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Guaranteed Scholarships Based on SAT/ACT Scores

Posted by Halle Edwards | Mar 5, 2015 11:51:00 PM

SAT/ACT Score Target, College Admissions



There is tons of scholarship cash waiting for you if you know where to look.

Maybe you’ve taken the SAT or ACT and have gotten a really good score, but aren't sure how to get the most money out of it. Or maybe you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT yet but are wondering how important the tests really are. One way you can make the most of your score is by finding guaranteed SAT scholarships or guaranteed ACT scholarships.

In this post, we will show you some of the scholarships for high SAT scores and scholarships for high ACT scores that you can get. You can earn thousands of dollars in scholarships based just on your scores. Curious to see how? We'll show you where you can get scholarships based on ACT scores and scholarships based on SAT scores.


Scholarships for ACT Scores and Scholarships for SAT Scores

This post focuses on scholarships offered by colleges and universities themselves. Why? Many private scholarships – while lucrative! – feature full, college-admission-like applications, including letters of recommendation and essays. Lots of other smaller scholarships are based on essays, personal circumstances, or even your parent's employer.

While we are not discouraging you from applying to these, this post will focus on scholarships any student can earn automatically from universities just based on their test scores and GPA or class rank.

We will highlight some of the most searched-for universities and best opportunities, but this is not a comprehensive list.  We will also show you how to look up this information for any college you’re interested in.


Automatic Scholarships for National Merit

Before we get into the scholarship list, we will also highlight another source of money based mainly on test scores: National Merit.

As we have covered in past posts, the National Merit competition recognizes the top PSAT (Practice SAT) scorers in each state. While there is a $2,500 scholarship you can earn through the competition itself, you can also get big scholarships from colleges by listing them as your first choice through National Merit.

You can get anything from a small scholarship to a full ride, depending on the school. As a rough rule of thumb, public universities are more likely to give more money for National Merit, though there are exceptions.

For example, you can get a full ride scholarship at the University of Idaho and the University of Oklahoma (view details for residents and non-residents here).

At Claremont McKenna, a private college, you can get between $1,000 and $2,000 for National Merit.  However, at Baylor, another private college, you can get more than $40,000, if you're a National Merit Finalist and select Baylor as your first-choice college. The exact amount is based on your other test scores:

SAT Score (M + CR) ACT Score Amount per year
1500 + 36 $41,996 
1400-1490 33-35 $40,996
1300-1390 30-32 $39,996 
Below 1300 29 and below $37,996 


You can read more about this opportunity at Baylor's website.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg of National Merit scholarships. To learn more about sponsoring universities, read here.


Automatic Scholarships

Now we will highlight colleges that give automatic scholarships based on SAT/ACT scores, as well as qualifiers like GPA or class rank. For these scholarships, you don’t have to submit any extra application information, but in some cases, you have to apply by a certain deadline to be guaranteed the scholarship. Be sure to check out each college's website, which we will link to, for full info.

As a shortcut, here are the schools we're going to detail:

  • Baylor University
  • Clemson University
  • Colorado State University
  • Florida A&M
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Georgia State
  • Louisiana State University
  • Texas Tech
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nevada at Las Vegas
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • Utah State University


Baylor University

In addition to the National Merit award highlighted above, Baylor University also offers scholarships based on SAT/ACT score and class rank.

Scholarship Amount per year
President’s Gold Scholarship $10,500 – 20,000
Provost’s Gold Scholarship $8,500 – 14,000
Dean’s Gold Scholarship $5,000 – $12,000


Baylor does not have set cut-offs for these award tiers but bases the awards on SAT/ACT score and class rank. They do have a scholarship estimator you can use to predict your award amount.

As an example, based on the estimator, a 36 ACT with a high class rank (5/500) gets you a President’s Gold scholarship of $20,000. A 34 with the same rank also gets you $20,000, a 32 gets you $17,000, and a 28 gets you $14,500. While these are all high amounts, note that increasing your ACT from 28 to 32 gets you $2,500 more dollars each year, or increasing from 32 to 36 can get you $3,000 more dollars — $12,000 over your whole college career.

Or to take another example, if your class rank is 250/500 and you have a 24 ACT, you don’t qualify for a scholarship. But if you have that same rank but a 28 ACT, you can get a Dean’s Gold Scholarship of $11,000 per year. In other words, a 4-point ACT increase, which is definitely possible with some smart studying, can earn you $44,000. That’s amazing!

