Maybe you've taken the SAT or ACT and got a really good score, but you 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'll 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 test 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'll 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.
At Loyola University, a private college, you can get $2,000 for being a National Merit finalist.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg of National Merit scholarships. To learn more about sponsoring universities, read here.
Automatic Scholarships Based on SAT/ACT Scores
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
- 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 offers scholarships based on SAT/ACT score and class rank. They are currently updating their automatic scholarships, but these were the amounts award in years past:
|Scholarship||Amount Awarded per Year (Estimate)|
|President's Gold Scholarship||$19,000-21,000|
|Provost's Gold Scholarship||$16,000-18,000|
|Dean's Gold Scholarship||$13,000-15,000|
|Founder's Gold Scholarship||$10,000-12,000|
Baylor does not have set cut-offs for these award tiers but bases the awards on SAT/ACT score, GPA, and class rank. If you choose to apply without an optional test score, your eligibility will be calculated based on GPA and class rank. More than 86% of Baylor students receive an academic scholarship, and the medium award amount is $16,000 a year.
Like Baylor, Clemson is also revamping the requirements for their automatic scholarships, so current data isn't available yet. However, here are the requirements and awards for the 2019/2020 school year:
|Scholarship||Minimum SAT or ACT Score||Class Rank Requirement|
|Resident Merit Scholarship (for in-state residents)||SAT: 1280 ACT: 27||Top 10%|
|Out of State Tuition Scholarship||SAT: 1340 ACT: 29||Top 10%|
At Clemson, South Carolina residents will receive the Resident Merit Scholarship if they are ranked in the top 10% of their high school class and also have at least a 1280 SAT (Math + Critical Reading) or 27 ACT.
Non-residents with at least a 1340 SAT or 29 ACT and ranked in the top 10% of their class will receive a renewable scholarship. The scholarship page notes "students who demonstrate financial need through their FAFSA application will be considered for renewable grant funds in addition to any merit scholarship offered." So although they don't have hard numbers, you may receive more aid if you need it.
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. Because they are test optional for 2020/2021 applicants, they are updating requirements for the automatic scholarships. The information below was true for 2019/2020 applicants, but it will likely have some updates announced.
Merit Scholarships for Colorado Residents
Note that score increases net you more money: to take just one example, going up 3 ACT points or 1300-1390 can get you $500 more dollars, depending on your GPA!
Merit Scholarships for Non-Residents
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
FAMU offers a Distinguished Scholars program that covers the cost of tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students with at least a 1400 on the new SAT (with a math score of at least 700) or 32 on the ACT (with a math score of at least 32) and a FAMU recalculated GPA of at least 4.0.
If you don't reach the cut off for the Distinguished Scholarship, you can still earn the George W. Gore Assistantship Scholarship or the Presidential Special Scholarship. The amount of the award changes based on your GPA and test scores:
|Scholarship||Minimum SAT or ACT Score||Minimum Math Score||FAMU GPA|
|George W. Gore||SAT: 1330 ACT: 29||SAT: 640 ACT: 29||3.75|
|Presidential Special Scholarship||SAT: 1260 ACT: 27||SAT: 600 ACT: 27||3.5|
Read more about scholarships on FAMU's admission website.
Florida Gulf Coast University
FGCU has scholarships based on GPA and SAT/ACT score.
|Scholarship||Residency Requirement||Minimum SAT or ACT Score||Minimum GPA||Amount Awarded per Year|
|President's Gold||Florida Resident||SAT: 1320 ACT: 28||3.9||$5000|
|President's Silver||Florida Resident||SAT: 1220 ACT: 25||3.5||$3000|
|Blue and Green Scholars Award||Non-Florida Resident||SAT: 1320 ACT: 28||3.9||$15,000|
|Blue and Green Directors Award||Non-Florida Resident||SAT: 1220 ACT: 25||3.5||$10,000|
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. They don't publish eligibility information, but you could earn anywhere from a $500 one-time scholarship to a $3,000 renewable scholarships.
Texas Tech University
These Presidential Scholarships are automatic and are guaranteed if you apply by December 1 and are admitted to Texas Tech by April 15.
Texas Tech scholarships are determined in part by your class ranking, with a greater weight placed on SAT/ACT scores. As your SAT score goes up, the required class rank goes down—students with a 1200+ SAT score or 25+ ACT score may receive a scholarship at a top 30% class ranking, and students with a 1400+ SAT or 31+ ACT score may receive a scholarship at a top 40% class ranking.
