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Understanding NCAA Scholarships

July 13, 2012

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Two-thirds of today’s college students will rack up more than $20,000 in debt before they graduate. If you’re a student-athlete, you can avoid the debt sinkhole by winning an NCAA athletic scholarship. Start the process early in your high school career.

Members of National Collegiate Athletic Association dole out more than $1.5 million in scholarships each year. Give yourself the best chance of securing some of this money by learning everything there is to know about scholarships for your sport.

Head-Count Sports

Head-count sports have a set amount of full scholarships they can offer. No partial scholarships are available for head-count sports; you either receive a full ride or nothing. In Division I schools, men’s football and basketball are head-count sports, as are women's basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and tennis.

Equivalency Sports

Equivalency sports can divide their scholarships into partial scholarships. The best players do occasionally earn full scholarships, but full scholarships are rare in these sports. Equivalency sports include all the other D-I sports and all D-II sports. Unfortunately D-III schools do not award athletic scholarships, but you may be eligible for an academic scholarship or financial aid.

Scholarship Opportunities

All NCAA scholarships are, at minimum, one-year academic agreements, and only D-I schools are allowed to have multi-year contracts. No matter the time frame, NCAA scholarships cover room, tuition, school fees and course-related textbooks.

Athletes are eligible to receive scholarship assistance and non-athletic financial aid outside of their sports programs. Coaches, especially those of equivalency sports, like signing athletes with additional scholarships, because it frees up money to fund more athletic scholarships. The NCAA also offers a Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund, which is available to recruits in good standing within their sport, grant-in-aid recipients, and non-recruited, non-scholarship student-athletes who have already played a season.

Putting It All Together

Now that you understand the basics, exactly how can you proactively work to earn a scholarship, besides dominating on the field?

  1. Focus hard on academics. Shine in the classroom and on the field.
  2. Impress coaches with your work ethic and dedication.
  3. Attend combineschallenges and camps, especially ones hosted by college coaches.
  4. Study up and strive to impress during coach visits.
  5. Seek out and write to coaches of programs you would like to attend.

Sources:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812904577295930047604846.html
http://www.ncaapublications.com/p-4270-division-i-manual-published-april-2012-pdf-and-epub-versions.aspx / Article 15
http://www.ncaapublications.com/productdownloads/CBSA.pdf / Page 19
http://www.smartmoney.com/borrow/student-loans/grad-school-higher-degrees-of-debt-1337119991742/

Johnny Quinn
- Johnny Quinn is a member of the U.S. National Bobsled Team and an 2014 Olympic hopeful. He is also the founder and president of The...
Johnny Quinn
- Johnny Quinn is a member of the U.S. National Bobsled Team and an 2014 Olympic hopeful. He is also the founder and president of The...
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