How to Win a Full Scholarship to Your Dream University


A full scholarship is an opportunity that provides comprehensive financial support to individuals from different countries to pursue their education domestically and abroad. This scholarship covers various aspects, including tuition fees, accommodations, textbooks, and sometimes additional living expenses. Sometimes, a scholarship comes in a one-time check. Other renewable scholarships provide students with money each semester or school year. It is a highly sought-after award that enables talented and deserving students to access quality education and opens doors to a promising future. In this article, Fulbright University Vietnam will provide a comprehensive definition of full-ride scholarships and strategies for securing one.

How is a full-ride scholarship different from a full-tuition scholarship?

A scholarship is an amount of financial support a specific organization grants individuals to pursue higher education. Generally, candidates must meet various criteria to qualify for scholarships, such as academic excellence, commitment to diversity and inclusion, athletic prowess, research accomplishments, or relevant professional experience. The fundamental goal of scholarships is to reduce the financial barriers associated with higher education, thereby making it more attainable for meritorious students. 

A full scholarship (a full-ride scholarship) is a financial award for students. It covers the entire cost of attending college or university, including tuition, academic materials such as textbooks, mandatory fees (health fee, student service fee, technology fee, etc.), room and board, and other expenses. In other words, securing a full-ride scholarship means you nearly will not have to pay anything for your education.

A full scholarship’s overarching aim is to eliminate the necessity for supplementary financial assistance, allowing recipients to concentrate on their academic progress and personal growth, free from economic restraints.

A full scholarship is one of the most sought-after financial awards from colleges and universities

A full scholarship is one of the most sought-after financial awards from colleges and universities (Source: Essay Service)

The terms “full-ride” and “full-tuition” scholarships might sound similar, but a significant difference impacts your college finances. A full-ride scholarship covers the entire cost of college. One key thing to understand about full-ride scholarships is that they do not only cover the cost of tuition. They cover all other expenses associated with attending college or university. This can include room and board, textbooks and supplies, transportation costs, etc. In contrast, a full-tuition scholarship only covers the cost of attendance, and no extra fees during the study will be included. Understanding this difference can help you target scholarships that best address your financial needs for college.

Types of full scholarships

Scholarships come from various sources, including clubs, organizations, charities, foundations, businesses, colleges and universities, governments, and individuals.  Understanding these categories is the first step towards pursuing a scholarship that aligns with your aspirations and accomplishments.

Merit-based scholarship

Merit-based scholarships testify to the student’s hard work and high achievements. These scholarships serve as a recognition of a student’s academic prowess, leadership qualities, involvement in extracurricular activities, and other significant achievements. The competition for merit-based scholarships is intense, reflecting the high caliber of applicants with impressive academic records and a portfolio of noteworthy accomplishments. The sources of merit-based scholarships are diverse, encompassing educational institutions such as colleges and universities or private entities, corporations, and government bodies.

Need-based scholarship

Need-based scholarships are designed to bridge the financial gap for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes individuals who come from a family with an annual income below established low-income thresholds and were or are currently homeless in the foster care system.

These awards help more students facing monetary barriers access quality education. The scholarship amounts are tailored to the individual’s financial circumstances, ensuring education is within reach for all deserving students, regardless of their economic standing. 

Need-based scholarships are designed to make quality education accessible to students.

Need-based scholarships are designed to make quality education accessible to students. (Source: Paragoneducation)

Government scholarship

Government scholarships are financial aid programs funded by a government entity and typically awarded to students based on exceptional academic merit,  disadvantaged backgrounds, or other criteria. They cover full tuition, books, and sometimes living expenses. Depending on the government’s policy, recipients can use these scholarships at domestic or international universities. This opportunity allows students to access high-quality education without financial burden. 

Leadership scholarship

Leadership scholarships are given to students with a proven commitment to their school, community, or extracurricular activities. These scholarships reward student leaders who have served as heads of clubs, student bodies, and more.  When applying for leadership scholarships, showcasing your unique qualities and experiences is essential. You can highlight any leadership roles you’ve held in school or the community, such as team captain or organizing events. Leadership scholarships are also known as Global Leadership Scholarships or Leadership Scholarship Programs.

Fulbright University Vietnam is an international quality university following the American liberal arts model, where students study with PhDs from the world’s leading universities and are supported by a strong network. All aimed at unleashing each student’s maximum potential, helping each individual become a brave, flexible leader and ready to lead the future of Vietnam and the world. Fulbright is always open to individuals who demonstrate academic depth and breadth, along with one of the following characteristics:

  • Intellectual curiosity: open-minded and willing to listen to new ideas and diverse perspectives; welcoming rigorous arguments and compelling evidence.
  • Pioneering spirit: eager to seek new challenges; creatively solve problems; and unafraid to learn from mistakes.
  • Care for others: respectful of diversity; be honest, responsible, emotionally mature, and motivated to create a better community.

