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  • Writer's pictureNancy Adis

Full-Ride Merit Scholarships To College - Yes, A Select Few Are Available For High Achievers!

Attending college is a large budget item and many families look for ways to decrease the total costs. We’ve heard about full-ride scholarships, but are they really out there? Yes! While some scholarships are based on financial need, athletic prowess, or a unique program the college is looking to expand, there are a limited number of merit scholarships which cover 100% of college tuition or possibly all college costs.


These types of honors scholarships are available to students who have excelled academically as well as outside of the classroom in leadership roles, volunteer work, and meaningful activities. Many colleges that offer merit scholarships will do so automatically upon review of the admissions application and then may offer some type of scholarship competition for a select number of applicants who will try to earn the full-ride scholarships.


At Virginia Wesleyan University in Virginia Beach, students who are accepted into the Batten Honors College (BHC) may be invited to the scholarship competition where they participate in hands-on activities and faculty interviews with the chance to be offered a scholarship that pays either a full-tuition or close to a three-quarters tuition benefit annually. Of the approximately 1,500 Virginia Wesleyan undergraduate students, forty will earn these benefits. The college offers over 50 majors, minors, and pre-professional track programs from Criminal Justice to Sports & Recreation, and BHC focuses on environmental stewardship, global-thinking, and leadership in improving the world.  This honors program has its own unique curriculum with interdisciplinary seminars, an honors living learning community, and experiential opportunities through internships and study abroad programs.


At Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, students can apply separately for the Honors College and automatically be considered for their Full-Ride Merit Scholarship. A very small number of individuals (maybe 2 or 3) will earn this top scholarship which includes both tuition and room, board, fees and supplies each year, with an estimated $230,000 value.  This private college serves about 1,600 students (largely and historically, women) and offers NCAA Division III athletics, over 100 student organizations, and a StrongPoints program of personal coaching and advising. They also have a collaborative program with six nearby consortium colleges, so that Meredith students can access even more courses and educational resources.


These are just two examples of programs which do provide the options for a high-achieving student to significantly lower their cost of attendance at college; potentially getting their degree for a very low cost or no cost.


Why do colleges offer these programs? It may be to get more prospective students to learn about and seriously consider the college’s offerings, to increase the number of high achieving students on their campus, and to improve their name recognition, among other reasons. Whether it's a marketing technique or a way to change the campus focus, these are good opportunities for students who are interested in the academic programs offered and who want to earn a college degree at a very reduced price tag.


There are a lot of considerations for students and families looking into college options, and investigating unique offerings can be very helpful.  At Confident College Planning we work to take the stress out of the college selection process by helping clients with a planful approach to researching institutions, writing essays, completing applications, understanding funding options, and successfully transitioning from high school to college.  If you have questions or would like to discuss the support I can provide, please email me at nancy@confidentcollegeplanning.com because I would be happy to help!



Meredith College



Virginia Wesleyan College



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