25 Top Colleges with Full Tuition Scholarships

Receiving a full-tuition scholarship to the university of your choice might be on par with winning the lottery. 

According to recent data, nearly 43 million borrowers have federal student loan debt, with an average balance totaling $37,787! 

A full-tuition scholarship award guarantees that students will graduate either debt-free or with relatively low debt – at least, as long as they abide by the terms of the prize, which vary.

Full-tuition scholarships generally cover eight consecutive semesters of full-time undergraduate enrollment at an accredited college or university. 

Many schools bolster the appeal of their scholarship offerings with additional coverage for room and board, books and supplies, and personal expenses. 

You might be surprised to learn just how much these awards tack on generous stipends for travel, philanthropy, and research pursuits!

Full-tuition scholarships are generally merit-based and sometimes need-based. Merit-based awards are determined using criteria like standardized test scores, class ranks, and grade point averages (GPAs). 

The odds of winning a full-tuition scholarship are generally favorable to the highest-achieving students who demonstrate a passion for learning, leadership potential, and community investment.

Graduating debt-free after soaking in four years of knowledge, usually illuminated by a weeks-long study abroad experience, is a unique and rare opportunity. 

We based our selection of the 25 best colleges with full-tuition scholarships on factors like overall rankings, regional location, and best values from trusted college publications like the U.S. News & World Report. 

Consider applying to one of these captivating scholarship programs if you feel confident that your academic record sets you apart from most of your peers!

Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR)

Lewis & Clark College
Lewis & Clark College – public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

You don’t need to cross a continent to locate this special academic award! The Barbara Hirschi Neely Scholarship is estimated to be worth more than $200,000. 

It supports four years of college tuition for incoming first-year students who qualify as Northwest Oregon or Southwest Washington residents. 

Up to five students admitted to Lewis & Clark are eligible to receive an away, which comes with a $2,000 stipend. 

The stipend’s use is reserved for an academic project launched after the fourth semester at Lewis & Clark. 

Students may spend the money on conducting research, completing an internship, or creating a visual arts project, for example.

Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)

Ohio State University
East of the Mississippi, Front view of the Old Ohio Union, now known as Hale Hall at Ohio State, CC BY-SA 4.0

Eminence Fellows Scholarship winners at OSU receive full tuition and a $3,000 academic enrichment fund. 

Most award-winners are in the top 3% of their graduating high school cohort and score above 34 on the ACT or above 1520 on the SAT.

The Morrill Scholarship Program is equally competitive, offering full-tuition scholarship awards to students with high-level engagement in diversity-focused leadership, social justice endeavors, and community outreach.

The University of Texas (Austin, TX)

UT Austin Waggener Hall
Michael Barera, University of Texas at Austin (Waggener Hall), CC BY-SA 4.0

The sole full-tuition scholarship benefactor on our list hailing from Texas, UT Austin advertises the Forty Acres Scholars Program as one of its flagship initiatives. Currently, 73 Forty Acres Scholars are pursuing diverse majors in 12 of UT’s 13 schools. 

Participants receive full tuition and stipends for living, books, supplies, and enrichment expenses, as well as unique connections with UT alums and faculty members. Forty Acres Scholars regularly engage in community service, team-building, and networking events within and across cohorts.

Villanova University (Villanova, PA)

Three illustrious scholarships are up for grabs at Villanova. The Presidential Scholarship is reasonably straightforward, providing full tuition, room, board, and textbook coverage for eight semesters. 

Potential Presidential Scholars are considered after Villanova receives a nomination by the candidate’s high school principal or guidance counselor.

Equally exciting is an opportunity to earn the St. Martin de Porres Scholarship, reserved for first-year applicants from underrepresented groups at Villanova. 

The Anthony Randazzo Endowed Presidential Scholarship is given explicitly to a first-year Black student with a commendable community service or leadership background in Philadelphia.

The Soka University of America (Aliso Viejo, CA)

Soka University of America
Beyond My Ken, Soka University Founders Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Have you heard of the Soka University of America? 

Founded by the leader of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist movement – Daisaku Ikeda – the school distinguishes itself through its commitment to secularism, pacifism, and human rights work.

The Soka Makiguchi Scholarship for Global Citizens takes care of the entire cost of student attendance, including tuition, room, board, and other associated fees. 

The University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI)

University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Av9, UW Health and UWSMPH, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Mercile J. Lee Scholars Program oversees the distribution of the Chancellor’s scholarship and Powers-Knapp scholarship, two awards created to increase access to historically underrepresented groups at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Participants in either program enjoy unique opportunities for leadership development, mentorship, and community-building. 

