What GPA Do You Need to Get a Full Scholarship?

What's the magic GPA number you need to land a full-ride scholarship?

Shawna Newman

September 11, 2023

What GPA Do You Need to Get a Full Scholarship?
What grade point average (GPA) qualifies you for a full ride scholarship to college?
Who would want to pay for school when you can potentially get a full ride scholarship instead? These highly coveted opportunities can make it possible for a student to have a successful college career who otherwise could not afford to attend. So, naturally, students often want to know the magic number: What grade point average (GPA) qualifies you for a full ride scholarship to college?

What GPA Do You Need to Get a Full Scholarship?

If we could provide that answer, we would. But, unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.
There’s more to scholarships than a good GPA and, even those based on a cumulative GPA aren’t all the same. No magic number exists, but the better your grades are, the more likely you are to meet eligibility criteria. It’s common for scholarship providers to set up grade point average eligibility criteria to narrow the pool of scholarship applicants. There will be a minimum GPA level specified in the scholarship eligibility criteria if that is a factor in the provider’s qualification process.

What is a Good GPA?

While anything over a 3.0 is considered a good GPA, there are metrics by which schools measure students to note academic achievement. Cum Laude, which is Latin for “with praise,” is designated to those who receive a GPA between 3.5 and 3.7 on a 4.0 scale.
Magna cum laude, with great praise, is given to those students with a 3.7 – 3.9 GPA, and Summa cum laude, with highest praise, is for those with a 3.9 GPA or higher. Students looking to earn a full ride scholarship will have a great GPA.

How to Improve your GPA

You may be wondering how to improve your GPA if it’s not to the standard you would like, and although the process takes patience, it is achievable. For starters, select only the classes you need. If there is a subject or level of a subject that you know will push your limits, it may be best to stick with what you know – or work toward that level for the next school year.
You can also work with your school counselor to set goals for yourself, find a tutor or study group, or brainstorm ways to stay more organized and accountable to the work. Don’t neglect utilizing your school counselor to help you excel in all areas of your high school career.

How to Maintain a High GPA

Finally, to maintain your high GPA, simply keep doing what you’re doing. It’s working! If you do find yourself struggling in a class, reach out to your teacher or school counselor for help. They can provide resources or extra guidance to help you stay on track to keep your GPA.

GPA Isn’t Everything, But It Helps

It’s important to note that you don’t need a 4.0 GPA to get scholarships, though it would certainly be beneficial! Scholarships are awarded to all types of students for various reasons. It’s up to a scholarship provider to set the qualification criteria for each scholarship. One of the most common grade point average requirements is a 3.0 average. Again, every scholarship provider is different and it’s up to them to set their eligibility criteria, not us. While some scholarships are based on a student’s GPA, most scholarship aren’t only about a student’s GPA. Rather, providers use grade point averages as a piece of scholarship qualification criteria For example, the details may note, “Students must have a 3.0 GPA or above to apply.”

Types of Scholarships

There are different types of scholarships, which explains why some scholarships may be awarded to a student based on their grades and another may be awarded to a student for an achievement or an entirely different reason all together. Three main types of scholarships include, but are not limited to:

Academic or Merit-based scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are awarded to students based on their student resume, which can include GPA, extracurricular activity participation, clubs, awards, etc.

Need-based scholarships

Need-based scholarships are awarded based on a student’s financial needs.

Race, Ethnicity or Gender scholarships

Race, ethnicity or gender are also common attributes scholarships are awarded for. While these are some common types of scholarships, it’s important to note that scholarships are not only limited to these examples. Scholarships can, and are, awarded for just about anything you can imagine! Check out Fastweb’s Scholarship Directory to learn about more types of scholarships available on Fastweb.

5 Steps to Help You Get on the Path to a Full-Ride Scholarship

  1. Begin your college search early in your high school career.
  2. Set your college goals earlier than senior year. Knowing where you want your path to go after high school graduation would help you adequately plan.

  3. Research and decide which colleges you’d like to apply to.
  4. As you find schools that you're interested in, take note of the type of students they admit. You can view average GPAs, test scores, and class ranks for incoming freshmen classes. This will give you an idea of where you need to be.

  5. Boost your chances – Cast a wide net by applying to five or more colleges.
  6. Make it a point to apply to reach, target, and safety schools. In doing so, you ensure that you get into at least one of your choices.

  7. Keep your grades up - A lot of scholarships require a certain grade point average (GPA) to qualify.
  8. If you've been admitted or have won a scholarship, make sure you maintain your current academic standards. Admissions decisions and scholarship monies can be revoked if students fall behind in class.

  9. Build a robust student resume.
  10. You're more than your GPA or test scores. Get involved in student volunteer and extracurricular activities throughout your high school career to show that you're a well-rounded student.

Common Places to Find Full-Ride Scholarships

• Colleges & Universities
• In-State Programs
• Field of Study/Major-based Programs
• Large Scholarship Programs
• Military Branches
Learn more about places you can find full-ride scholarships.

Not Just GPA: 4 Other Important Things You Can Focus On

Increasing your cumulative GPA quickly is no easy task. There are other areas you can focus on that may make college more affordable for you in the long run:

  1. Develop your leadership skills.
  2. One item that stands out on a scholarship application is leadership. High school students can develop and sharpen their leadership skills by running for office in student council, becoming a tutor, mentoring incoming high school freshmen, and by playing on a sports team.

  3. Serve your local community.
  4. A great leader gives back, and you'll feel so much happier in general if you're involved in your community. Your worthy cause may even get you noticed. It will certainly amplify any college application or scholarship application you submit. Strive to spend time volunteering for at least an hour each week or a couple times each month. While you're volunteering don't forget to network!

  5. Find a mentor.
  6. Connecting with others is always a good idea, especially if he/she has the drive you seek. Find a person or two that inspire you to be a better person and develop that relationship. This person should be able to provide professional, academic and personal feedback. Building rapport with your mentor is important; you can go to this person when you need a strong letter of recommendation.

  7. Apply to the smaller scholarships.
  8. In the perfect world you'd land a full-ride scholarship to your dream college. While this is quite possible, you don't want to find yourself a high school senior that has overlooked applying for the smaller scholarships, with no full-ride scholarship offer. Don't overlook applying for the smaller scholarships. They can add up quickly! Also, they tend to get overlooked so your odds at winning a smaller scholarship are higher than they would be for the huge scholarships. Fastweb will do the work for you by finding scholarships that fit you; all you have to do is create a profile. Make it a goal to apply for one scholarship a week!
Have more scholarship questions? Check out these frequently asked scholarship questions:
How Can I Qualify for a Scholarship?
Can You Use Scholarship Money for Anything?
What are the Requirements for a Scholarship?
Can I Get a Scholarship for Being Hispanic?

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