College Athletic Scholarships: A Guide for High School Athletes

09 JAN 2023

Are you a high school athlete with dreams of competing at the collegiate level? Earning an athletic scholarship can be a great way to support your education and athletic pursuits financially. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps you can take to increase your chances of earning an athletic scholarship and help you achieve your goals.

Benefits of becoming a college athlete

As a college athlete, you'll have the chance to take your athletic skills to the next level and compete at the highest level of collegiate sports. Not only will you have access to top-notch facilities and coaching, but you'll also have the opportunity to grow personally and be a part of a team. With an athletic scholarship covering the cost of tuition, you can focus on training and competing without the added financial burden.

Additonally, college athletics can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment that will stay with you long after you graduate. With hard work and dedication, you may find yourself on the path to a professional athletic career or other exciting opportunities.

Steps to Earning an Athletic Scholarship: From Eligibility to Renewal

1. Understand the NCAA's eligibility requirements for athletic scholarships.

Before you start the process of trying to earn an athletic scholarship, it's essential to understand the NCAA's eligibility requirements. These requirements vary depending on the division level and the specific sport, but you'll need to have a strong GPA, meet specific standardized test score requirements, and graduate from high school. You'll also need to be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center and have your amateur status certified.

2. Create a solid athletic and academic profile.

You'll need a strong athletic and academic profile to be competitive in the recruitment process. This includes stats and accomplishments on the field, as well as your grades and test scores. You'll want to keep your grades up and take challenging courses to show that you can handle the academic rigors of college.

3. Get noticed by college coaches through camps, showcases, and game films.

One of the key ways to get recruited is to get noticed by college coaches. This can be done by attending camps and showcases, sending game film, and contacting coaches directly. It's essential to be proactive and ensure that coaches know your skills and interests.

4. Communicate effectively with college coaches through email, phone, and in-person interactions.

Once you've caught a coach’s attention, it's important to communicate effectively with them. This can be done through email, phone calls, and in-person interactions. Be respectful and professional in your communications, and be prepared to answer questions about your athletic and academic background.

5. Consider all your options, including Division I, II, and III schools and NAIA schools.

Many colleges and universities offer athletic scholarships, including Division I, II, and III schools and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). It's important to consider all your options and find the right fit for you academically and athletically.

6. Understand the different types of athletic scholarships and how they can be renewed.

Athletic scholarships can be full or partial and can be renewed each year based on your athletic and academic performance. It's essential to understand your scholarship’s terms and ensure you meet the requirements to renew it.

Factors Affecting Your Odds of Earning an Athletic Scholarship

What are your chances of playing your dream sport at a US college? It's difficult to say, as many factors come into play when applying to a college, including academics, financial aid requirements, and your skill level in your sport. However, some sports offer better odds of securing a full scholarship than others.

Additionally, more athletic scholarships are available for women than men in the NCAA, though this varies by sport. International students may also have a better chance of receiving funding in certain sports, particularly those played professionally on an international stage, like tennis and soccer.

It's worth noting that while teams are limited in the number of full scholarships they can award, they can divide those scholarships among multiple student-athletes. So don't be discouraged by the number of scholarships available, as there may still be opportunities for you.

Tennis

International students, especially those interested in tennis, may have a good chance of earning an athletic scholarship in the NCAA. In Division I, 35.4% of women's tennis players and 34.3% of men's tennis players are international students. The percentage is even higher in Division II, with 26.9% of women's players and 40% of men's players coming from outside the US.

However, it's worth noting that the average team size for tennis is small, with only ten players per team in Division I and II. This means that it can be competitive to earn a full scholarship, especially for men, who are limited to 4.5 full scholarships per team in Division I. Women's teams, on the other hand, are allowed eight full scholarships per team in Division I. It's also worth considering academic scholarships as an additional source of funding.

Top Five Men's D1 Tennis Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
Stanford$55,550$14,914
University of Virginia$53,850$15,632
University of Georgia$29,714$14,575
UCLA$42,226$18,452
University of Tennessee$31,832$15,908
Top Five Women's D1 Tennis Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
Stanford University$55,550$14,914
UCLA$42,226$18,452
University of Florida$29,030$12,474
University of Georgia$29,714$14,575
University of Southern California$57,256$20,054

Note: The tuition and tuition after financial aid figures are estimates based on the cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year and do not include room and board or other fees. The figures for tuition after financial aid are estimates based on the average amount of financial aid received by students at each school. Actual costs and financial aid awards may vary.

Swimming and Diving

Swimming and diving teams in Division I typically have large roster sizes, with an average of 28 swimmers and divers per team. This makes it a great sport to join if you want to socialize and make new friends, even though it is primarily an individual sport. It's worth noting that while the roster size is the same for both men's and women's teams, the NCAA allows more scholarships for women's teams.

