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5 Questions Families Ask About Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships help to make college more affordable for student-athletes. However, scholarship spots are in high demand. To help student-athletes understand how athletic scholarships work and what to expect, we’ve answered five common questions about scholarships.

When can recruits expect to receive an athletic scholarship offer?

College coaches usually offer scholarships to athletes during their junior or senior year while on an official or unofficial campus visit. With in-person recruiting suspended until at least August 31, coaches are now likely to offer scholarships during a video chat with the athlete and their family. Remember—even though you’ve received a scholarship offer, the agreement isn’t binding until you’ve signed the National Letter of Intent.

How long is the athlete guaranteed an athletic scholarship?

Generally, all athletic scholarship agreements last for one year. At the end of the year, college coaches will discuss renewing the scholarship with the athlete, though there is no guarantee of renewal or that the total scholarship amount will remain the same. Athletes can lose their scholarship due to injury, academic ineligibility, coaching changes or poor performance.

What’s the difference between head count and equivalency sports scholarships?

Scholarship money is dependent on the sport you play. At the D1 level, football (FBS only), men’s and women’s basketball, women’s tennis, women’s gymnastics and women’s volleyball are headcount scholarship sports. Athletes who receive a scholarship for one of these NCAA D1 programs are given a full ride that covers tuition, books, room, board and college fees.

All the other D1, D2, NAIA and junior college sports are equivalency sports. These programs tend to offer partial scholarship opportunities, due to program funding. Coaches are given a scholarship budget to divvy up amongst recruits however they see fit. Learn more about the different types of scholarships.

The NCAA announced that, effective Aug. 1, 2020, D1 equivalency sports will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against a team’s maximum athletic scholarship limit. Student-athletes can now stack as much need-based aid and academic scholarships onto an athletic scholarship as they can secure.

Can scholarships be combined?

Student-athletes can combine a partial athletic scholarship with an academic scholarship, if their grades and standardized test scores are high enough. To be eligible for an academic scholarship as an incoming freshman, student-athletes at the D1 level need to:

• Be in the top 10% of their high school graduating class
• Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5
• Score 1200 or higher on the SAT or earn an ACT sum score of at least 105

At the D2 level, student-athletes must:

• Be in the top 20% of their high school graduating class
• Achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5
• Score at least 1200 on the SAT or earn an ACT sum score of 100 or higher.

Do Ivy League schools and NCAA D3 programs offer athletic scholarships?

No, student-athletes cannot receive an athletic scholarship from an Ivy League or D3 school. Because these schools pride themselves on academic excellence, they offer merit-based scholarships and need-based financial aid to cover the cost of tuition.

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