We’re here to rank the 20 best universities with full-tuition scholarships for National Merit Finalists, complete with summaries of the top ten.
Each of these universities offers full-tuition to full-ride guaranteed scholarships for National Merit Finalists. While the scholarships may require a certain high school GPA, they are generally pretty close to automatic. Get recognized as a National Merit Finalist, get a sweet scholarship.
Each hyperlink leads directly to the universities’ respective scholarship pages for National Merit, where you can find more information on their scholarship offers, including deadlines and specific requirements.
A brief note on our ranking methodology: in this article, the scholarship package is not considered for ranking purposes. The rankings are based primarily on the universities’ academic reputations and student outcomes.
We’d like to dedicate this article to lovers of sunshine everywhere, as Texas and Florida dominate the rankings with a full third of the listed universities.
20. Texas Tech University: 100% of federally approved cost of attendance including tuition, fees, room, board, books, transportation and a personal/miscellaneous allowance
19. University of Texas at Dallas: Full tuition, fees, and board, $4,000 per semester stipend, one-time $6,000 international study stipend
18. University of New Mexico: Full tuition, fees, housing, and an iPad
17. Regent University (Virginia): Full tuition
16. Florida Atlantic University: Up to full cost of attendance
15. Oklahoma State University: A five-year full tuition waiver and a combination of state, university, and National Merit funding
14. University of Maine: Full tuition, fees, room and board
13. University of Idaho: Full tuition, room and board
12. Fordham University (New York): Full tuition for four years
11. University of Kentucky: Full tuition plus a one-year housing stipend of $10,000
Scholarship: Full tuition, fees, room and board, up to the cost of attendance
Located in Greater Miami, Florida, this public research university enrolls a student body of around 54,000. Their international business program has been ranked 2nd in the nation, and their finance and pre-law programs are also well-recognized.
With a full ride scholarship for National Merit Scholars, FIU’s call may be hard to resist.
Scholarship: Full tuition
Best known for their football team, this public research university also boasts a big campus and strong academics.
Nebraska was ranked 139th nationally by U.S. News and World Report, with the business school coming in at 44th and the college of engineering at 80th. The university’s programs in agriculture and forestry have also been ranked in the top 50 nationally.
If you’re looking for a university in the Great Plains, Nebraska offers a full tuition scholarship and excellent academic experience for National Merit Scholars.
Scholarship: Full tuition and fees
While lacking the renown of its neighbor in Massachusetts, this polytechnic institute still has plenty to be proud of. It recently cracked the U.S. News and World Report’s top 100 universities at 97 overall.
Other publications have listed NJIT programs even higher: 1st in computer information systems, 2nd in civil engineering, and 6th in biomedical engineering. It also ranked 34th nationally in students’ median income ten years after entering college, at $67,837.
NJIT also has significantly lower enrollment than some of the public universities on this list, with only 8,794 undergraduates enrolled in 2019.
If you’re interested in a technical program at a smaller school, New Jersey Institute of Technology is an excellent choice for National Merit Scholars.
Scholarship: Full tuition for four years, $5,500 freshman housing scholarship, $5,500 annually for fees, books, room and board, $5,000 cash stipend, $1,000 technology and textbook stipend, $1,000 research and study abroad stipend
Though perhaps best known for its football, Oklahoma is also highly respected for its academic programs. It was ranked 108th in America by Washington Monthly, and 132nd by U.S. News and World Report.
OU offers more than 120 majors, and also boasts an honors college with its own faculty, courses, and writing center. Its best-known programs include pharmacy, library and information studies, engineering, business, healthcare management, and art.
Not factored in this ranking is OU’s sweet scholarship for National Merit Finalists, which explains why 152 Finalists and Scholars enrolled at OU in 2018.
Scholarship: Award over full tuition
The University of Arizona, located in Tucson, Arizona, is a public research university.
Its notable majors include an excellent architecture program, along with other recognized programs such as linguistics, biological and biomedical fields, psychology and education. Forbes also notes Arizona’s “world-renowned space exploration program”, along with other future-oriented majors.
The University of Arizona lands 6th on our list and is a great choice, especially if you’re interested in one of their best-known programs.
Scholarship: Full cost of attendance
Located in Tampa Bay and enrolling over 50,000 students, the University of South Florida takes pride in its research and innovation. Among national public universities, USF ranks 7th in the number of patents granted.
USF also has ten graduate programs ranked in the top 50 nationally, in fields such as audiology, criminology, public health, and industrial and organizational psychology (ranked 2nd overall).
With its generous scholarships for National Merit Finalists and Scholars, USF offers a great academic and research experience, and its location in Tampa Bay is an awfully nice bonus.
Scholarship: Full ride
UCF competes with Texas A&M for the highest campus enrollment in the nation, and it’s not hard to see why. UCF has been ranked as high as 55th nationally, and boasts a staggering number of programs.
Initially founded as Florida Technological University, its goal was to train students for the U.S. space program. Today, its technical programs continue to win recognition in fields including engineering, computer science, and graphic design. UCF’s hospitality school is also of special note, ranked first nationally and 2nd in the world.
While four Florida universities made this top 20 list, it’s UCF that takes the #1 ranking in the Sunshine State. It’s also the highest ranked university that offers a full ride for National Merit Finalists and Scholars.
Scholarship: Full tuition for four years
Washington State is a public research university founded in 1890. From its roots as an agricultural, engineering, and science college, it has grown to enroll almost 30,000 students.
Ranked as high as 29th overall nationally, the school has a rich academic history. Some of the best known programs include veterinary medicine, engineering, and international business.
If you’re looking for a strong academic university in the Northwest, WSU is the best choice.
Scholarship: Full tuition, research and travel stipend
Arizona State is a public research university with five campuses centered around Phoenix, Arizona. The Honors College, Barrett, consistently produces U.S. Fulbright student scholarship winners and has been ranked as best in the nation.
The university has been ranked as high as 46th in the nation, and is well-known for its programs in journalism and communications, criminal justice, business, engineering, law, nursing, and education.
If you want to participate in one of the premier honors colleges in the nation, Arizona State should be at the top of your list.
Scholarship: Out-of-state tuition waiver and $43,000 over four years (just under the average cost of tuition), with other potential stacking scholarships
Located in College Station, Texas, Texas A&M University is huge. With 64,961 students enrolled in the spring of 2020, it vies with UCF for the highest campus enrollment in the nation.
Academically, Texas A&M has programs in practically everything, but it’s best known for its roots—agricultural and mechanical programs. In 2020, 9 of its engineering programs ranked in the top 15 nationally, with the petroleum engineering program winning the 1st place ranking.
The Mays Business School is also well-known, and Money Magazine named it 8th in the country.
Washington Monthly placed the school 10th overall in its National University Rankings, ahead of Ivy League giants such as Columbia and Cornell.
Outside of academics, Texas A&M is known for its pride, tradition, and sports. The school also has a strong military background, and the Corps of Cadets continues to produce officers for the armed forces.
For National Merit Finalists looking for a full-tuition scholarship, Texas A&M University comes as the best choice overall, especially in the fields of agriculture, engineering, architecture and business.