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Guaranteed Scholarships Based on SAT/ACT Scores


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 Chicago, a private college, you can get $2,000 for being a National Merit finalist if you name Loyola as your first-choice school with the National Merit Corporation. 

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.

Automatic scholarships based on SAT/ACT scores used to be more popular, but with many colleges becoming test optional, some schools have switched to automatic scholarships based on GPA. However, a number still offer automatic scholarships based on test scores.

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

  • Florida A&M
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Texas Tech
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Tennessee
  • Utah State University


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. You'll be automatically considered for these scholarships if you apply for admission by November 1--no separate scholarship application is required!

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


Though applicants who apply by November 1 are automatically considered for these scholarships, you also have the option to retest for merit award consideration as long as you take the SAT/ACT before March.

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


Texas Tech University

These Presidential Scholarships are automatic and are guaranteed if you apply by the December 1 priority application deadline and are admitted to Texas Tech by June 1.

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.

2021-2022 Presidential Merit Levels

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 Mississippi

At the University of Mississippi, you can earn an Academic Merit 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 Merit scholarship. You are automatically considered after being admitted to the University of Mississippi.

The specific award amounts based on ACT/SAT scores and GPA are currently as follows: 



Learn 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: 1360 ACT: 30 $7,200
Curators Scholars Award Missouri Residents SAT: 1230 ACT: 26 $5,000
Excellence Award Missouri Residents SAT: 1060 ACT: 21 $3,500
Mark Twain Award (Level 1) Non-Missouri Residents SAT: 1300 ACT: 28 $21,500 
Mark Twain Award (Level 2) Non-Missouri Residents SAT: 1130 ACT: 23 $8,500


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:


Tennessee Residents

Minimum SAT or ACT Score Minimum GPA Amount Awarded per Year
SAT: 1490 ACT: 34 3.8 $9,000
SAT: 1360 ACT: 30 3.8 $5,000
SAT: 1300 ACT: 28 3.8 $3,000


Non-Tennessee Residents

Minimum SAT or ACT Score Minimum GPA Amount Awarded per Year
SAT: 1490 ACT: 34 3.0 $18,000
SAT: 1360 ACT: 30 3.0 $15,000
SAT: 1300 ACT: 28 3.0 $10,000


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


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.



Scholarship Award Amount Duration
Presidential 100% tuition and fees 4 years
Dean's $7,387 per year 2 years
Scholar $4,500 per year 2 years
Merit $3,000 2 years




Scholarship Award Amount Duration
Presidential 100% tuition and fees (about $47,000) 4 years
Dean's $23,305 year one; $7,387 year two 2 years
Scholar $17,000 1 year
Merit $15,000 1 year
100-Mile Radius $11,500 1 year
WUE $11,500 4 years


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.


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 full scorer, and hit all your test score goals.



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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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