Niche Resources

Four Full-Tuition Scholarships You Need To Apply To

This post is from a student, parent, or professional contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the positions, viewpoints, or policies of Niche.

When looking at colleges, it is undeniable that an important factor to consider is cost. For many, it is the deciding factor.

Most colleges in the United States cost several thousand dollars per semester for tuition alone, and costs of room and board and other expenses can add several thousand more on top of that.

Realistically, most people cannot afford to pay for their education out-of-pocket. Many schools offer great financial aid, which can cover a good portion of the cost. The government can help out sometimes too, such as through the FAFSA. Furthermore, colleges may offer a bit of money to students for merit (academics or sports).

Even so, quite a bit can be for the student to pay out-of-pocket or through loans. It is completely understandable if that is not viable, but it can be disappointing to think you cannot go to your dream school for something as basic as price.

Fortunately, there are several full-tuition scholarships out there that can cover the vast majority of your attendance costs and leave you with the freedom to attend the school of your choice. Here are a few I recommend:


QuestBridge is an organization that students can apply to in order to earn a scholarship that covers the full cost of attendance for all four years. This includes tuition, room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses.

This is available to low-income students attending an American high school (regardless of citizenship) with a high level of academic achievement. This means your SAT score must be over 1280, or ACT over 27, you must have a relatively high GPA, you must be taking the most challenging courses your high school has to offer, and you must rank highly in your graduating class.

If accepted to be a finalist, students can apply early through QuestBridge to any of their approximately 50 partner schools. These schools are among the finest in the United States and also tend to be some of the most expensive. QuestBridge opens the door to these universities in spite of the high sticker price.

One thing to note is that being a part of QuestBridge does not necessarily mean you will get accepted to the partner school you are interested in. Also, applying early to schools like these tends to be a binding decision, so it is best to do so only if you are sure that the school you are applying to is one you would be happy to attend.

It is possible to apply through QuestBridge for regular decision as well, but there is not the same guarantee of the full-cost scholarship that there is when applying early. Regardless, QuestBridge generally makes dreams of attending big-name schools accessible to students with any budget.

The Gates Scholarship

The Gates Scholarship is another one that covers the full cost of attendance for students. It is quite competitive, and the criteria for eligibility are a little more specific.

You must be one of the following ethnicities: African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American, and/or Hispanic American, as well as being a citizen in the United States. You also must be eligible for the Pell Grant, as determined by the FAFSA, and you must have a GPA of 3.3 or higher on the 4.0 scale.

The recommendations for candidates are to be in the top 10% of their class, show leadership ability, and to have demonstrated that they equip the skills necessary for their success in the future. This scholarship will require you to enroll in a 4-year institution in the US. Each year, approximately 300 students are selected to receive this award. The applications close in the early fall and are followed by several phases of selection.

5 Tips to Help You Win Scholarships

The Jack Kent Cooke College Scholarship

This award does not necessarily cover the full cost of college the way QuestBridge does, but it offers a large sum of funding to help cover the majority of it.

This is open to high-achieving high school students in the United States who wish to attend the nation’s top undergraduate universities for a four-year program. The minimum GPA to apply is 3.5 on the 4.0 scale.

Students, similarly to QuestBridge, should have demonstrated financial need. Most students who receive this award also demonstrate community engagement and have worked to provide service to their community. The student can pursue any area of study in their university.

The Foundation selects a little over a hundred students per year on average, but it does vary slightly from year to year. If a student earns this scholarship, they will receive up to $40,000 yearly to help cover their costs of attendance. There are also certain cases in which the amount can be exceeded if there is demonstrated need that has not yet been met by the $40,000 grant, but this is received more rarely.

They also receive an extensive network of support through the Cooke Foundation, which can offer connections throughout their undergraduate education and many scholars, alumni and potential mentoring programs, allowing recipients to thrive in their new undergraduate community. 

College Board Opportunity Scholarships

This scholarship is through the College Board, which many students are familiar with and must use throughout their time in high school for things like AP courses and the SAT. The Opportunity Scholarships are especially great because they require you to complete tasks that you likely would benefit from completing either way, such as practicing for the SAT, completing the FAFSA, and applying to college.

The College Board gives out $40,000 to a group of students who complete all listed tasks on their website. Simply complete the list of objectives and inform the College Board, and you are entered for the chance to win $40,000 to put towards your college expenses. There are also a number of smaller scholarships given out, so if you do not win the big scholarship, there is still a chance you will receive some funding

Anyone within the US or its territories is eligible for these scholarships, but many are reserved for lower-income students. This means there is no minimum GPA or test score, and no lengthy application or essay is required. It may not cover the full cost of your attendance, but it rewards you for accomplishing things that you likely already would have done and gives you a number of chances to win.


These are just a few examples of what is out there. Even if you do not feel that you qualify for these or you just aren’t feeling lucky, there are other options!

Many colleges even offer their own full-tuition scholarships that are available for select students attending the institution. You can review this on an individual basis through the college you are looking into.

Remember: thousands of applicants apply who have been struck by the appeal of a financial worry-free education, and that makes these scholarships extremely competitive and hard to earn. If you were to apply and not win, don’t worry! This does not reflect you as a student or an applicant, and it certainly does not indicate how successful you will be with other scholarships or with college admissions.

No matter what, it is important to know that there are options available for you to look into before giving up on attending your dream university.

Ready to Find Your Niche? Create an Account

9 Easy Ways to Find Scholarships

Author: Heidi Temple

I am a first-generation student at Princeton University. I am currently planning to concentrate in Molecular Biology there. Then, I plan to go to grad school and eventually pursue a career in medical research.