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Athletic Scholarships

Athletic Scholarships During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted college sport funding. There are more than 300 athletic programs across the NCAA, NJAA, and NAIA that have been cut. Furthermore, while the future of athletic scholarships following the pandemic is still unknown, it is expected that there will be a slight decrease in scholarships in the coming years.


The Amount of Scholarship Money an Athlete Can Receive

Less than 2% of high school athletes are offered athletic scholarships; however, these scholarships add up to over $3.1 billion annually for both D1 and D2. Unfortunately, the majority of athletic scholarships are not full ride, and the size of a scholarship is typically based on whether it is a headcount or equivalency sport. Head count sports are always full ride; however, they only include revenue generating sports such as men’s basketball and women’s volleyball. On the other hand, equivalency sports typically give partial scholarships, and it is ultimately up to the coaching staff to divide their scholarship budget among athletes.

How Can an Athlete Get a Full Ride Scholarship?    

As mentioned previously, most student-athletes do not receive scholarships. Furthermore, only D1 headcount sports guarantee a full-ride, which ultimately covers expenses such as tuition, boarding, fees, books, supplier, and sometimes living expenses. If an athlete is in an equivalency sport, they can increase scholarship money by leveraging multiple offers or moving down a division. A lower level recruit for D1 could perhaps receive a larger scholarship at a D2 institution.


Ivy League Institutions and Scholarships


Unfortunately, Ivy league institutions do not offer athletic scholarships, rather they only provide need-based financial aid. Coaches often do help prospective athletes obtain financial aid; however, they have no other resources in terms of scholarship funding. That being said, Ivy league schools typically work with families to make tuition affordable. For example, households with an annual income less than $65,000 will have the cost of attendance for their athlete fully covered by the institution, and families making between $65,000 to $180,000 should expect to contribute between 10% to 18%.

Is a Scholarship Required to Participate in College Sports?

In most cases, there are more spots available on a team than scholarships. Thus, not receiving a scholarship does not correlate to an athlete not being able to play on a varsity team. Many times, student-athletes will also be ‘walk-ons’. There is also the possibility of walking on the team during freshman year and receiving a scholarship in sophomore year.

How Does an Athlete Know if They Can Get an Athletic Scholarship?​


There are certain eligibility requirements student-athletes need to meet, which include both a minimum academic standard and being considered an amateur athlete. Although, meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee a scholarship. Click here for specific eligibility requirements for each division.


What Happens if an Athlete Gets a Verbal Scholarship?


A coach may offer a verbal scholarship at certain times during the recruiting process. However, these offers are non-biding; thus they are considered unofficial contracts between a coach and an athlete. The scholarship will only be confirmed once a recruit signs their national letter of intent. Once offered a verbal scholarship, it is certainly acceptable for a recruit to ask for more time to decide.

How Can an Athletic Scholarship Be Taken Away?


Unfortunately, there are a few situations that may result in an athlete getting their scholarship removed. Firstly, and most commonly, student-athletes might never have had a scholarship to begin with because verbal agreements are non-binding and do not guarantee a spot on the roster nor a scholarship. Secondly, an injury that occurred outside of practice or matches can result in a pulled scholarship. Thirdly, a coach can decide not to renew an athlete’s scholarship in the following years. Since most contracts are only one year long, this is certainly possible for many athletes. Fourthly, poor academic standing with an institution can result in a lost scholarship as well.

What Other Types of Scholarships Can an Athlete Receive?​


Since most student-athletes are not offered full-ride scholarships, academic scholarships and forms of aid could be worthwhile alternatives. There are also scholarship opportunities available outside the educational institution such as federal scholarships, non-profit organization scholarships, private providers, etc.

Next Section: Early Recruiting

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