Full – Ride and full Tuition Scholarship are sometimes used interchangeably over the years. They sounds similar but are different base on the funding of the student. Let’s start with Full-Ride

A Full-ride Scholarship

A full-ride scholarship is an award that covers the entire cost of college—including tuition, room and board, text books, school materials, and sometimes even living costs and study abroad fees. The details can change depending of the scholarship organizing body, but in essence the full-ride covers more than just tuition.

A Full-ride Scholarship can be awarded by the federal government, the colleges themselves, or by a private source (though those are rare). These are highly sought-after, highly competitive awards that are only given out to an incredibly small fraction of students—around 0.1%, in fact.


The difference is in the name: tuition. Full-Tuition scholarships cover the tuition of the college, not necessarily other fees like travel expenses, room and board, various student fees, or other costs. It varies scholarship to scholarship, some might cover other costs besides the tuition, but that is the main focus.

However, since full-tuition is sometimes used interchangeably with full-ride, you may find a full-tuition scholarship covering things like: tuition, room and board, textbooks, laptops, travel expenses, and more.

Like full-rides, full-tuition scholarships can be awarded by the government, colleges, or private sources (again, rare).

In Common

Both full-rides and full-tuition scholarships are extraordinarily hard to get. But if available, they are largely merit-based, students often have high GPAs, class ranks, test scores, or have incredible athletic abilities or leadership qualities that make them highly coveted by schools.

That being said, go ahead and apply—but don’t stake your entire college financial plan on it! If you receive that full-ride / full-tuition, that’s awesome! If not, you should have a backup plan in place.

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