Check out Baylor’s scholarship page for more information and to try the scholarship estimator for yourself.


Clemson University

At Clemson, South Carolina residents will receive the Trustee Scholarship of $1,000 if they are ranked in the top 10% of their high school class and also have at least a 1200 SAT (Math + Critical Reading) or 27 ACT.

Non-residents with at least a 1250 SAT (M+CR) or 28 ACT and ranked in the top 10% of their class will receive a renewable scholarship of at least $7,500. The scholarship page notes “Students with higher test scores will be considered for these merit scholarships up to $15,000 annually.” So although they don’t have hard numbers, you can double your scholarship if you have higher scores.

Read more on Clemson's scholarships over at their website.


Colorado State University

Colorado State has automatic scholarships based on GPA and SAT/ACT score. Refer to the tables below from their website to see how much you can earn:



Note that score increases net you more money: to take just one example, going up 3 ACT points or 1220 to 1300 SAT can get you $4,000 more dollars!



Learn more about scholarships at CSU for residents and non-residents at their website.


Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

FAMU sets their bar for their distinguished scholarship for Florida Residents you need at least a 1800 SAT (M+CR+W) or 27 on the ACT and an academic core GPA of 3.5. According to their website,  these qualifying Florida residents "receive a full four-year scholarship that pays for tuition and fees, double occupancy room rate, and meals,” for a value of $65,419 over four years. For Out-Of-State Students, you need at least a 1900 SAT (M+CR+W) or 29 on the ACT and an academic core GPA of 3.5. These qualifying Out-of–State Students receive a four-year scholarship that pays for tuition and fees, double occupancy room rate, and meals. Additionally, students majoring in STEM will receive a laptop. This results in $114,376 over four years.

If you don’t reach the cut off for the Distinguished Scholarship, you can still earn the George W. Gore Assistantship Scholarship. According to the website, “Incoming freshmen who have at least 1650 on the SAT or 23 on the ACT and a minimum high school academic core GPA of 3.0” qualify for the award.” The amount changes based on your ACT and SAT score:

Test Score Requirements Amount Per Year
ACT 23 or SAT 1650-1679 $2,000
ACT 24 or SAT 1680-1724 $3,000
ACT 25 or SAT 1725-1754 $4,000
ACT 26 or SAT 1755-1784 $5,000
ACT 1785 and up $6,000


So if you have at least a 3.0, each 1-point ACT increase gets you $1,000 more dollars, and an SAT increase of just 10 points could also bump you up. Read more about scholarships on FAMU’s admission website.


Florida Gulf Coast University

FGCU has scholarships based on GPA and SAT/ACT score, but you have to apply by November 15th and be admitted by February 15th to be considered.

President’s Gold Florida Resident $5,000 per year 3.9 + GPA, 1320+ SAT, 28+ ACT
President’s Silver Florida Resident $3,000 per year 3.5 – 3.89 GPA, 1220 SAT+, 25 ACT +
Blue and Green Scholars Award Non-Florida Resident $15,000 per year 3.9 + GPA, 1320+ SAT, 28+ ACT
Blue and Green Directors Award Non-Florida Resident $10,000 per year 3.5 – 3.89 GPA, 1220 SAT+, 25 ACT +


Learn more about scholarships and the application process at FGCU's website.


Georgia State University

Georgia State calculates automatic scholarships based on GPA and SAT/ACT score. Check out the levels in the table below:

Scholarship Freshman Index SAT ACT HS GPA Amount
Second Century >=3150 1250 28 >3.5 $3000 renewable
1913 Founders >=3100 1200 27 >=3.5 $2000 renewable
GSU Excellence >=3000 1200 27 >=3.5 $1000 renewable
GSU Achievement >=3000 1150 25 >=3.5 $1000 One time
GSU Foundation >=2800 1200 27 >=3.5 $500 One Time


Note that the Freshman Index is also calculated based on your ACT/SAT and GPA. It’s used for admission to all University System of Georgia colleges. Learn more, including how to calculate your index, here.

 You have to apply by March 1st to be considered for these awards.


