College is more expensive than it’s ever been, and it also seems more necessary. If you’ve peaked at any job posting, you’ve probably seen that most of them require a college degree. They don’t pay enough to cover the student loan debt you might have incurred when you went to school, but they need a degree nonetheless.
For this reason, more students are looking into the possibility of obtaining a full-tuition scholarship to their school of choice. Ahead, we’ll give you some tips on turning that idea into a reality.
Full-tuition scholarships are the ideal situation for any future college student. When you hear that someone got a “full ride” to their school for academic achievement or athletic ability, these are not the scholarships the person is talking about.
Full-tuition scholarships are a bit different. You’ve likely researched the cost of going to college a bit by now, so you know that tuition is only a fraction of the total cost associated with the college experience.
In some cases – like when you receive a discount for going to a state school and living in that state – tuition is one of the least expensive parts of attending college. You have to pay for your books, housing, meal plans, school supplies, and other costs that might be school or region specific.
Full-tuition scholarships take a substantial chunk of that cost off of your hands. They’ll pay the tens of thousands of dollars for you to attend school, while you remain responsible for the other side of the price.
Some full-tuition scholarships include a full-ride, but these scholarships are even more difficult to obtain.
Merit-based scholarships are a way for schools to attract students through financial aid. They don’t usually take financial security into account when awarding these scholarships, so you can still receive one even if your family can afford to pay for school.
If you’re applying to one of the more prestigious colleges in the nation, you shouldn’t expect them to offer many (if any) merit-based scholarships. Their name and status attract students on its own, so they don’t need to provide any further incentives for top students to apply.
If you happen to apply to one of these schools and can’t afford to go, though, some private and public organizations offer merit-based scholarships for which you can apply.
These scholarships usually have an element if income verification, but don’t always. If your parents want you to make your way on your own, for instance, these scholarships are probably what you’ll want to consider.
Other schools and private organizations award students scholarships by finances. They want the top students to attend college, even if they can’t afford the high price of tuition.
You might even find these programs at some of the most prestigious colleges in the country. They want to keep their numbers high and tell stories of students who beat the odds to become CEOs after attending their school.
The financial hardship story is friendly to colleges who want to attract high-performing students, so you should apply for these scholarships if your school offers them.
Of course, there is an element of merit on these income-based scholarships as well. They don’t just award their scholarship to the poorest student. You’ll still need a killer application, with some references, extra-curricular activities, and references to back it up.
Tips on Obtaining a Full-Tuition Scholarship
If you’re still in high school and maintain an above-average GPA, you’re on the right track to receiving a scholarship of some kind. If you’re finishing the process of applying to colleges, there are only a few tweaks you can make to your scholarship resume to help your chances.
If you’re a sophomore or a junior and are already thinking about college, congratulations – you’re much further ahead than most people your age. On top of that, you have even more of a chance to pad your scholarship request with some of the tips we’re about to show you.
There are several ways you can increase your chances of receiving a full-tuition scholarship. For these tips, we’ll take a look at merit-based scholarships, since these are the easiest to plan for. You can use some of these tips for income-based scholarships as well, as the decision committee usually chooses the applicants with the best history of positive acts.
Start Applying Early
Applying for anything early will give you the best chance at getting what you want. Scholls get bogged-down with last-minute resumes. After reviewing so many college applications, spots start to fill, and the last half of the applicants suffer for it.
The same is true with scholarships. You’ll have a better chance at receiving a scholarship if you’re one of the first few people to apply. Start planning your application early, and figure out what you’re going to write even earlier.
The sooner you have all of your noteworthy accomplishments in print, the better the chances a school or organization will offer you free tuition in the form of a scholarship.
Show that You’re a Leader
Colleges love young leaders because they know they’ll gravitate towards leadership positions in the future. Colleges are padding their own resumes in a sense. The more people that attend their school and go on to do great things, the easier it is to recruit young men and women who will do the same.
The college to which you’re applying wants people they can display in their “Where Are They Now” section in their annual newsletter. They want you to go on to become a CEO of a company, and demonstrating leadership skills in high school is one of the ways they’ll see this in your future.
Being a leader in the classroom is one of the simplest steps you can take to achieve this goal. Run for school office and show that you can win the support of your classmates if you want to take things a step further. If this is out of the question, join a club and rise the ranks there.
If you prefer competing in athletics, you can demonstrate leadership skills by competing, being a good teammate, and inspiring the coach to name you as one of the team captains. You don’t have to win a scholarship through your athletic ability. Other merit-based scholarships will take athletic leadership into account.
You’ll want to have as many teachers and school administrators on your side as you possibly can. You don’t have to suck-up to teachers you don’t like, but spend some time with the teachers you like and admire.
Spending extra time with teachers and expressing an interest in learning more about a subject will show initiative. Your teachers will admire you for this, and you’ll have a wealth of references when it comes time to apply for schools and scholarships.
Again, this is a place where athletic relationships are beneficial as well. You don’t have to be the most talented player on the team, but you can outwork everyone else. Show your coach how important succeeding is to you, and they’ll likely grow fond of you as a result.
Colleges love to hear from former coaches, as this gives them an idea of your leadership and teamwork skills.
Participate in Community Service
Community service is one of the biggest hacks to full-tuition scholarships on this list. It takes some extra time and effort after school, but it could save you thousands of dollars when you finally graduate.
There are dozens of local community service projects in which you can participate. You’re bound to find something that interests you. Don’t fall into the trap of jumping around in community service, though. This might hurt your cause.
Colleges want you to take a genuine interest in the community or a particular topic. They don’t want someone who participated in a few different community service projects because they know it will help their chances of winning a scholarship.
Pick a project and see it through to the end. Spend a few hours a week working with other community members on a project, and try your best to finish it with them. Padding your resume with ten half-baked community projects won’t do you any favors.
Stand Out From the Pack
The first way you can distinguish yourself from other applicants is to have a stellar academic resume. Your GPA should be well above average, and you should enroll in classes that will challenge you intellectually.
Keep in mind that a fantastic GPA doesn’t mean much if you pad it with a bunch of low-level classes. You should be taking advanced classes to show that you have what it takes to excel at the next level. Scholarships are usually more inclined to reward ambition than good grades without supplementation.
If grades are your strong suit, focus your efforts on other areas. Most of the applicants for a full-tuition scholarship will have good grades, so you need to make yourself stand out in one way or another. This might be through community service or leadership efforts – the choice is up to you.
Stay focused, determined, and give these schools and organization to choose you over everyone else they see.