I’m always amazed at how little players and their families know about athletic scholarships. Given that most of them have been justifying playing their sport for the chance at a college scholarship since middle school, you would think they would be better informed. It’s kind of like someone planning a trip to Europe and not realizing they need a passport for traveling. Yes, some of the stuff people are missing is pretty basic.
The following are 12 things you need to know if you’re looking for an athletic scholarship.
1. All NCAA and NAIA sports have limits on the maximum number scholarships schools are allowed to offer by sport. The number allowed by sport will also change by division.
2. The NCAA sets the maximum, it does not require schools to fully fund scholarships for all sports. Many schools do not fully fund all of their allowable athletic scholarships.
3. Not all sports are offered at all colleges. The NCAA requires Division 1 schools to offer at least 14 sports while Divisions 2 and 3 are only required to offer a minimum of 10 sports.
4. Head-count sports offer full-ride scholarships. This means that if a player is awarded a scholarship, it will be for the full cost of attendance. There are six head-count sports and they are only at the D1 level:
- Football (FBS only),
- Men’s Basketball,
- Women’s Basketball,
- Women’s Volleyball,
- Women’s Gymnastics,
- and Women’s Tennis.
The NAIA and all other sports at all levels are equivalency sports.
5. Equivalency sports are allowed to divide their scholarships among multiple players. For example, the value of one scholarship may be split among three players. Very few players in equivalency sports received full scholarships.
6. The NCAA allows schools to offer scholarships for multi-year periods but does not require it. Some conferences are requiring athletic scholarships to cover multi-year periods.
7. Students who receive multi-year scholarships may still choose to transfer and will be subject to the NCAA transfer rules.
8. The school is not obligated to renew a scholarship at the end of the award period. If they are an equivalency sport, they can also be renewed for a lessor amount.
9. Since equivalency scholarships generally don’t cover the total cost of attendance, players need to compare the actual amount they’ll be expected to pay after they receive an athletic scholarship, rather than just the athletic scholarships themselves. In the following example, the student pays less at the public school with a smaller percentage scholarship.
11. The National Letter of Intent only applies to students who receive athletic scholarships. D3 athletes do not sign the National Letter of Intent because they do not receive athletic scholarships.
12. Conferences and individual colleges may have stricter rules for admission than the general rules required by the NCAA for scholarship eligibility.
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