Note that small increases in your ACT or SAT score could increase your scholarship by $1,000 or more per year. Read more about the scholarships at the TTU website.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona uses test scores and GPA to calculate scholarship award ranges. For 2020-2021, the award will only be based on GPA. There are categories for both Arizona residents and non-residents.
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 23 ACT for MS Residents (1050 SAT or 1130 SAT-R) or 25 ACT for nonresidents (1130 SAT or 1200 SAT-R)" are considered for the Academic Excellence scholarship. You are automatically considered after being admitted to the University of Mississippi.
The University of Mississippi is currently redesigning their merit scholarship program, so specific award amounts aren't currently available, but should be in the upcoming months.
Lean 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. There are scholarships for both in-state and out-of-state students. You can learn more about University of Missouri's scholarships here.
|Scholarship||Residency Requirement||Minimum SAT or ACT Score||Amount Awarded per Year|
|Chancellor's Award||Missouri Residents||SAT: 1390 ACT: 31||$6500|
|Curators Scholars Award||Missouri Residents||SAT: 1300 ACT: 28||$4500|
|Excellence Award||Missouri Residents||SAT: 1200 ACT: 25||$3000|
|Mark Twain Award||Non-Missouri Residents||SAT: 1360 ACT: 30||$15,000 (approx.)|
|Mark Twain Award||Non-Missouri Residents||SAT: 1260 ACT: 27||$7000|
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.
|Scholarship||Minimum SAT or ACT Score||Minimum GPA||Amount Awarded per Year|
|President's Award||SAT: 1130 ACT: 23||3.75||$11,000|
|Provost's Award||SAT: 1130 ACT: 23||3.5||$9,000|
|Dean's Award||SAT: 1130 ACT: 23||3.25||$7,000|
UNLV also has other automatic consideration scholarships. They are currently updating the award amounts and qualifications for the 2021 entering class, but here is how they looked as of 2020 so you can get an idea of what they may require and award:
Check out their freshman scholarships page for updates and more information.
University of Oregon
The University of Oregon has scholarships that are automatic. The award amounts vary based on your residence status:
|Scholarship||Residency Requirement||Minimum SAT or ACT Score||Minimum GPA||Amount Awarded per Year|
|Summit||Oregon Resident||SAT: 1250 ACT: 26||3.8||$6000|
|Summit||Non-Oregon Resident||SAT: 1250 ACT: 26||3.8||$10,000|
|Apex||Oregon Resident||SAT: 1220 ACT: 25||3.6||$3000|
|Apex||Non-Oregon Resident||SAT: 1220 ACT: 25||3.6||$7500|
Note that if you raise your ACT from 25 to 26, or SAT from 1220 to 1250, your award can increase by $3,000 if you're a resident, or $2,500 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 who apply for admission by December 15 are eligible." (Although test scores can be submitted up until July 1, 2021). So note the early deadline, and check out the scholarship amounts below:
|Minimum SAT or ACT Score||Minimum GPA||Amount Awarded per Year|
|SAT: 1490 ACT: 34||3.0||$8,000|
|SAT: 1360 ACT: 30||3.0||$5,000|
|SAT: 1300 ACT: 28||3.0||$3,000|
|Minimum SAT or ACT Score||
Amount Awarded per Year
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. UT Arlington is currently updating eligibility for these awards, but you can expect them to remain fairly similar to what they were in previous years (see the chart below). The amount of the awards will remain the same.
Minimum SAT or ACT Score
Class Rank or GPA Requirement
Amount Awarded per Year
Top 20% of class
|Maverick Academic Scholarship||
Top 50% of class
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 on a combination of GPA and SAT/ACT score. The admissions office has created tables for both residents and nonresidents that you can use to see which scholarship you'd be eligible for.
|Presidential||100% tuition and fees||4 years|
|Dean's||90% tuition||2 years|
|Scholar||60% tuition||2 years|
|Merit||40% tuition||2 years|
|Achievement||20% tuition||2 years|
|Presidential||100% tuition and fees (about $47,000)||4 years|
|100-Mile Radius||$11,500||1 year|
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 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, Texas A&M offers multiple scholarships based on test scores, GPA, and/or class rank. So are scholarships like these 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 first result: "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 all undergrad students are automatically considered for merit-based scholarships, and you can also apply for additional scholarships. Looks good! Scroll down to First-Year Student Scholarships.
Reading this information, they don't seem to distinguish between resident and non-resident scholarships. They mention at least having a 3.0 GPA, but they don't give specific ACT/SAT requirements. However, they do list different scholarship awards students can be offered, and you can go to their net price calculator to estimate the merit scholarship award you might be eligible for.
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.
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.
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:
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
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.