When we talk about strong ACT scores, we’re usually thinking about successful college applications. But once you’ve been accepted to the school of your dreams, a high ACT composite can also help you win scholarships and other kinds of financial support.
Here’s a quick review of how ACT scoring works:
The test includes four multiple choice sections, each of which gives you a scaled score between 1 and 36. Your composite score is the average of your four scaled scores. Remember, the Writing Test is optional and doesn’t affect your composite.
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So what is a good ACT score to aim for when you’re trying for scholarships?
As you’ve probably guessed, the answer depends on which specific scholarships you’re applying for and where. There’s a whole world of funding opportunities out there, and not all of them require scores in the high 30s. At the same time, the higher your score, the more opportunities that will be open to you and the more likely the funding will be of higher value.
Be aware that many scholarships have eligibility criteria that goes beyond just your test score. In order to apply, you may need to (for example) be a resident of Oregon, have Swedish ancestry, or demonstrate an interest in a particular career such as nursing or politics.
Scholarships Open to Students With Higher ACT Scores
Any ACT composite above the national average (which is a score of roughly 21) will be competitive for some scholarships. Here are a few examples. If you’re interested in finding out more about any of these opportunities, search for the scholarship name and check out the links listed at the end of this article.
- Oklahoma State University currently offers a $7,000 annual scholarship to incoming students who score at least 25.
- Bluffington College in Iowa offers over $10,000 per year to first-year students who score 27 or higher.
- Ohio University in Athens, Ohio offers the Gateway Excellence Scholarship, providing full tuition to students with a GPA over 3.0 and an ACT score of 32 or above.
- The Florida Retired Educators Foundation Scholarship grants $4,000 to each of three students annually. To qualify, you must have an ACT composite of 21 or higher and an interest in becoming a teacher in Florida.
- The George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation Scholarship awards seven grants of $18,000 each year. You can apply if you’re from one of the Houston counties (Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery, or Waller) and achieve an ACT composite of at least 23.
- The Heidelberg University Faculty Scholarship is for first-year undergraduates who combine a 2.7-2.99 GPA with a minimum ACT composite score of 25. Winners get $14,500.
- The Marie Curie Scholarship is offered jointly by the National Science Foundation and the College of Saint Mary in Nebraska. Each year, five female students are awarded up to $20,000 each. Candidates must be planning to major in biology, chemistry or mathematics and have an ACT score of 25 or above.
- The New Mexico Scholars Program is open to New Mexico residents studying at the College of Santa Fe, St. John’s College, or the College of the Southwest. To qualify, you need an ACT score of at least 25.
- The Vinson & Elkins Scholarship Foundation gives $10,000 to each of seven students annually. Applicants must be Texas high school seniors with an ACT composite of 22 or above.
- Siena Heights University S-STEM Scholarships is offered by the National Science Foundation to ten students each year. Applicants must be majoring in environmental science, chemistry, or biology, and have an ACT composite of at least 26. Each scholarship is worth $20,000.
- The EMU Presidential Scholarship is awarded to 16 freshmen each year at Eastern Michigan University. Candidates need to have competed in the Presidential Scholarship Competition and achieved an ACT score of 25 or higher. Each winner receives $73,600.
- The Deana’s Wish Memorial Scholarship goes to a student who has been diagnosed with esophageal or stomach cancer, or who has an immediate family member who has. Applicants also need a 3.0 GPA and an ACT composite of at least 24.
- The Burger King James W. McLamore Foundation Scholarship gives $50,000 to each of three students who demonstrate strong leadership skills in community service or athletics, and who also have significant work experience. To qualify, you need a 3.5 GPA and an ACT composite of 25.
Scholarships Open to Students With Lower ACT Scores
There are also scholarships available to students whose ACT scores are below average. The AIEF Undergraduate Scholarship Program, for instance, offered by the American Indian Education Foundation, invites applications from all students of Native American or Alaska Native descent with a GPA of 2.0 or above.
Where Do I Start?
Things to Remember About Your ACT Score and Scholarships
- Never assume that your score is too low to qualify you for financial support.
- The higher your composite score, the more funding will be available to you.
- Talk with financial aid experts at the universities where you’re applying. There’s an ocean of information out there, and you’ll want to get help navigating it.
- Take the ACT in good time. The earlier you have your score in hand, the more time you’ll have to track down possible funding opportunities.
- Start your research during junior year. Identifying potential scholarships early helps you identify your ideal target ACT score.
- Expenses for the ACT also include proper prep materials provided by The Princeton Review, Kaplan, ACT Online, and others.