Louisiana State University

LSU has three scholarships based on GPA and test scores you are considered for automatically. View the amounts in the table below:

Scholarship Name SAT Minimum ACT Minimum GPA Minimum Award: In-State Award: Out-of-State
Flagship Scholars 1440 33 3 $2,500 per year + $1,550 per year to earn through Student Aide program $20,500 per year + $1,550 per year through Student Aide Program
LSU Academic Scholars Award 1330 30 3 $2,000 per year + $1,550 per year to earn through Student Aide program $15,500 per year + $1,550 per year to earn through Student Aide program
Tiger Excellence Scholars Award 1250 28 3 $1,500 per year $7,600


You can learn more about LSU's other scholarships, as well as the three listed here, over at their scholarships page


Texas Tech University

These scholarships are automatic and are guaranteed if you apply by February 1st and are admitted to Texas Tech by April 15th.

SAT ACT Class Rank Award Per Year
1400 32 Top 10% $6,000
1300 29 Top 10% $4,000
1250 28 Top 10% $3,500
1200 27 Top 10% $3,000
1500 34 Top 11-25% $5,000
1400 32 Top 11-25% $4,000
1300 29 Top 11-25% $3,500
1200 27 Top 11-25% $3,000


Note that one-point ACT increases and 50-point SAT increases can increase your scholarship by $500 per year. Read more about the scholarships at the TTU website.


University of Arizona

The University of Arizona admissions website notes, “Incoming Fall 2015 Freshmen who meet the following minimum unweighted, 6th semester high school grade point average and CR & M SAT or ACT test scores automatically qualify for the awards listed below, with the potential to receive higher merit offers. All incoming freshman applicants are evaluated for UA merit scholarships.”

The award amounts are different for out-of-state versus in-state applicants. See the full details below:

In-State or Out-of-State GPA SAT (CR+M)/ACT Award Amount (Yearly)
Out-of-state 3.25 1300 SAT/29 ACT $13,000
Out-of-state 3.25 1220 SAT/27 ACT $10,000
Out-of-state 3.25 1110 SAT/24 ACT $8,000
In-state 3.25 1300 SAT/29 ACT $8,000
In-state 3.25 1220 SAT/27 ACT $6,000
In-state 3.25 1110 SAT/24 ACT $2,000


Learn more about scholarships at University of Arizona at their website.


University of Mississippi

At the University of Mississippi, you can earn an Academic Excellence scholarship based on your GPA and SAT/ACT score. Their admissions website notes that “Entering freshmen, minimum 3.0 high-school GPA, a minimum 24 ACT (1090 SAT) … are eligible for the Academic Excellence Scholarship.” You are automatically considered after being admitted to the University of Mississippi.

ACT SAT High School GPA Mississippi Resident Award Non-Resident Award
24 1090-1120 3.0+ $1,000 $1,000
25 1130-1160 3.0+ $1,500 $1,500
26 1170-1200 3.0+ $1,900 $1,900 + $2,000 towards non-resident fee
27 1210-1240 3.0+ $2,250 $2,250 + $3,000 towards non-resident fee
28 1250-1280 3.0+ $3,000 $3,000 + $4,000 towards non-resident fee
29 1290-1320 3.0+ $3,500 $3,500 + $5,000 towards non-resident fee
30 1330-1350 3.0+ $4,500 $4,500 + $6,000 towards non-resident fee
31 1360-1390 3.0+ $5,500 $5,500 + $7000 towards non-resident fee
32 1400-1430 3.0+ $7,500 $7,500 + $14,268 towards non-resident fee
33+ 1440+ 3.0+ $7,644 $7,644+$14,268 towards non-resident fee


Note that the GPA requirement does not increase over the table, only scores. An ACT increase of one point or SAT increase of just 10 points can get you over $1,000 more per year, and that’s not including the non-resident fee that also gets decreased.

See more at the University of Mississippi's scholarships page.


University of Missouri

The University of Missouri has a handful of scholarships that are automatic, based on class rank and SAT/ACT score.


Chancellor’s Award

Earned with an ACT of 31 or higher or an SAT (M + CR) of 1360 or higher, and if you are in the top 10% of graduating class. The amount is $6,500 per year.


Excellence Award

Class rank ACT 27-36 or SAT 1210-1600
Top 25% $2,000
Top 50% $1,000


Learn more about the excellence award.


Mark Twain Award

Finally, there’s the Mark Twain Non-Resident Award, based on class rank and scores.

