Full-ride scholarships are the college applicant’s Holy Grail. Granted, they’re hard to get, but if you can lay your hands on one, you’ve got it made.
No more agonizing about graduating from college buried in debt. No more navigating the confusing financial aid landscape, trying to grasp the difference between subsidized and unsubsidized loans. No more worrying about how to juggle classes and a well-paid job at the same time.
But we should warn you: Snagging a full-ride scholarship is no easy feat. Very few college applicants pull it off. The competition is cutthroat. The standards are sky high. And the awards can seem random.
Still, if you go into the process with no illusions, it can’t hurt to apply for a full-ride scholarship or two. After all, what do you have to lose?
Below are a few full-ride scholarships that will cover your entire college experience.
Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship
What is it? If you caddied during high school, you may qualify for one of 900 full-ride scholarships offered by the Western Golf Association. Most Evans Scholars attend one of 15 universities across the nation, where they live together in Evans Scholarship Houses.
Basic requirements: You must have a “strong caddie record, excellent grades, outstanding character, and demonstrated financial need” to get this scholarship. Over your four years of college, you also need to keep your grades up and participate in Evans Scholarship House activities.
How do you apply? Read the application instructions and apply online. You will have to write an essay.
Deadline: Get your application in before Sept. 30, 2017, for priority consideration.
SMART Scholarship for Service
What is it? The Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to encourage students pursuing careers in the STEM disciplines. This full-ride scholarship comes with a couple of strings: A mandatory summer internship with the DOD and a mandatory post-graduation job offer. In other words, if you don’t see yourself working at the Defense Department, don’t apply for this scholarship.
Basic requirements: You must be currently enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university as an undergraduate or graduate student (no high schoolers), majoring in one of 19 STEM disciplines. You must be prepared to work for the DOD one year for each year you received the scholarship.
How do you apply? Apply online after reading the application instructions. The application is quite lengthy and you will need to get references.
Deadline: Dec. 1, 2017.
Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway
What is it? How’s your throwing arm? Soda maker Dr. Pepper will give five $100,000 scholarships to finalists who win half-time passing competitions at big college football championship games this December.
Basic requirements: You must be between the ages of 18 and 24.
How do you apply? To make it to the finals, start with a post on Facebook describing “how you'll change the world” in 350 characters or less. If enough of your friends vote on your post, you’ll have the chance to post a video of yourself to reach more fans and impress the judges. Learn more here.
Deadline: Oct. 18, 2017.
Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program
What is it? The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation—named for and founded by a successful sports franchise owner—awards scholarships of up to $40,000 per year to “high-achieving high school seniors with financial need who seek to attend and graduate from the nation's best four-year colleges and universities.”
Basic requirements: You must be graduating from a U.S. high school in spring 2018 and starting college at an accredited institution beginning in fall 2018. You must have a high school GPA of 3.5 or better. The foundation selects winners based on academic ability and achievement, unmet financial need, persistence, leadership, and service to others.
How do you apply? The application starts with an online form and includes long and short essays. You will need to get two recommendations from teachers and submit your parents’ financial information.
Deadline: The deadline for 2017 has passed. Watch the foundation website for the 2018 deadline.
Exploring Some Normal Scholarships
If you can’t land a full-ride, you still have choices. Do some research and you’ll find plenty of other scholarships out there. Get started with some of our scholarship lists:
Find Other Scholarships
There are plenty of partial scholarships that pay for some—if not most—of your college tuition. Learn how to find them in our free Financial Aid Quick Guide to Scholarships. Get your copy by clicking on the banner below.