Sports Scholarships, Athletic Scholarships and Financial Aid for Student Athletes
This page provides information about sports scholarships, athletic scholarships, and other forms of financial aid for student atheletes. Approximately 1% to 2% of undergraduate students in Bachelor's degree programs receive athletic scholarships, a total of about $1 billion a year. Additional facts and figures concerning athletic scholarships may be found in the Backgrounder: Athletic Scholarships.
Of schools with a NCAA affiliation, only Division I and Division II schools may offer athletic scholarships. Division III schools -- the most prestigious institutions -- are precluded from offering athletic scholarships. Schools with other affiliations, such as NAIA, offer athletic scholarships according to the policies of the associations to which they belong.
Athletic scholarships are generally not available for graduate study.
For individual sports scholarships that match your profile, search the FastWeb scholarship database.
Gender Equity in Athletic Scholarships
Female students should be aware that federal law (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 USC 1681-1688) requires athletic scholarships to be distributed in an equitable fashion among the sexes. Consequently, a considerable amount of financial aid is available for women with athletic ability. The OPE Equity in Athletics Disclosure Website provides statistical information on men's and women's intercollegiate sports at almost 2,000 US colleges and universities, as mandated by the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act.
NAIA. National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, 6120 South Yale Avenue, Suite 1450, Tulsa, OK 74136. 1-918-494-8828.
NCAA. National College Athletic Association, 6201 College Boulevard, Overland Park, KS 66211-2422. 1-913-339-1906.
NCCAA. National Christian College Athletic Association, PO Box 1312, Marion, IN 46952. 1-317-674-8401.
NJCAA. National Junior College Athletic Association, PO Box 7305, Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7305. 1-719-590-9788.
NSCAA. National Small College Athletic Association, 1884 College Heights, New Ulm, MN 56073. 1-507-359-9791.
AAF. Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, 2141 West Adams Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90018. 1-213-730-9600. Also known as the LA84 Foundation, AAF was endowed with surplus funds from the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
NFSHSA. National Federation of State High School Associations, 11724 NW Plaza Circle, Kansas City, MO 64153. 1-816-464-5400.
WSF. Women's Sports Foundation, Eisenhower Park, East Meadow, NY 11554. 1-800-227-3988.
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
Recruiting ServicesFinAid does not recommend using scholarship recruiting services for high school athletes, as these are rarely worthwhile.
Instead of paying a fee to a recruiting service, put together a profile of your athletic and academic qualifications. Include copies of the best newspaper clippings in which your performance is mentioned, letters of recommendation from your current coaches, and your sport's season schedule. A short 5-10 minute video of your athletic performance may also be helpful. Send copies of this athletic portfolio to the coaches at the schools you are interested in.
The number of schools that offer athletic scholarships is rather limited. Most athletic scholarships provide only partial support, and require that the student make satisfactory academic progress for renewal. Coaches can also refuse to renew an athletic scholarship if the student's athletic performance falls short of expectations. If the student quits the team, the athletic scholarship is usually terminated immediately. (Athletic scholarships are not terminated if the student is injured during competition.)
Schools that offer significant numbers of sports scholarships include:
Sports Scholarship Sites
The following web sites are associated with sponsors of non-college-controlled sport scholarships:
In addition, the Adaptive Athletics Scholarships is noteworthy in that it provides support to disabled athletes. This scholarship is tenable only at the University of Arizona.
The following is a list of books focusing on athletic scholarships. Some describe the recruiting process, some list schools that provide sports scholarships and some do both. For further reading, be sure to check the FinAid bibliography. Check the copyright date before buying any book about scholarships, as any book that is more than one year old is too old to be useful.
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