Cohort-based competitive merit scholarships

I thought it might be useful to try and compile a list of cohort-based full ride (or full tuition plus) competitive merit scholarships, as I’ve not seen anything comprehensive on that topic, and awareness seems to drop off rapidly once you get beyond the most famous scholarships like the Jefferson, Robertson and Stamps scholarships. I’m particularly interested in the competitive cohort-based programs (as opposed to auto merit for stats like the yolasite list) as those are usually merit rather than need based and seem like the most likely to provide an experience which could rival that at tippy top schools for families that might balk at paying $300K for college, but have a student who would be competitive for admission there (though it is even more difficult to win some of these scholarships than to get into HYPSM).

So if people can add to the list below, giving details of scholarships they know about/have experience with (how many awarded, number of applicants if known, benefits, etc.), I think it could be a big help to some of the people asking about merit scholarship opportunities.

Here’s a few to get started:
UVA Jefferson ( 36 per year from 2000 applicants, full ride plus enrichment, must be nominated by school, available to international students
William & Mary 1693 Scholars ( 8 per year, full ride in-state (OOS must stiill pay OOS tuition supplement) plus research grants
Duke/UNC-CH Robertson Scholars ( 27 per year, full ride plus enrichment, available to international students
UNC-CH Morehead-Cain Scholarship ( 75 per year, full ride plus enrichment, must be nominated by school, available to international students
UT Austin 40 Acres Scholarship ( 15 per year from 4000+ applicants, full ride plus enrichment
Stamps Scholarship ( Multiple schools not all full rides, but includes 40 full rides at Georgia Tech and 20 at University of Georgia
Centre College/University of Louisville Brown Fellows ( 20 per year (10 at each school), full ride plus enrichment
NC State Park ( 40 per year, full ride plus enrichment
Utah Eccles ( 30 per year, almost full ride plus research grants

In general, competitive full tuition or better scholarships should be assessed as follows:

  • Admission to college is likely or safety => scholarship is reach to high reach.
  • Admission to college is match or reach => scholarship is high reach to unrealistic reach.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University ( ): National Alumni Scholarship and Lewis and Elizabeth Dowdy Scholars Program.

University of New Mexico ( (NM resident) or (non-NM resident)): Regents scholarship

WashU (St. Louis) ( - up to 29 full tuition scholarships (some with additional stipends, and some additional half-tuition scholarships) that are major /department based, plus additional full-tuition and half-tuition awards that are more broadly based.

UCB 2 of my kiddos are alumni of both those schools and were very generous. I am a happy UNM and NCA&T Mom!!

I don’t have time to post details, but I’ll list a few and let others get and post the details.

Ole Miss - Stamps
Ohio State - Morrill and Eminence
Indiana U - Fry (diversity, business) and Wells
UNC-Charlotte - Levine
SMU - Hunt
TAMU - Brockman (not well established so will be growing pains)
UTD - McDermott
USCarolina - Top Scholars
American - Fredrick Douglass

(UGA is Foundation Fellowship/Ramsey Scholars. Only a few are also Stamps)

I would say that these are mostly high reaches for everyone with award rates below 5%, sometimes well below 1%, and an interview invite mostly determined by factors other than numerical stats (ie, very unpredictable).

There are many more full rides, but the cohort scholarships are few.

I like to call those scholarships lotteries. Sure the odds are better than the lottery, but it doesn’t seem like much.

So treat them as such take a shot and expect not to win one, but be pleasantly surprised if you do.

There are two that are not school specific but state(s) specific:

For Colorado students to be used in Colorado, Boettcher

For Colo, Wyo, Utah, and NM students, the Daniels Scholarship

Daniels is a ‘last dollar’ program so it might pay 100% COA (unlikely as there is a need component to the scholarship) or it could pay just that last $.

Boston University (tuition plus fees)

Emory (tuition, room and board).

Vanderbilt (tuition plus one summer stipend)

Wake Forest - (tuition, room & board plus stipend)

^ a lot of the scholarships being listed are not cohort scholarships.

I missed the cohort part too.

I think BU trustees and Emory Woodruff are cohort scholarships. Not sure about Vanderbilt (Cornelius) or any at Wake Forest.

One issue with highly competitive “cohort scholarships” is that they’re not simply super-stats based. One can have perfect stats and still not get one. JMHO but they seem to get awarded to students who the schools think will be accepted to HYPSM and these awards are attempts to poach them. And being a high stats URM could be a big hook.

