  • Be aware of the list of colleges that offer Full-ride scholarships and apply for most of them or even all of them.

  • Check your eligibility status according to the requirements and policies of the scholarship providers

  • Be clear about the documents required and keep your scholarship application and documents organized in order.

  • Try to spend time volunteering, demonstrating your educational, athletic, and leadership excellence. Take that as an opportunity and work on developing your skills and talent.

  • Try to spend some time in community service, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are looking for a community-based full-ride scholarship. It is a volunteering activity but also provides the luck of getting a community-based scholarship.

  • Visit your college’s scholarship office if your college is providing any full-ride scholarship, be clear about the policies and eligibility criteria.

  • Once you are all set, start applying for the scholarships. And wait for a response from the scholarship provider after applying, usually, it takes 2-3 weeks to be processed. Sometimes the scholarship providers will only send a response to the recipient, so don’t get obsessed over one scholarship.

Where to look?

In case you don’t know where to look for, starting with the colleges would be a good start. There number of colleges that offer a full-ride scholarship

Here are a few best colleges if you’re searching for a Full-ride scholarship.

What should you do if you don’t get a full-ride scholarship?

A student who fails to qualify for a full-ride scholarship does not need to fret! An array of scholarships can be stitched together to serve the purpose of a singular full-ride scholarship. Students can apply and qualify for multiple scholarships since there is no limit to the number of scholarships one can secure. More the merrier! 

It is highly recommended to opt for smaller scholarships as they are less competitive than the bigger full-ride scholarships. research, understand, and begin your applying spree.

Pay heed to your resume and portfolio. Be as marketable as possible. In this rat’s race, try to be a stag! Build skills and expand your horizon of knowledge. There is nothing like a unique identity in the crowd of cliche!


Full-ride scholarships are a haven for every student, regardless of his/her economic status. They are reflections of the exemplary skills of students in one or more domains. A full-ride scholarship aspirant should build a strong portfolio to avail the perks of these scholarships. Students are also required to stay up to date on the various changes, amendments, and initiations for the desired category of the full-ride scholarships. 

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