These are awarded to students who are going to compete on behalf of the school in sanctioned athletic competitions. You are not guaranteed a scholarship if you are going to play sports at your school. The possibility and amounts of each scholarship depend on the team and University.
A ‘full’ or ‘100%’ scholarship covers the cost of tuition, room, board, books, and sports-related clothing & equipment.
Strong, if you are between 14-24 years old, in school, or have been in the last two years, and have a clean record while competing at the highest level in your sport then you are well-positioned to earn a sports scholarship.
No, you must be classified as an amateur sports athlete.
Ideally, you should start the recruiting process as soon as your 1st year in high school. There is a ton of information to know about the recruiting process so be prepared once you start high school is a good idea. Doing research or obtaining the help of a recruiting service are both great ways to help you get ready for the recruiting process as you enter high school.
Start by scheduling the core courses you need to be eligible for the NCAA. Once you have your classes set, start researching colleges you’re interested in. You’ll also want to put together a resume that highlights your athletic and academic accolades, with a recruiting video and a short cover letter telling the coach why you’re interested in their program.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has a three-division system of Division I, Division II, and Division III. Under NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. Division III schools may not offer any athletic scholarships. Generally, larger schools compete in Division I and smaller schools in II and III.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has 250 member institutions, sponsors 14 sports in which it conducts 25 national championships, and has its headquarters in Kansas City. It has 21 member conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions.
The National Junior College Athletic Association is an association of community college and junior college (2-year schools) athletic departments throughout the United States. It is divided into divisions and regions. The current NJCAA has 525 member schools and holds 24 regions across 24 states.
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Student athletes are also eligible for academic scholarships if their grades and test scores qualify. Academic scholarships are great opportunities for student athletes if they don’t secure an athletic scholarship or they need more financial aid in addition to a smaller athletic scholarship package. To earn an academic scholarship, you need to have strong grades and test scores. Each university has different measures for its academic scholarship requirements, so once you start speaking with college coaches, you can ask if your grades qualify for academic money.
While all colleges and universities offer different kinds of scholarships, they don’t all have athletic scholarships. Only NCAA Division 1 and 2, NAIA and NJCAA schools can offer scholarships to all sports athletes. However, Ivy League schools and NCAA Division 3 schools do not have athletic scholarships. These programs use financial aid from other parts of the university, but not from the athletic department.
Being a strong student and athlete will help you find more college opportunities and get financial aid. Make sure you work hard to be a well-rounded student-athlete; college coaches are only interested in athletes who succeed in both the classroom and on the field.
A sports scholarship will not cover:
- SAT Registration – average $125
- Toefl registration – average $195 (International student only)
- NCAA or NAIA clearinghouse fee – average $125
- Visa – average $450 (International student only)
- Flights – average $750 (Unless a stipend is received)
- Spending money – average $1000 (Unless a stipend is received)
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Coaches will offer scholarship stipends to extremely talented athletes to help cover the cost of:
- Food off campus
- Flights to school
- Additional training
- The average stipend is around $6000 per year
The Recruitment Process
It is different for athletes and coaches. Many university coaches start recruiting from classes a few years in advance. Many athletes don’t realize this, and they continue to wait to hear from a coach. You most likely won’t be found by coaches unless you are in the top 1% of your sport in the entire country. This is why you should begin preparing for your recruitment process as soon as you start high school.
Coaches cannot evaluate you nor have any in-person contact with you from outside of their college campus. You can visit a coach on their campus during this time. Coaches can write or call you during this time.
This is a binding contract between you and the school for one year. Once you have signed this contract you are committed to that school for one year and you are no longer eligible to sign with a different program
High school athletes should register for the NCAA Clearinghouse (now called the Eligibility Center) at the beginning of their junior year.
However, everyone has a different recruiting experience, so some might register earlier, some later. Ultimately, only athletes who are going to compete at Division 1 and 2 levels need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center
It’s a good idea to start conversations with college coaches at programs you’re interested in before you register for the NCAA Clearinghouse. This is to confirm that you do have interest from either D1 or D2 schools before you spend unnecessary time and money to register.
When you do register, a college coach will need to ask that your profile be placed on the Institutional Request List (IRL). College coaches use the NCAA Eligibility Center to verify your academics and your amateurism. Only when a coach does this will your information be processed. Also, until you register with the Clearinghouse, you will not be allowed to go on official visits to schools or receive official scholarship offers.