Class Rank ACT 30-36 or SAT 1330-1600 (M+CR) ACT 27-29 or SAT 1210-1320
Top 25% $10,000 $7,000
Top 50% $8,500 $5,000


Read more about the Mark Twain Award here.


University of Nevada at Las Vegas

UNLV has the Rebel Challenge scholarship for non-resident students. The award amounts are based on GPA and SAT/ACT score, but are first-come first-serve, which means the earlier you can apply, the better.

Award Level Unweighted HS GPA SAT (M + CR) or ACT Annual Amount
President’s Award 3.75+ 1070 SAT or 23 ACT $11,000
Provost’s Award 3.5-3.74 1070 or 23 ACT $9,000
Dean’s Award 3.25-3.49 1070 ACT or 23 ACT $7,000


Read more about this scholarship here. If you’re a Nevada resident and want to learn about other scholarship options, check out their freshman scholarships page.


University of Oregon

The University of Oregon has scholarships that are automatic. The award amounts vary based on your residence status:

Scholarship GPA ACT SAT Amount
Summit (Resident) 3.8+ 26 1190 $6,000
Summit (Non-Resident) 3.8+ 26 1190 $9,000
Apex (Resident) 3.6+ 25 1150 $3,000
Apex (Non-Resident) 3.6+ 25 1150 $4,000


Note that if you raise your ACT from 25 to 26, or SAT from 1150 to 1190, your award can increase by $3,000 if you’re a resident, or $5,000 if you’re a non-resident. That’s a ton of money for just a few points! Learn more about the scholarship at Oregon's financial aid website.


University of Tennessee

To be considered for the Volunteer Scholarship, you need a strong GPA and SAT/ACT score. According to the website, “Our new Volunteer Scholarship program recognizes students with an exemplary academic record based on a combination of GPA and test scores. Incoming first-year students with a minimum 3.8 GPA who apply for admission by December 1 are eligible.” So note the early deadline, and check out the scholarship amounts below:



ACT/SAT Score Annual Award
34-36 / 1490-1600 $8,000
30-33/ 1330-1480 $6,000
28-29/ 1250-1320 $3,000



ACT/SAT Score Annual Award
34-36 / 1490-1600 $18,000
30-33/ 1330-1480 $15,000
28-29/ 1250-1320 $10,000


Learn more about the award at Tennessee's scholarships page.


University of Texas at Arlington

You will be considered for the following scholarships once you are admitted to the University of Texas at Arlington.

Scholarship Criteria Award Amount Per Year
President’s Charter 1300 SAT (CR + M)/29 ACT and Top 10% of Class or 3.5 GPA $8,000
Outstanding Freshman 1200 SAT (CR + M)/26 ACT and Top 10% of class or 3.2 GPA $6,000
Freshman Honors 1100 SAT (CR + M)/24 ACT and Top 20% of Class $4,000
Freshman Recognition 1200 SAT (CR + M)/26 ACT and Top 50% of your Texas High School class $2,000


Learn more about the award and the application process over at their website.


Utah State University

At Utah State University, there are automatic scholarships (as well as admission standards) based just on GPA and SAT/ACT score. The admissions office has created tables that you can use to look up your GPA and score to see your resulting scholarship. The amounts differ for residents and non-residents, as you can see below:




Note that a one-point ACT increase or 40-point SAT increase could be the difference between two years of full tuition and a four year, full-ride scholarship!

Read more about admission and scholarships for residents and non-residents at USU's website.


Scholarships With Score Cut-Offs

Although many universities don’t have automatic scholarships based on test scores, GPA, or class rank, many use these factors as cut-offs for scholarship consideration. So even though in these cases high scores don’t guarantee you scholarships, they are an important factor in being considered.



Just like when you were a kid and couldn't get onto the roller coasters at the theme park, you won't even be considered for some scholarships without high enough SAT/ACT scores.


For example, you’ll be considered for a full ride at Auburn University if you have at least a 33 ACT or 1440 old SAT (Math + Critical Reading) or 1490 new SAT and a 3.5 GPA if you are an Alabama resident. If you’re a non-resident, you will be considered for a $18,000 a year scholarship if you have at least a 33 ACT or 1440 old SAT (Math + Critical Reading) or 1490 new SAT and at least a 3.5 GPA.

