Scholarships To Get Free Room And Board In College

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Lori Pace

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has released the most recent data on the cost of room and breakfast per year. It is $11,386 for public colleges, and $12,787 for private colleges. When you consider the average cost of a bachelor’s, room and board can easily account for 24% to 45 percent of college expenses. So, your question might be where and how can you find grants, or scholarships, for room and board in college?

It’s possible to have lodging and meals for free as a college student. The FAFSA can be used to apply for scholarships and reduce the cost of room or board by filling it out every year. Instead, many college students serve as resident advisors. You can also choose to attend a military school or college that offers free-ride scholarships.

Become a Resident Advisor To Get Free Room And Board

Sometimes referred to as resident advisors (RAs), college-level mentors who create a safe and supportive environment for students living in dorms or other student housing options. Freshmen who are just moving from living at home to being independent can benefit especially from the assistance of RAs.

Become a Resident Advisor
Become a Resident Advisor.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Facilitating housing or dorm activities
  • Conflicts between residents or roommates can be resolved
  • Submission of reports regarding safety violations or other issues
  • Responding to emergencies, reports, and requests
  • Ensure that all residents follow rules and regulations

However, just because you are interested in becoming an RA to get free room and board or to be able to develop and demonstrate your leadership skills does not mean you will be able to work as one.


  • A minimum of 40 credits. Some colleges and universities require RA hopefuls to have at least 40 credits. Others may require less.
  • A certain GPA is required. Some schools require RA candidates to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75. If RA’s want to retain their position, it’s important to maintain the required GPA.
  • At least a sophomore student. Many RAs begin to dream of the position in their first year of college. Schools then allow them to apply for it during their second year.
  • A year of living on campus Some colleges and universities may require RA hopefuls to live on campus for a period of time to get a feel for student housing.
  • Participating in an information session. Attendance at an information session is required for RA applicants.

An RA job is not easy. You will need to complete an application form and be interviewed, just as you would for any other job. If you want to be a RA, it is obvious that you must meet all requirements and impress with your application. However, RAs don’t always get free accommodation.

RA’s in some schools are paid. Some schools offer RAs a partial or full discount on lodging and meals. Before you apply to become an RA in order to get a room and board at no cost, please consult the resident assistant recruitment committee.

Apply for Room and Board Scholarships

Room and Board Scholarships
Room and Board Scholarships?

Some scholarships require that the recipient spend the money only on tuition. There are others that allow the award money to be spent on college-related expenses.

Did you know there are scholarships for board and room use?

These scholarships are known as — you guessed it! These scholarships are known as room and board. The money awarded to awardees is intended to cover college students’ lodging and meals. You are not eligible if you plan to live at home during your undergraduate program.

Sometimes, scholarships for room and board can be provided by colleges and universities. Sometimes, however, they may also be provided by alumni, donors, or other organizations considered friends of the institution.

For example, the University of California – Berkeley offers the International House, or I-House, room and board scholarship program. According to UC Berkeley, I-House was made possible by the generosity and support of alumni and friends who help students with a demonstrated need to live on-campus.

I-House is not only for US residents, but around 75% are international students.

You must meet certain requirements if you wish to be an RA and live in the I-House at UC Berkeley. You must meet the following requirements to be considered:

  • As a full-time undergraduate student, junior or senior
  • Demonstrating financial need
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Submitting the application and supporting documents

Board and Room Scholarships

Many colleges and universities offer their own board and room scholarships. Some offer discounts on food and accommodation, while others permit awardees free housing on campus.

discounts on food
Discount food or even free housing on campus.

Room and board scholarships can also be awarded from outside the campus. These scholarships are also known as private room or board scholarships and can be offered by individuals, businesses, foundations, charities, non-profit organizations, and banks. You can usually find them online.

Possible Eligibility Criteria:

  • Merit-Based
  • Need-Based
  • GPA
  • Extracurriculars

Check the eligibility requirements before applying for room or board scholarships. If you don’t meet the requirements of the provider, it is not worth applying for a scholarship with a cash prize.

Fill Out And Submit The FAFSA

If you are looking to have room and board for free, don’t limit yourself to scholarships for room and board. You should also apply for private scholarships that can be used to help pay qualified college expenses.

Many private scholarships can be applied for by filling out the FAFSA.

It is obvious that if you are looking to get a bachelor’s without having to pay for room and board, you will need to file the FAFSA immediately after it comes out each October. Private scholarships might require applicants to complete the FAFSA as well as their own application forms. There are others that don’t use the FAFSA to determine eligibility.

In other words, ensure that you read the application steps for private scholarships carefully. Private scholarships are easy to find. You can search online for private scholarships, as well as local newspapers, community bulletin boards, and local library reference sections. If you’re still in high school and are interested in free college room and board, the financial aid office at your college or university is also available.

There are no restrictions on the number of private scholarships you can apply for and receive.

Be aware that a private scholarship can decrease the amount you receive from your school. It’s not true that private scholarships will replace financial aid, but it is important to remember that your family won’t have to cover more of your college costs.

The federal government will require colleges or universities to reduce your financial aid award if all aid received — institutional aid, federal aid, and private award — exceeds $300.