Full tuition is taken care of, and students receive a $400 per semester book stipend. What are the expectations for remaining in the program? 

Scholars must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, actively participate in some kind of student organization or team, demonstrate model citizenship, and sustain full-time enrollment.

The University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC)

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Mx. Granger, Carolina Hall at UNC, CC0 1.0

Two of UNC’s prestigious scholarships are recognized nationwide. That’s because the Morehead-Cain Scholarship is the first merit scholarship developed in the history of the United States at the nation’s first public university. 

Designed to mirror the prestige of Oxford University’s Rhodes Scholarship, the Morehead-Cain Scholarship covers four years of tuition, fees, housing, meals, books, and supplies. 

Scholars also benefit from an international gap year, summer enrichment program, study abroad experience, and discovery fund. 

This scholarship packs all the assets of the best universities and presents them to deserving scholars from all over the world on a silver platter.

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program is another impressive option. A partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, just down the road, the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program gives participants a chance to switch institutions in the spring of their sophomore years. 

Robertson Scholars positions students in new environments where they focus on community service projects or career-focused endeavors. Tuition and fees at both universities are covered for eight semesters.

Northeastern University (Boston, MA)

Up to 15 high-achieving first-generation college students join the Torch Scholars Program at Northeastern each year. 

The tuition coverage is exciting enough, including coverage for eight semesters of tuition, room, board, fees, and textbooks. 

On top of that, students participate in an all-expenses-paid Summer Immersion Program. (SIP).

Other program amenities include priority academic advising, invitations to social events, mentoring services, and career preparation. 

Over 500 students across the U.S. compete annually for the 15 available Torch Scholarships. As of today, program participants have contributed over 30,000 hours of community service!

The University of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI)

University of Hawaii Dormitory
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii residents are eligible to apply for the University of Hawaii’s Regents Scholarship, which grants a four-year full tuition waiver, a $4000 annual stipend, and a single-use travel grant of $2,000. 

Up to 20 first-year students with an SAT Superscore of 1340 or higher (or an ACT composite of 29 or higher) and a GPA of 3.5 or above are eligible to apply. 

The University of Hawaii has three campuses at Mānoa in Honolulu, Hilo, and West Oʻahu in Kapolei. Rising high school seniors from all over the Hawaiian islands can apply for the Regents Scholars Program at all three University of Hawaii campuses.

Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)

Two attractive scholarships at Michigan State attract numerous competitive applicants. The top 15 applicants for the Alumni Distinguished Scholarship enjoy eight semesters of covered tuition, fees, room and board, and a $1000 annual stipend. 

Four special designations exist, including the Baldwin Foundation Alumni, James E. Nordberg, Hanna M. Rasmussen Memorial, and Guy G. Speaker Alumni Distinguished Scholarships.

If that’s not appealing enough, the 20 runners-up receive a Distinguished First-Year Scholarship, which accounts for eight semesters of tuition and fees. MSU students transition to exciting positions with companies like IBM, PepsiCo, Peace Corps, and Boeing. 

A totally free college education and promising career aspects – where can we sign up?! Few universities on this list offer as many full-tuition scholarships as Michigan State.

The University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)

University of Virginia
Smash the Iron Cage, Varsity Hall and Cobb Hall, University of Virginia, CC BY-SA 4.0

United States President Thomas Jefferson established the University of Virginia after he retired from public office. Two awards at UVA support the entire cost of attendance for four years of study and invaluable experiential learning opportunities. 

Jefferson Scholars don’t apply – they are nominated. Participating high schools identify the single senior in the graduating class who most embodies excellence in leadership, academics, and citizenship. 

Walentas Scholars are first-generation college students with a passion for serving their communities. 

Both UVA full-tuition scholarships are not available for just any exceptional senior. Only those from the following areas may nominate candidates: Virginia Commonwealth; the five boroughs of NYC: Rochester, NY; Baltimore, MD; and St. Louis, MO.

Syracuse University (Syracuse, NY)

Syracuse University
DASonnenfeld, Hall-of-Languages-Syracuse-Univ, CC BY-SA 4.0

It’s double the full-tuition scholarship fun at Syracuse – let’s start with the competitive Coronat Scholars Program, a full-tuition scholarship granting study abroad funding and dedicated funding for research or volunteer pursuits. 

Coronat Scholars are simultaneously admitted to the Renée Crown University Honors program. No applications for this special opportunity – students are identified based on their application quality.

Haudenosaunee Promise Scholarships are awarded exclusively to qualifying first-year and transfer Haudenosaunee students. Annual recipients receive support in covering all tuition, housing, meals, and mandatory fees for each year of full-time undergraduate enrollment. 

Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA)

Boston College
BCLicious, Burns Library Boston College, CC BY-SA 4.0

This opportunity is for early-action applicants! The Gabelli Presidential Scholars Program is a merit-based, full-tuition scholarship awarded to 18 impressive first-year students. 

Founded on the tenets of global leadership, promoting the common good, hospitality, and fidelity to its partners, the GPSP engages its participants in meeting weekly to discuss current events, prepare for their careers, collaborate on passion projects, or attend a program-specific cultural event.

Gabelli Scholars additionally engage in sequential summer programs. 

After their first year, they navigate Boston-centric social issues like homelessness and education access while sophomores engage in an immersive language learning experience. 

Juniors take on internships, gaining invaluable skills transferable to their future careers.

College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, VA)

College of William and Mary
Ser Amantio di Nicolao, Camm and Dawson Halls, William and Mary, CC BY-SA 4.0

You have likely heard of the Stamps Scholarship. Many fine schools not on this list – some even listed on the top 25 ranking of the best colleges in the United States – award Stamps Scholarships as their sole full-tuition scholarship option.

The College of William & Mary currently enrolls 12 Stamps 1693 Scholars who receive full tuition, fees, and room and board coverage, in addition to $5,000 awarded for later use on an independent research, travel, or community service project. 

Throughout the semester, 1693 Scholars meet with industry professionals, humanitarians, government leaders, and faculty members to map their futures and learn about exciting new subjects.

Another opportunity – the William & Mary Scholars Award – honors a limited group of accomplished students from historically underrepresented backgrounds. 

W&M Scholars are invited to participate in WMSURE during their first year at the college, the benefits of which include funding connections for projects, graduate school application assistance, weekly workshops, and mentoring relationships.

Emory University (Atlanta, GA)

The Goizueta Scholars Award sustains four years of undergraduate tuition and study-abroad experiences. 

Applicants should be able to demonstrate a successful record of entrepreneurial engagement, internship participation, and business club membership, as well as an overall passion for business.

Robert W. Woodruff Scholars earn full tuition and fee coverage in addition to room and board. The program is reserved for high school seniors who convey impeccable integrity and character and a desire to contribute to the Emory community.

The University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)

The University of Pittsburgh offers more distinct full-tuition scholarship awards than any other university or college on this list, including the Stamps Scholarship, which we mentioned previously. 

Pittsburgh’s five Stamps recipients reside in Pennsylvania and gain access to $17,400 in academic/career enrichment funds.

The coveted Chancellor’s Scholarship guarantees Frederick Honors College housing and full tuition coverage to its first-year student recipients admitted to the Honor College. 

Also reserved for Pennsylvania residents is the Nordenberg Leadership Scholars Program, which selects five graduating seniors to receive full tuition coverage for all four years, as well as help securing an internship in their later undergraduate years.

Last but hardly least, Cathedral of Learning Scholars selection committee members take class rank and standardized test scores into account to award a select group of diverse students with $5,000 to total tuition coverage.

Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles, CA)

Moving on to a special full-tuition scholarship on the West Coast: the Arrupe Scholarship. The Arrupe Scholarship program is exclusively for international applicants. 

Named after Fr. Pedro Arrupe, an enduring Jesuit leader, the award grants between $12,500 and full tuition coverage annually. Winners can renew their scholarships for up to four years.

Loyola Marymount is founded on Jesuit principles, which prioritize both faith and reason. The Arrupe Scholars are required to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above throughout all eight semesters of enrollment at Loyola Marymount.

Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO)

Washington University in St. Louis
Doc2129, WashU Bryan Hall, CC BY-SA 4.0

Scholarship options abound at Washington University in St. Louis. The John B. Ervin Scholars Program awards full tuition and an annual stipend of $2,500, which comes with no spending limitations. 

Winners are selected following an interview process and gain access to exclusive orientation sessions, community outreach connections, and service opportunities.

The Annika Rodriguez and Danforth Scholars Programs award similar prizes as the John B. Ervin Scholars Program and have the same application requirements.

Candidates write a short essay detailing what matters to them (for the Danforth scholarship) or, for the Annika Rodriguez scholarship, describing a high school or community-based experience in which they took the lead and what they learned in the process.

Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC)

Another Stamps Scholarship distributor, Wake Forest’s version of the reputable award grants enrichment funds of up to $15,000 per student. 

Five students earn this distinction annually. Finalists are announced in the interview process, and they get the chance to attend on-campus interviews before the final selection. 