@mom2collegekids All true. Almost every student in my D’s cohort was accepted to one or more Ivy+. And students that were offered the scholarship but declined, did so for Ivy+. The average stats of the group exceeds the average stats of all but a couple of schools, but the kids all have something extra. High stats URMs (kids in the same range of scores and rigor as the pool with good ECs) definitely have a hook, though far from a guarantee. Some years there are no URMs in the cohort; other years several. That something extra is key. I’ve helped non-URMs with less than stellar stats get some of these cohort scholarships. They are all looking for similar type kids.

The various Yolasite sites haven’t been kept up to date but this is a decent place to start:

And then there are a bunch of Stamps Scholarships at various schools.

Ohio State Eminence - full cost of attendance -

One of the most successful cohort scholarships programs due to its fantastic outcomes increasing Graduate level degrees in STEM disciplines for underrepresented minorities has not been mentioned yet. The Meyerhoff Scholars Program at UMBC gives up to tuition, room & board to Maryland students, and other smaller scholarships). That program is being emulated at several other schools.

Bison STEM Scholars Howard University (tuition, room & board, fees, and books)

Millennium Scholars Program Penn State University (tuition, room & board for Pennsylvania residents and tuition only for OOS students)

Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program UNC Chapel Hill ($10,000 per year)

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative just donated 6.9 million dollars to start similar cohort programs to the Meyerhoff Program at UC Berkeley and UC San Diego (Scholarship amounts have not been announced yet)

Bonner Scholars (Community service based cohort) Spelman College (The amount received is calculated based on financial need)

The Bonner Scholars Program with its community service focus is at many schools so I will attach info about that program:

@itsgettingreal17 Just wanted to say you are my hero when it comes to knowing where to find the money and touting some of the other advantages of cohort based scholarships (Summer Bridge Programs, extra enrichment opportunities, emphasis on study abroad, etc.) that give cohort based Scholar Programs even more value.

@ChangeTheGame UMBC looks like a great program for future STEM PhDs. Why the range in awards (all are less than full tuition, btw)? Is there a financial need component?

@itsgettingreal17 The lack of full scholarships has been a relatively recent change (maybe last 5-10 years). I have family members who were Meyerhoff Scholars and the cohorts used to be about 50 students who were all given full ride scholarships. I am not sure what caused the change but I visited the Meyerhoff Scholars office at UMBC 2 years ago and the most they offered was full tuition, room and board for Maryland students, and full tuition for OOS students (they also offered smaller scholarships as well). Looking at the website today, it looks like they may lowered the financial support even more where even Maryland Students do not get tuition, room & board.

They talked about helping my daughter find other scholarships to “stack” on top of the Meyerhoff, but it was disappointing to see that the level of financial support had changed. I assumed that the issue was funding and wanting to spread the wealth (Meyerhoff Scholars cohorts are larger today than 10-15 years ago) and not so much about the student’s financial need component being the reason why. But I have seen 1st hand that they get results (I went to one Meyerhoff family member’s wedding/reception) and seeing over 75 young minorities with STEM Masters degrees, MDs, PhDs, and MD/PhDs with others still in grad school at the wedding/reception was inspirational for my then 13 year old daughter whose current goal is to work towards a STEM terminal degree. The fact that 10% of all African American MD/PhDs in America over a recent 15 year stretch have come from a secondary state flagship school in Maryland (More than double any other school) is an amazing feat, but I do worry that the funding cuts may stop future cohorts from getting the tippy-top group of students that the program once attracted as my family members turned down schools such as Stanford, Duke, Princeton, etc. to become UMBC Meyerhoff Scholars.

@ChangeTheGame , this is happening everywhere. It’s a moving target. UA, Temple auto awards changed from just 4 years ago. Pitt, when my oldest was applying to college had auto Honors college admits and Chancellor Scholarships at levels that are now much higher for even CONSIDERATION for those awards. It’s getting increasingly difficult to get a full ride.

There is an old thread in the archives started by a mom who specifically looked for auto full rides for her kids. Used to be a pinned thread, I think, but the info now is so obsolete, it’s all buried in the archives.

What’s important in looking st these full rides, or close to it awards is to know how many are given out. If it’s just one lucky ticket holder, you might as well play the real lottery. But at least you know is at least one such award in the offering. Some schools have zero so if that’s what you need, it’s a waste of money and time to apply to them.

I’ve also noticed a lot of private schools offering much larger awards than I’d encountered in earlier years. Like $20k awards are given the way $5k ones were back 10 years ago. I guess it makes sense with the way prices have risen.