About Athletic Scholarships

Pursuing a university career in the United States is the only option to combine sport with university studies at the highest level. One of the most important factors when deciding to study in the United States is the possibility of obtaining sports and academic scholarships to help cover the expenses of these studies. The United States university system is the only system in the world that provides such a large number of athletic scholarships. These athletic scholarships can be as high as $60,000 annually.

Why do American Colleges and Universities offer Athletic Scholarships?

After a long tradition of university sport in the United States, you could not think of the American university system without sport. Athletes are a key element to this system and receive brilliant treatment. Each American university belongs to 1 of 3 university divisions and competes among the universities that belong to that particular division. Each university has its own followers and has a presence in the media. Thanks to this, sports can generate a healthy income for the university.

To achieve the best results, universities try to recruit the best players for their team, recruiting players from the United States and from countries all over the world through athletic scholarships that help these student athletes cover their university costs. Student athletes are treated like professionals and can develop a great reputation within their university.

Each year there are around 200 million athletic scholarships in the market to recruit student athletes. These scholarships can be full or partial – you can check our section ‘Types of Scholarships’ for more information.

University Divisions that offer Athletic Scholarships in the USA

NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)

This is the largest division within American universities. This division grants the highest number of scholarships each year and there are usually a higher number of sports available. The NCAA has three divisions, each with their own characteristics and great sports level.

NCAA Division I: Most of the prestigious universities belong to this university division. They are universities of great size and with a large variety of sports. NCAA Division 1 has the largest budget to recruit athletes, therefore they offer more scholarships.

NCAA Division II: This university division is formed by universities of a very high sports and academic level. Many NCAA Division 2 universities compete at a higher level than some universities in NCAA Division I. Generally, they have a smaller student population with less sports, for this reason they are put into the NCAA Division 2 category.

NCAA Division III: In this division, universities do not offer athletic scholarships because they are not allowed to. Academic scholarships and financial aid based on family income can be obtained. They also have a large variety of sports equipment available.

NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)

The NAIA consists of universities that are generally smaller than those of NCAA Division I, but they still have a high academic and sport level. Eligibility rules are different from those of the NCAA with much lower requirements, for example age limit.

NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)

The NJCAA consists of universities with 2-year studies. They offer the first 2 years of general education, with the student having to transfer to a university of the other divisions in order to be able to complete their 4 year degree. The NJCAA is usually used as a platform for students to attend university in the United States, they can then use their impressive grades and athletic results to transfer to a larger university.

Types of Scholarships

American universities offer scholarships and grants to their students that cover a portion or all of the total cost. Universities may offer athletic scholarships, academic scholarships, international scholarships, grants, and student loans.

Athletic Scholarships

These scholarships are received by student athletes who are part of one of the university’s sports teams. The scholarships are usually different for each individual student athlete and they cover a percentage of university expenses – even all expenses in some cases.

The costs covered by the scholarships include: tuition and fees, books, residency, meals, and medical insurance.

In addition, all student athletes have all of the following included: training and competitions, sports equipment, travel with the team, academic tutors, sports medical assistance, and trainers.

If a student athlete receives a full athletic scholarship, all of the expenses mentioned above will be covered. For partial scholarships, a certain percentage of the total amount of expenses mentioned above will be covered.

Athletic scholarships are granted by the university coaches and they decide the scholarship percentage the student athlete will receive after evaluating the player’s sport and academic level. Depending on the division the university belongs to and the type of sport, there are a number of rules that coaches have to follow as there are a maximum number of athletic scholarships that can be awarded to each team.

Academic Scholarships

Students from any American university have the possibility to obtain various academic scholarships depending on their academic level. These scholarships depend on the type of institute, SAT and TOEFL score, or GPA if transferring to another university.

Scholarships for International Students

Many universities are interested in having international students from all over the world at their institutions. For this reason, many universities offer scholarships to students simply because they are from another country.

Possibility of Combining Scholarships

There is the possibility of combining scholarships to earn much lower university costs. Obtaining multiple scholarships would result in a higher scholarship total.

Factors that Determine the Amount of Scholarship

Academic Scholarships:

Each university has scholarship requirements and a number of different academic scholarships. The amount they provide depends on their budget, SAT score, high school GPA and TOEFL score.

Athletic Scholarships:

The athletic scholarships awarded by each university are regulated by the university division as there is a maximum amount allowed to be distributed to each sports team. Coaches have access to this budget and decide the amount of scholarship to be allocated to each team member.

The athletic amount is decided on the following: player’s sports level, results in tournaments and competitions, national and international ranking, grades in exams, level of the chosen university team, budget of the university team.