Nancy Susan Reynolds is the namesake of another full-tuition scholarship offered by Wake Forest. Based mainly on GPAs and standardized test scores, Reynolds Scholars receive free room and board and $3,400 for personal expenses. 

They can apply for up to $5,000 in research or travel funding during one of the summers they enroll at Wake Forest.

Boston University (Boston, MA)

Boston University
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The Trustee Scholarship at Boston University awards full-tuition scholarships and more to nearly 20 exemplary students who have achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA and are ranked #1 in their graduating senior class. 

This is undoubtedly one of the most competitive scholarships on this list of the best full-tuition scholarships in the United States. 

Becoming the valedictorian of one’s senior class often means achieving a higher GPA than hundreds – at times, thousands – of peers.

The reward is certainly worth the investment. Trustee Scholars apply by answering one of two prompts in under 600 words via the Common Application. 

A recent prompt compelled students to describe a recent response to feeling out of their comfort zone and what they learned from the experience. 

Another asked students to elaborate on an in-person or media-based experience which helped them deepen their connection with their identities. 

The University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)

University of Southern California
EEJCC, Gwynn Wilson Student Union, University of Southern California, CC BY-SA 4.0

USC’s full-tuition scholarships add weight to the West Coast’s claim as the best coast, especially if the quality is partly determined by educational access! 

Unsurprisingly, there’s a Stamps Scholarship granting full tuition and $20,000 in cumulative enrichment funds. 

Competitive, as usual, the Stamps Scholarship selection process favors students ranging in the top two percent of SAT and ACT test-takers annually.

Like Boston University, USC offers its own Trustee Scholarship

Winners come from a similar demographic of academic achievement, and the best part is that almost 100 students will earn a full tuition Trustee Scholarship each year! International applicants may pursue this opportunity, as well. 

The Mork Family Scholarships go out to ten high-achieving students, who receive a full tuition coverage guarantee and a $5,000 stipend.

Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)

Tulane University Newcomb Hall
Whatevergb, Newcomb Hall Tulane University, CC BY-SA 4.0

As if the Crescent City doesn’t offer enough allure to a wanderlusting college hopeful, Tulane University advertises three full-tuition scholarship awards. 

The Paul Tulane Award goes out to as many as 50 dynamic students who generally score over 31 on the ACT and 1400 or higher on the SAT. It is reserved for early action or early decision I applicants only. 

The Deans’ Honor Scholarship is another early action/decision I scholarship opportunity for applicants with similar standardized test scores to Tulane Award recipients. 

Tulane’s Stamps Scholarship winners are nominated from applicants within the pools of the aforementioned scholarship awards and given to five deserving students.

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)

Two scholarship options entice top scholars to attend school in Music City. 

The Ingram Scholarship Program awards full-tuition scholarships and stipends dedicated to student summer projects. 

Recipients are chosen based on their demonstrated investment in community service, character caliber, and leadership potential. 

Scholars create and launch meaningful service projects within the Nashville community and can expect to devote nearly 20 hours per month toward their endeavors.

The Cornelius Vanderbilt Scholarship is named in honor of the university’s founder, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, who bestowed a one million dollar endowment to the university in 1873. 

Winners earn full tuition and a single-use summer stipend for an interactive learning journey in the summer following their sophomore or junior years. Scholarships renew as long as the recipient maintains a 3.0 GPA or higher.

The University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)

One of two New York universities with full-tuition scholarships, the University of Rochester holds the Alan and Jane Handler Endowed Scholarship in high esteem. 

Scholarship winners have demonstrated their academic excellence, leadership potential, and financial need. 

This particular scholarship is the most significant gift in the history of the University of Rochester and pledges an ultimate investment of $25 million to support the best need-based applicants.

In addition to providing full tuition for all four years of scholarship, Handler Scholars receive personalized mentoring opportunities, access to an exclusive alumni network, and a $5,000 stipend dedicated to their academic or professional development.

Oberlin College (Oberlin, OH)

Oberlin College is the sole conservatory on this list of universities offering full-tuition scholarships. 

A conservatory is a college dedicated to teaching performance in various instruments and music theory, composition, and conducting. 

Many conservatories also offer voice programs. Oberlin, in particular, is the oldest co-ed liberal arts college in the nation, and the Conservatory of Music itself is the oldest enduring conservatory in the U.S.

The Conservatory Dean’s Awards are granted to incoming conservatory scholars based on the needs of the school’s ensembles and the candidate’s audition scores. 

What’s so impressive about Oberlin is that they recently awarded 100% of admitted conservatory students merit scholarships.