At Fulbright, learners are empowered to explore themselves deeply and equipped with critical thinking, interdisciplinary thinking, and lifelong learning abilities. The first year at Fulbright begins with the Core Curriculum, consisting of five essential courses. The program is designed to create an equal learning environment for students from all starting points, helping them discover their potential and overcome knowledge limitations. The challenges in the foundation program will be the beginning of the journey to develop the ability to think critically, apply specialized knowledge, and solve problems effectively. Students will also integrate Discovery and Elective subjects to expand in various fields.

At the end of year 2, students officially choose the major they want to pursue among the 11 majors Fulbright teaches. In particular, Fulbright students can choose to study a double major to combine interests in different fields. Under the guidance of experienced lecturers with PhDs from leading universities worldwide, you will build a unique study program to explore the field of your interest thoroughly. You will graduate with two bachelor’s degrees simultaneously, one major and one minor.

Every year, Fulbright will open admission applications in two semesters: spring from January to April and fall from September to December. Besides the basic requirement of a high school diploma, candidates need to submit a minimum English certificate of IELTS 6.0 (or TOEFL iBT 75 or Duolingo English Test 95), or equivalent, except in the following cases:

  • The candidate is a native English speaker.
  • Applicants have attended a high school program entirely in English continuously for two years before enrolling at Fulbright.
  • Candidates who won third prize (or higher) in English in the Provincial High School Excellent Student Competition (or city level in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Da Nang, Can Tho, and Hai Phong) or regional level at the high school level.
  • The candidate is selected to be part of the team participating in the National Excellent High School Student Competition of the province/city in English.

Candidates may learn about how to apply to Fulbright at: https://fulbright.edu.vn/vi/apply-to-us/

Field of study scholarship

Numerous organizations provide scholarships targeting students dedicated to specialized fields like STEM, business, technology, or healthcare. Industry leaders and professional bodies often offer these scholarships to support those with a solid academic foundation in their respective disciplines, fostering expertise and innovation. 

Field of Study Scholarship contribute to fostering expertise and innovation within the field

Field of Study Scholarship contribute to fostering expertises and innovation within the field. (Source: Vecteezy.com)

Athletic scholarship

An athletic scholarship is awarded to students with exceptional skills in a sport. Often, this is so that the student can attend school or college and play the sport on their team. However, in some countries, government-funded sports scholarships are available, allowing scholarship holders to train for international representation. Full-ride scholarships are primarily awarded for football, basketball, gymnastics, tennis, or volleyball. 

Ethnicity-based scholarship

Multiple scholarship programs are designed specifically for students of a particular ethnic group. These scholarships aim to support and encourage educational opportunities for students from these communities, often to promote diversity or assist groups that may be underrepresented or disadvantaged in higher education. Some examples of these scholarships include the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the United Negro College Fund, and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, which provide vital financial aid, fostering equal educational opportunities.

Criteria for scholarship consideration

In many cases, a full scholarship considers academic excellence as a primary criterion for selection. Candidates are evaluated based on their previous educational achievements, such as test scores, grades, and research experience. However, many scholarships also consider non-academic attributes such as leadership potential, extracurricular participation, community service, and personal qualities.

Receiving a full scholarship brings a multitude of benefits beyond financial support. Scholars can study at renowned educational institutions known for their academic excellence and innovative research. They gain exposure to cutting-edge knowledge, state-of-the-art facilities, and experienced faculty members who can mentor and guide them in their chosen field of study.

Tips to win a full scholarship

Full scholarships are highly competitive, but the effort to pursue one can be rewarding. To enhance your prospects, refer to the following strategies that bolster your application and set you apart from other candidates:

Focus on academic performance

Academic prowess is critical to enhancing your chances of winning a full-ride scholarship. While there’s no universal GPA requirement, a stellar academic record can distinguish you as an exceptional candidate. Top-tier colleges frequently offer full-ride scholarships to students with outstanding academic achievements to encourage admission. Therefore, prospective students should concentrate on achieving and maintaining high grades and an above-average GPA before completing a scholarship hunt. 

Write a highly personal, engaging essay

One of the most essential parts of a scholarship application is the personal statement or essay. Almost all scholarship applications require at least one essay, similar to your college applications. This is where you can exhibit your unique qualities and explain why you deserve the scholarship. Use your essay to showcase who you are, what your interests and passions are, and what sets you apart from other applicants. 

  • Make your essay a reflection of you: Don’t make the mistake of overcomplicating your reflective thoughts where you contemplate and explain the logic of how you would answer the prompt. Instead, respond to the prompt by drawing on your own experiences and achievements.
  • Tell a story: Take your reader on the journey you share from beginning to end. Usually, this means walking the reader through your accomplishments in context, describing how they happened and what they meant to you. Don’t just list out what you did.

