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As in the world of college football, traditional basketball scholarships at the most competitive universities require a great deal of talent in the sport and the ability to catch the attention of college recruiters. Much of the funding is controlled by the NCAA, which means there is a great amount of emphasis placed on not only talent but academic records, as those awarded scholarships must meet certain GPA requirements.
For those looking for full or partial rides at the top basketball programs, players should know they need to be on the lookout for recruiters who are looking for a team that will win them championships and bring in alumni dollars. Those who want a smaller school or who may not have the skills on the court that would catch a recruiter’s eye have more options. Private organizations and local groups often place less emphasis on talent than financial need, extracurricular activities and academic records. Players then at all skill levels may find themselves eligible for awards not offered directly by the college they plan to attend.
Baseball scholarships are more plentiful than scholarships in many other sports, and players of all skill levels may find themselves eligible for a number of awards offered not only by the college they plan to attend, but by local leagues and organizations. Most of the local scholarships place some weight on financial need, extracurricular activities and academic records, but for some you only need to prove you have played on those local teams to be eligible.
Most of the larger schools have scholarship funds offered by alumni who have played on their college team, or funding dedicated to drawing talented baseball players to that college. Often coaches may be able to choose whether to divide available funding among a group to form the strongest team or give the bulk of funding to one particularly talented player that has impressed them on the field and that they would like to recruit. But don’t rule out the lesser-known funding sources, as they may be far less competitive and just as generous as awards given by your college.
Football scholarships remain one of the most competitive fields in the world of sports scholarships, but full scholarships are more common in football than in any other sport. These scholarships are heavily regulated by the NCAA, which means there is a great amount of emphasis placed on not only talent but academic record as all those awarded scholarships must meet certain GPA requirements.
Remember that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) isn’t your only option if you’re a student-athlete!
The popularity of soccer is still growing in the United States and those with talent in the field may have an easier time landing scholarships than players in the more high-visibility sports of football and basketball. Scholarship funding awarded by universities comes in the form of both full and partial scholarships so that coaches are able to put together the best team possible, and a player’s academic record is an important factor in determining his or her eligibility for those awards.
Soccer players have an advantage over athletes in the more competitive fields of having a number of outside funding sources to choose from. While the awards may not be as high as scholarships given out by colleges, players shouldn’t discount scholarship programs offered by local leagues and organizations looking to promote the sport and reward students just for playing soccer. These awards often look at more than athletic ability, taking into account financial need, extracurricular activities and academic records. Players then at all skill levels may find themselves eligible for awards not offered directly by the college they plan to attend.
Much like in baseball, softball players have a number of options to score scholarships outside of their intended college programs. Summer leagues are a particularly good source if you play in one or have played in one, and also a good place to gain exposure if you are going for a college-funded award. Many of these local scholarships look beyond talent if they consider it at all, and instead take into account academic achievements, financial need, extracurricular activities outside of softball, community service, and overall character.
Most of the larger schools also have scholarship funds offered by alumni who have played on their college team, and funding dedicated to drawing talented softball players to that college. College-based funding is regulated by an outside organization like the NCAA, so eligible players will need a minimum GPA in addition to a proven track record on the field.
Many larger schools will have recruiters aware of talent on high school football fields, and marketing your skills has become an important piece of landing a football scholarship. As a high visibility sport that is often used as a tool to raise fundraising dollars from alums, those chosen for full rides at the big universities should consider themselves part of an elite group of athletes. That said, schools where football is not a way of life and more of a premium is placed on academics, it may be easier to not only land a spot on the team but compete for scholarship money. Don’t rule out smaller schools where factors like need come in when doling out available funding.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) offers scholarships on both the Division I and Division II level. Division III level sports do not offer scholarship funding. While the association will have fewer scholarships to go around than the more expansive NCAA as there are fewer members schools, the requirements of getting onto a team and staying there at an NAIA school are less strict. NAIA schools tend to be smaller (there are nearly 300 member colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada), with many located in the Midwest.
The NAIA offers national championships for men in cross country, soccer, football, indoor and outdoor track and field, swimming and diving, wrestling, basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. Women’s national championships are offered in volleyball, soccer, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, swimming and diving, basketball, softball, tennis, and golf.
To be eligible for athletic scholarship funding from an NAIA school, students must two of the following three criteria: have a minimum ACT score of 18 or minimum SAT score of 860, have a minimum 2.0 GPA, or have graduated high school in the top half of your graduating class. Few NAIA schools will offer full ride scholarships to athletes, but partial scholarships are more common. To receive funding and to play on a team, you must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours. You’ll need to contact the athletic department of the school you’d like to attend to determine whether that school if funding the sport you’re interested in. While the NAIA may allow for a generous amount of funding per sport per school, it is up to the school to decide whether to fund scholarships in that particular sport.
If you’re planning on going to a community college and playing on a junior college sports team, you could be eligible for funding from the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), which awards full and partial scholarships, or grant-in-aid awards, to talented athletes at its 525 member colleges.
The NJCAA sponsors the following sports: fall and spring baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, fall and spring golf, ice hockey, indoor and outdoor track and field, spring and fall lacrosse, fall and spring softball, fall and spring soccer, swimming and diving, fall and spring tennis, fall and spring volleyball, and wrestling. Division I colleges may offer full scholarships, Division II colleges may only award funding for tuition, fees, and books, and Division III colleges do not award any funding for athletics.
Eligibility requirements may vary by school, so for more information about obtaining an athletic scholarship through the NJCAA at a specific community college, you will need to contact the athletic department at the school you are interested in attending.
The general requirements for prospective NJCAA student-athletes are the following: Students must be a high school graduate, have received a high school equivalency diploma, or have been certified as having passed a national test such as the General Education Development Test (GED). (Non-high school graduates can establish eligibility by completing one term of college work and passing 12 credits with a 1.75 GPA or higher.)