Division I men's teams are limited to 9.9 scholarships per team, which covers about one-third of the annual cost of college for an average team size. On the other hand, women’s teams are allowed 14 full scholarships per team, which works out to about half a scholarship per student-athlete on an average squad.

International students may have the best chance of making a swimming team at a Division II school, with 15.6% male swimmers and 9.1% female swimmers coming from outside the US. These numbers decrease slightly in Division I, with 7.5% of male swimmers and 6.8% of female swimmers coming from outside the US.

Top 5 Men's D1 Swimming & Diving Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
University of Texas at Austin$51,000$17,912
UC Berkeley$57,224$19,382
University of Michigan$58,976$20,168
University of Florida$29,030$12,474
University of Southern California $57,256$20,054
Top 5 Women's D1 Swimming & Diving Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
UC Berkeley$57,224$19,382
University of Georgia$29,714$14,575
University of Texas at Austin$51,000$17,912
UCLA$42,226$18,452
University of Arizona$40,726$16,492

Note: The tuition and tuition after financial aid figures are estimates based on the cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year and do not include room and board or other fees. The figures for tuition after financial aid are estimates based on the average amount of financial aid received by students at each school. Actual costs and financial aid awards may vary.

Soccer

Soccer is a popular NCAA sport among international students, particularly male students. In Division I, 16% of male soccer players are international students, while for women, 6.2% in Division I are international students. In Division II, 20.7% of male and 5.1% of female soccer players are international students.

The chances of securing a full scholarship for soccer are also relatively high, particularly for women. NCAA Division I women's soccer teams are allowed to award 14 scholarships per team, and the average team size is 28 players, which means that each player can receive roughly half a scholarship on average. For men's soccer teams in Division I, the average team size is 29 players. Still, they are only allowed to award a maximum of 9.9 athletic scholarships per team, which covers about one-third of the average athlete's annual college costs.

Top 5 Men's D1 Soccer Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
Stanford University$58,973$18,344
University of Notre Dame$58,526$21,424
University of Virginia$54,634$19,826
University of Indiana$40,344$15,084
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill$30,932$13,927
Top 5 Women's D1 Soccer Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill$30,932$13,927
University of Notre Dame$58,526$21,424
Stanford University$58,973$18,344
University of Portland$51,192$27,192
University of Virginia$54,634$19,826

Note: The tuition and tuition after financial aid figures are estimates based on the cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year and do not include room and board or other fees. The figures for tuition after financial aid are estimates based on the average amount of financial aid received by students at each school. Actual costs and financial aid awards may vary.

Golf

Golf is a popular sport among international student-athletes, especially top female golfers. However, there are limited spots on golf teams, making it a very competitive sport. In Division I, 13.6% of male and 20.1% of female golfers are international students.

The average team size for men's golf in Division I is nine players, and the NCAA allows each school to award 4.5 full scholarships. For women's golf in Division I, the average team size is eight players, but the NCAA provides each team with six scholarships, meaning that about three-quarters of the team can receive full scholarships.

Top 5 Men's D1 Golf Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
Stanford University$58,973$18,344
University of Texas$33,818$18,818
University of Southern California$67,461$30,461
University of Oklahoma$32,382$17,382
University of Georgia$33,804$18,804
Top 5 Women's D1 Golf Schools
SchoolTuitionCost After Aid
University of Southern California$58,195$18,195
Duke University$62,383$22,383
Stanford University$60,703$20,703
University of Oklahoma$26,958$6,958
University of Alabama$30,500$10,500

Note: The "Tuition" and "Cost After Aid" figures are estimates based on the cost of attendance for the 2021-2022 academic year and do not include room and board or other fees. The figures for tuition after financial aid are estimates based on the average amount of financial aid received by students at each school. Actual costs and financial aid awards may vary.

Final Thoughts

It's important to remember that getting admitted to your dream college as a student-athlete involves more than just being skilled in your sport. College coaches and recruiters also consider your academic performance and who you are as a person off the court.

Academics are often just as important as athletics in the college admissions process. Additionally, it can be challenging to secure an athletic scholarship, and applying for an academic scholarship is a good backup option, especially at tier II academic schools that want to be more competitive athletically.

Even if you are offered a partial athletic scholarship, having strong grades may also allow you to receive an academic scholarship. However, once admitted, it is essential to maintain good grades to stay on the team and balance the demands of being a student-athlete.

Earning an athletic scholarship can be a competitive and stressful process, but with hard work, dedication, and the right strategies, it is possible to earn financial support to play your sport at the collegiate level. This guide will provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to increase your chances of earning an athletic scholarship and fulfilling your dream of competing at the next level.

If you have any questions or need extra help with the college sports recruitment process book a free consultation with one of our expert college sports recruitment consultants here!

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