Sports scholarships are financial awards given to athletes who demonstrate exceptional ability. These awards incentivize student-athletes to attend and play for the university that offers the scholarship. Not all athletes who play college sports are guaranteed a scholarship – only deserving students undergo the rigorous recruiting process and secure financial aid. Students are recruited from all over the world to improve a university’s championship-winning ability, and are offered financially lucrative sports scholarships to allow them to play college sport while earning a world-class degree.
No one should have to stress about finding a college sports scholarship. The earlier you embark on this journey, the better! This will help to ensure that you fully understand the process and are not rushed into making bad decisions, and it will put you in good stead to find the best scholarship offers available. We recommend that students start looking into college sports at the beginning of Grade 10.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the largest sports governing body in the United States. It has over 460,000 student-athletes, 24 different sports, and 1,200-member universities. The NCAA has two main focuses: 1) to ensure that all students put their studies before their sports and 2) to guarantee the fairness of competition by making sure that no student has played sports on a professional level at any time before attending college.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is a sports governing body that coordinates the sports played between small and medium-sized universities. There are about 300 NAIA member universities and around 60,000 student-athletes. These universities tend to be smaller, private colleges, offering a personalized experience that focuses on academic excellence and competitive athletics.
The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) has three divisions, over 500 member institutions, 60,000 student-athletes, and is made up of only junior & community colleges. Students studying here graduate after two years, with many staying only one year before moving across to finish their studies and playing careers at bigger NCAA and NAIA universities.
The NCAA has three divisions – Division I, II, and III. The classification of universities and colleges into these divisions is based on their sports budget, and not on the quality of the university itself. For example, the University of Alabama, known for its all-conquering football team, is a Division I university, while the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a Division III university, as it prioritizes academic spending over athletic investment.
The NAIA, on the other hand, has only one division for all sports except basketball, for which there are two divisions. This is mainly due to size, as it has far fewer member universities than the NCAA. Competition is no less fierce, as these are often private universities with exceptional facilities.
The NJCAA has three sports divisions. Many of these colleges focus on producing students who have the ability to transfer into four-year universities upon graduating, while others focus on functioning as a finishing school. It’s essential to make sure your junior college degree is accepted at NAIA and NCAA universities.
Needs-Based Financial Aid:
This is a prevalent form of financial assistance at the more prestigious universities. For example, Harvard only wants the best talent, regardless of their economic background. Students will submit in-depth financial information during their application, and Harvard then estimates what they can afford. If, for example, that is 10% of the cost, Harvard will grant 90% needs-based aid for the student, and so on. Students are only notified of this aid once accepted.
International Diversity Grants:
Certain universities are looking to have students from outside of the USA attend their college, and therefore provide financial grants based on a student’s immigration status. Colleges do this to increase the diversity of their student bodies, as they believe it positively contributes to the creation of global citizens.
For the artistic at heart, creative scholarships are available for art, music, and even dance, which usually involve an audition, a monologue, or portfolio submission. Depending on the university, they will let you know precisely what you will need in order to apply.
No. Professionals athletes cannot be awarded a sports scholarship. The athletic associations mandate that all student-athletes must be amateur to play college sports, and turning professional will end your eligibility to play sport at the university level.APPLY NOW