Office of Admissions Scholarship for Freshmen

Your hard work in the classroom can pay off! Iowa State University offers merit-based awards to new students based on their academic records. Start by applying for admission and you will be considered for our special awards! Recipients are notified about automatic scholarships shortly after their admission to Iowa State. The Return to Iowa-Generations Scholarship requires an application.

We have an exceptional adventure in store for high-achieving and highly motivated students like you! Explore your scholarship opportunities now.

Select your state below to review all of the awards available to you through the office of Admissions.

Iowa Resident National Merit Full Tuition Scholarship

Iowa residents who are named National Merit Scholars by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation will qualify for a full tuition scholarship available for four years (eight semesters) of undergraduate coursework at Iowa State University. To renew this award, the student must remain continuously enrolled at Iowa State University on a full-time basis as an Iowa resident in good academic standing and maintain a minimum 3.00 cumulative grade point average. This award is available during fall and spring semesters only, not during the summer session. Students who receive the full tuition scholarship are not eligible for other merit awards from the Office of Admissions including the President’s Award for Competitive Excellence, the Academic Recognition Award, or the Cardinal Leadership Scholar Award.

Requirements
  • Apply and be offered admission to Iowa State University as an incoming freshman.
  • Complete the Preliminary SAT®/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
  • Notify the National Merit Scholarship Corporation that Iowa State University is your first choice college.
  • Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Be named a National Merit Finalist and Scholar.

Special Awards for Iowa Residents

Iowa State University offers automatic scholarship awards to Iowa resident freshman applicants who rank in the top 15 percent of their graduating class, who present a superior overall academic record that includes a challenging college preparatory curriculum, or who have achieved a minimum ACT or SAT score and grade point average as specified in the award requirements.

Award Combinations: Students may not receive both the President’s Award for Competitive Excellence and the Academic Recognition Award. However, students receiving the President’s Award for Competitive Excellence or the Academic Recognition Award can also receive the Cardinal Leadership Scholar Award in addition to these scholarships.

Deadline: These awards are automatically awarded to all qualified students who are offered admission by March 1, 2017 for the fall of 2017. Awards may also be made after this date, contingent upon the availability of funds. Award requirements and values are reviewed on an annual basis and are, therefore, subject to change for future students.

Important: While these awards may be offered based on preliminary or self-reported academic information, all awards are contingent upon receipt of your official, final high school transcript verifying all requirements have been met. If your final transcript shows all requirements have not been fulfilled, your award will be withdrawn. To qualify for a freshman scholarship, a student must enroll at Iowa State University for the fall semester immediately following high school graduation; a student who has attempted college coursework after the summer immediately following high school graduation is considered a transfer student, and, therefore, is not eligible for freshman scholarships. Additionally, a student must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident to qualify.

President's Award for Competitive Excellence

The President's Award for Competitive Excellence is automatically awarded to all Iowa residents who are offered admission to Iowa State as freshmen entering directly from high school and who have successfully completed the college preparatory curriculum outlined below, including cumulative grade point average and test score.

Amount: $10,000
$2,500 per year for 4 years*

Requirements
Math Through 1 year of calculus (pre-calculus does not satisfy this requirement)
Science 3 years from among biology, chemistry, and physics - Note: Must be high school's college-prep biology, chemistry, or physics; 9th grade physical science does not satisfy this requirement
Foreign Language 4 years of a single foreign language (through level 4 in high school, ex: Spanish 4)
High School GPA 3.30 (4-point scale) or higher
Test Score Any one of the following:
  • ACT composite score at least 28
  • SAT Critical Reading+Math score at least 1240 (if SAT was taken before March, 2016)
  • SAT Evidence-based Reading and Writing + Math score at least 1310 (if SAT was taken in March, 2016, or later)

Academic Recognition Award (ARA)

The Academic Recognition Award is automatically awarded to all Iowa residents who have been offered admission to Iowa State as freshmen entering directly from high school and who rank in the top 15 percent of their graduating class.

ARA Level I: $8,000

$2,000 per year for 4 years*

Requirement: Rank in the top 10 percent of graduating class or rank position 1 or 2.

ARA Level II: $7,000

$1,750 per year for 4 years*

Requirement: Rank between the top 11th through 15th percentile of class.

Cardinal Leadership Scholar Award (CLSA)

The Cardinal Leadership Scholar Award is automatically awarded to all Iowa residents who have been offered admission to Iowa State as freshmen entering directly from high school and who have achieved the criteria listed below. Two levels of the award are granted to students depending on their academic record. The Cardinal Leadership Scholar Award can be awarded in addition to the President’s Award for Competitive Excellence or the Academic Recognition Award.

CLSA Level I: $10,000

$2,500 per year for 4 years*

Requirements
High School GPA 3.70 (4-point scale) or higher
Test Score Any one of the following:
  • ACT composite score at least 27
  • SAT Critical Reading+Math score at least 1210 (if SAT was taken before March, 2016)
  • SAT Evidence-based Reading and Writing + Math score at least 1280 (if SAT was taken in March, 2016, or later)

CLSA Level II: $4,000

$1,000 per year for 4 years*

Requirements
High School GPA 3.50 (4-point scale) or higher
Test Score Any one of the following:
  • ACT composite score at least 25
  • SAT Critical Reading+Math score at least 1130 (if SAT was taken before March, 2016)
  • SAT Evidence-based Reading and Writing + Math score at least 1200 (if SAT was taken in March, 2016, or later)

*To renew this award, the student must remain continuously enrolled at Iowa State University on a full-time basis as an Iowa resident in good academic standing and maintain a minimum 2.00 cumulative grade point average. This award is available during fall and spring semesters only, not during the summer session.