If that’s out of your range, you could be considered for a $4,000 a year scholarship at Auburn if you have at least a 28 ACT or 1250 old SAT (Math + Critical Reading) or 1310 new SAT, and a GPA of at least 3.5. Learn more at their website

Ohio State University has minimum scores for their biggest scholarships. For example, to receive the full ride Eminence scholarship, their website advises, “Recipients of the Eminence Scholarship typically rank in the top three percent of their graduating classes and have an ACT composite score of 34 or higher or combined SAT Critical Reading and Math score of 1520 or higher.

Texas A&M has scholarship eligibility requirements as well. Under their eligibility section, they note, “To be considered for the scholarships listed, students must achieve a combined SAT Math and Critical Reading score of at least 1300 with a test score of at least 600 in each of these components or a composite ACT score of at least 30 with a test score of at least 27 in Math and English.”

So are these scholarships guaranteed even if you meet these minimum scores? No. But you won’t be considered for them at all unless your ACT or SAT score is above a certain level. Many other colleges have GPA and score cut-offs for scholarship consideration, so the higher you can get your scores, the more likely you are to earn merit scholarships.


How To Look Up Automatic Scholarships

The examples of scholarships above are just that – examples! It isn’t by any means a full list of every university in the country where you can get automatic money for your ACT or SAT score.

So how do you find that information? Search for merit scholarships.

The majority of scholarships given for test scores and GPA are merit scholarships – in other words, they are given based on your achievements, unlike need-based scholarships, which are based on your demonstrated financial need. Make sure to look for pages titled “Merit-Based” or “Academic-Based” scholarships.

Many colleges and universities have separate pages for merit scholarships that a simple search will pull up. If you do not see one, try searching “[College/University Name] Scholarships” or “[College/University Name] Financial Aid.” If you start at the university’s financial aid section, you can find information on scholarships (both merit and need-based) from there. If you can’t find the information online, try contacting either the financial aid or undergraduate admissions offices.

Keep the following guidelines in mind as you search:

1. Make sure the scholarships you find are specifically designated for “Entering Freshmen.” These are the scholarships that will apply to you as a high school student applying to college.

2. See if the college makes a designation between in-state and out-of-state applicants. In some cases, state universities will give bigger scholarships to non-resident applicants since out-of-state tuition is higher. Sometimes there are also differences in requirements and cut-off scores.

3. Check if there are separate application requirements or deadlines. Scholarship money is limited, so in general, the earlier you can apply, the better.

Use the steps below to look up whether there are automatic scholarships at any of the colleges you are interested in.


Step 1: Search for “[College/University Name] Merit Scholarships.”


I'm searching for a college in my home state of Utah.


I'll start with the second result: "Available Scholarships." This seems like the most general option, and I want to get the most information right off the bat


Step 2: Determine If You Qualify for Any of the Scholarships



I see that there are different scholarships for freshman and transfers. Also, note that they say you can apply for a scholarship just by submitting an application. Looks good so far!

Under scholarships, I select "Freshman Scholarships."


Reading this information, they don't seem to distinguish between resident and non-resident scholarships. They also seem to place a lot of value on GPA and SAT/ACT score, which is a good sign they might have automatic merit scholarships. Scrolling down, I see this:



If you see a table or index with GPA and test scores you’re in luck, you’re likely looking at scholarship guidelines or automatic scholarships.

In Westminster's case, it looks like these are the amounts they generally give for certain GPA and test scores, though they say the chart is a "general representation," so these amounts might change based on other info in the application.

So it looks like at Westminster College you have a very strong chance of earning a scholarship if your GPA and SAT/ACT score fall somewhere on this table.


Step 3: Check If You Need to Do Anything to Apply

As I mentioned above, there is no separate application for scholarships in this case. Westminster is a good bet for an automatic scholarship, and the higher your scores, the more money you are likely to get.


You can repeat this process at any school you're interested in, but keep in mind that automatic scholarships are relatively rare (especially at more selective schools), so you may not find anything.


What’s Next?

Some schools don't have merit-based scholarships but do have very impressive need-based financial aid packages. However, those schools are often prestigious and top-ranked, and so they are the toughest to get into. Develop a target ACT or SAT score to be competitive for admission at competitive schools.

Avoid some of the most common ACT mistakes to raise your score. Also, learn how to improve a bad SAT math score.

Shooting for perfection? Get study tips from our SAT 2400 full scorer, and learn what it takes to get a 12 on an SAT essay or an ACT essay.


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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Halle Edwards
About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.

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