Start early and stay well-prepared

Applying for scholarships takes time, so start your search early. If you’re still in high school, searching for scholarships during your junior year may be ideal because you could start earlier. You can search for full-ride scholarships on search engines such as: 

  • Scholarship Search from Career OneStop
  • Scholarships.com
  • Unigo
  • Fast web
  • Scholarship Finder from CareerOneStop

You can also talk to your high school counselor about scholarship prospects or call the financial aid office at each institution on your list. Check with local foundations, businesses, community organizations, parents’ employers, and the state’s education department for more information on options. 

Attend scholarship workshops and information sessions

Many institutions provide workshops or information sessions to assist students with the scholarship application process. You can use these resources to learn about different scholarships, how to write robust applications, and what selection committees look for in candidates.

Select the type of scholarship that suits the applicant’s motivation

When aiming for a full scholarship, choosing one that resonates with your motivations and career goals is crucial. Scholarships are not one-size-fits-all; they come in various forms, each with unique requirements and benefits. Some prioritize academic excellence, while others may focus on community service, leadership potential, or specific talents.

Selecting scholarships that align with your motivations and preparing a robust application can increase your chances of securing a full scholarship. Not only does it support your education, but it also propels you towards your long-term aspirations.

Become the more outstanding candidate

In the competitive arena of scholarship applications, make sure to stand out. You should engage in extracurriculars showcasing your passions and community contributions while demonstrating a commitment to personal growth. Leadership is highly prized; spearheading volunteer or group initiatives demonstrates it. To enhance your application, you can build robust relationships with mentors. This will enable you to secure persuasive letters of recommendation that showcase your scholarly commitment and personal qualities, thereby enriching the overall impression of your application. 

Submit required documents carefully

Securing a full scholarship demands meticulous attention to detail, particularly when submitting the required documents. Ensure that every transcript, reference, and form is error-free and complete. Precision in your application demonstrates a deep respect for the scholarship process. This careful presentation sets you apart in a sea of applicants.

Keep applying 

Persistence is one of the most critical factors when aiming for a full scholarship. With the competitive nature of these awards, it’s essential to apply as many as possible. Each application increases your chances of success. Start early, stay organized, and don’t be discouraged by rejections. Keep refining your applications, and maintain a positive outlook throughout the process.

Financial Aid and Scholarship opportunities for prospective students at Fulbright University Vietnam

Fulbright University Vietnam is Vietnam’s first independent, not-for-profit, liberal arts university. Founded on Vietnamese-American partnership, the Fulbright model is based on American traditions of rigorous liberal arts education and is firmly rooted in Vietnam’s culture and heritage. With a student-centered orientation, Fulbright sets the goal of helping students achieve their full potential to become fearless individuals ready to lead the future of Vietnam and the world.

Fulbright offers need-based Financial Aid programs as the university believes every student deserves to access education, regardless of family background or social status. This grant does not require repayment and is based solely on the financial circumstances of the applicant’s family. Fulbright has six ranges of financial aid: 30%, 50%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100%. The maximum financial aid package can be up to 100% of tuition for four years of study, including housing fees and living expenses. Tuition fees for bachelor’s programs are updated annually; further detailed information can be found on the school’s website. 

The university offers a diverse and abundant array of scholarships, totaling 75 in number. Detailed information about all scholarships at Fulbright University Vietnam can be found here. Some popular scholarships are as follows:

  • Fulbright President’s Scholarship covers 80% or 100% of Fulbright’s annual tuition fee and is renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study at Fulbright. 
  • Fulbright Dean’s Scholarship covers 30% to 50% of the tuition fee and is renewable for up to four years.
  • Honors Scholarship is a one-time award of 187,040,000 VND, deducted from the first year’s tuition fee for undergraduates studying at Fulbright.

These scholarships recognize students with academic excellence and a commitment to their communities. To be considered, applicants must undergo a competitive selection process that includes admissions materials, scholarship applications, and interviews. 

Prospective students are encouraged to apply for scholarships as part of their admissions process. Fulbright’s transparent and holistic review ensures that each application is considered thoroughly, aiming to recognize and nurture outstanding talent.

TP Bank awards scholarships for students majoring in STEM at Fulbright University Vietnam.

TP Bank awards scholarships for students majoring in STEM at Fulbright University Vietnam. (Source: Fulbright)

In conclusion, a full scholarship offers financial relief and the freedom to pursue academic and personal aspirations without constraint. For aspiring students, it represents a pathway to success, enabling them to focus on their studies and prepare for a future of innovation.

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Khoảnh khắc bạn đối mặt với nỗi sợ và dũng cảm hành động, đó là lúc bạn đã khai phóng bản thân. Đã có nhiều đêm bạn mất ngủ, đã có nhiều phút giây bạn nản chí. Nhưng, bạn đã không bỏ cuộc. Các bạn đã luôn kiên cường vượt qua những thử thách, những khó khăn trên chặng đường bốn năm vừa qua. Fulbright tự hào về các bạn. Hẹn gặp các bạn tại Commencement Day 8/6/2024, ngày chúng tôi tự hào giới thiệu với thế giới: Khóa 2024 – Class of the Fearless của Đại học Fulbright Việt Nam.

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