You will need to report every private scholarship that you win.

You could be awarded an over-award if you fail to report the private scholarships to your university. This is something you don’t want to happen. This is because you’ll have to repay any excess amount beyond your cost of attendance and federally determined need eligibility.

Join a Military School

You can get free college room and board by going to certain military schools. There are many military schools across the country. Some schools are completely free to attend while others require students to pay the same as traditional colleges and universities.

But, it is generally cheaper to attend military schools — tuition costs range from $25,000-$50,000 per year. Some military schools offer accommodation and food for free, as tuition includes room and board. Tuition costs can vary depending on where the student lives.

If your goal is to spend zero on room and board, don’t be discouraged. There are military schools that offer lodging and meals at no cost. Tuition is also free. As expected, however, tuition is free in exchange for college education. This service obligation can be started for at least five years.

These are five US military schools that offer tuition and room and breakfast for free.

US Air Force AcademyColorado Springs, Colorado
US Coast Guard AcademyLondon, Connecticut
US Merchant Marine AcademyKings Point, New York
US Military AcademyWest Point, New York
US Naval AcademyAnnapolis, Maryland

Keep in mind, however, that applying for military school is the same as applying to the best colleges and universities in the country. There are very few chances of you being admitted.

NCES says that the average acceptance rate at these five military schools where tuition and room and breakfast are not included in the price is 9.8%. It’s easy to see why these academies have a single-digit acceptance rate.

Attend a College Offering Full-Ride Scholarships (Include Room And Board)

Different universities and colleges offer different scholarships. These scholarships are awarded by the institutions. Some scholarships are competitive, while others have more modest awards. But, there’s one type of institution scholarship that many want to win: a full-ride award.

A full-ride scholarship, as the name implies, covers all costs related to earning a bachelor’s. This includes tuition, student fees and books. Full-ride scholarships are not available at all US institutions of higher education. While many institutions offer them, very few students are able to win them.

In fact, less that 20,000 first-year students receive full-ride scholarships each year. Full-ride scholarships may be merit-based, need-based, or both. They can also be obtained from private organizations, wealthy individuals, and colleges.

Many Well-Respected Schools That Offer Full-Ride Scholarships

Agnes Scott CollegeDecatur, Georgia
Barry UniversityMiami Shores, Florida
Birmingham-Southern CollegeBirmingham, Alabama
Boston CollegeChestnut Hill (Massachusetts)
Boston UniversityBoston, Massachusetts
Carthage CollegeKenosha, Wisconsin
Clemson UniversityClemson (South Carolina)
Davidson CollegeDavidson, North Carolina
Duke UniversityDurham, North Carolina
Elizabethtown CollegeElizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Emory UniversityAtlanta, Georgia
Fordham UniversityNew York, New York
Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlanta, Georgia
Hendrix CollegeConway, Arkansas
Hiram CollegeHiram, Ohio
Illinois Institute of TechnologyChicago, Illinois
Lewis and Clark CollegePortland, Oregon
Louisiana State UniversityBaton Rouge, Louisiana
Mercer UniversityMacon, Georgia
Miami UniversityOxford, Ohio
Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, Michigan
North Carolina A&T State UniversityGreensboro, North Carolina
North Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, North Carolina
Northeastern UniversityBoston, Massachusetts
Oberlin CollegeOberlin, Ohio
Oglethorpe UniversityAtlanta, Georgia
Providence CollegeProvidence, Rhode Island
Purdue UniversityWest Lafayette, Indiana
Rhodes CollegeMemphis, Tennessee
Rollins CollegeWinter Park, Florida
Salem CollegeWinston-Salem (North Carolina)
Soka University of AmericaAliso Viejo, California
Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, Texas
Stevens Institute of TechnologyHoboken, New Jersey
Syracuse UniversitySyracuse, New York
Texas Christian UniversityFort Worth, Texas
Tulane UniversityNew Orleans, Louisiana
University of AlabamaTuscaloosa (Alabama)
University of ChicagoChicago, Illinois
University of DelawareNewark, Delaware
University of GeorgiaAthens, Georgia
University of HawaiiHonolulu, Hawaii
University of KentuckyLexington, Kentucky
University of MiamiCoral Gables in Florida
University of MississippiOxford, Mississippi
University of Notre DameNotre Dame, Indiana
University of RichmondRichmond, Virginia
University of RochesterRochester, New York
University of VirginiaCharlottesville, Virginia
Vanderbilt UniversityNashville, Tennessee
Wake Forest UniversityWinston-Salem (North Carolina)
Washington and Lee UniversityLexington, Virginia
Washington University in St. LouisSt. Louis, Missouri
William and MaryWilliamsburg, Virginia

What You’ll Get Besides Free Room And Board Scholarships

You don’t get much for your room and board. This applies regardless of whether the college has a public or private campus. Students may have to pay for meals and lodging while they are completing their degrees. This is especially true for students who live far from home.

Don’t worry, there are steps that you can take to get free college room and board, like the ones we discussed in this article. This will make earning a degree more affordable.

Smart choices at the beginning of each academic year or during college applications can help you reduce your college expenses. You won’t have to pay for food and accommodation. You will be fine if you choose the right option from the list.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!