The NCAA is not the only college athletic organization with sports programs. The National Association for intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has over 250 members. Like the NCAA, the NAIA regulates the number of scholarships available and students must register with the NAIA Eligibility Center.
NAIA offers fewer sports than the NCAA but does offer more scholarships in some sports. The maximum number of scholarships allowed in baseball, men’s golf, men’s soccer, and men’s tennis are higher in the NAIA. The NCAA offers more scholarships in women’s sports compared to the NAIA.
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What Kind of Colleges are NAIA
A total of 33 NAIA schools meet the 50-50 qualifications of accepting at least 50% of students and having at least a 50% graduation rate. Of the 29 athletic conferences in the NAIA, 13 have 50-50 schools. The Crossroads League has 7 teams and the Great Plains Athletic Conference and Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference both have 4 schools each.
The states with the most 50-50 NAIA schools are Indiana, California, Indiana, and Iowa. Only 17 states have NAIA schools that meet the 50-50 qualifications and 12 of the states have only 1 school. There aren’t any 50-50 NAIA schools in the New England region and only one in the Mid-Eastern region. This isn’t surprising since most NAIA colleges can be found in the Great Lakes, Plains, and Southeast regions.
The NAIA colleges are on the small size. Only 2 have more than 5,000 full-time undergraduates. All but 7 are under 2,000 and 12 are under 1,000. The average ACT score ranges from a low of 18 to a high of 26.5. Of the schools reporting SAT scores, the lowest average was 850 and the highest was 1260.
Pay Attention to College Costs
Even in the sports that offer more scholarships than NCAA schools, you need to remember that they aren’t necessarily fully funded. And we still aren’t talking about that many more scholarships. Therefore, players and their families need to pay attention to college costs.
Only three of the 50-50 NAIA schools are public. The sticker price for the private colleges start at $33,952 and top out at over $60,000. Besides the fact that an athletic scholarship isn’t likely to cover the full amount, you need to consider what happens should you stop playing. Investing in some test prep could open up some valuable merit aid.
The following table lists the NAIA 50-50 schools by basketball conference. Schools may compete in different conference depending on the sport. Since many schools don’t compete in football, I choose to use the basketball conference. This data is from 2017 and the affiliation’s may not be current. In other words, some of it is probably no longer correct. As usual, I use the four-year graduation rate for private institutions and the five-year rate for public schools. You can find all of this information in the DIY College Rankings Spreadsheet.
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