By Anicia Wood – College Sports Recruiting Consultant
Going to college and university is not cheap, it is an investment that many repay throughout their lifetimes. Receiving a scholarship for any prospective college student and their family is a dream come through. According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), more than 150,000 student-athletes receive around $2.9 billion in athletic scholarships in the NCAA Divisions 1 and 2 each year. Although this figure appears to be large, being one of the 150,000 to get a piece of the $2.9 billion pie is quite rare, considering the large population of scholarship hopefuls from across the world. There are many misconceptions about scholarships; that is the type of scholarships, how scholarship offers work, and how much aid student-athletes receive, just to name a few. College isn’t cheap, therefore understanding the details is very important if you are looking to lessen your college costs. So, let’s put it all into perspective…let’s talk the truth about athletic scholarships.
There is a common misconception that Canadian institutions do not offer athletic scholarships however, this is not true! They are not as highly publicized as those offered in the USA, however financial awards are available to athletes. Unlike the American institutions these awards are limited to tuition and compulsory fees which is the maximum amount an athlete can receive, and this of course varies from institution to institution based on their respective costs.
Many prospective college-bound student-athletes if asked would often opt for an athletic scholarship to compete in the USA collegiate circuit as opposed to Canada, as the level of play is typically higher across most sports, along with the fact the scholarship money is usually more. What most fail to understand is, the cost of tuition at Canadian Institutions are much cheaper than the cost of tuition at American institutions. This means, even if you were to receive an athletic scholarship to compete at an American university, you probably would end up paying less by taking the scholarship to compete at an institution in Canada. You may ask - if I am receiving a scholarship why would I have to worry about paying less? One of the biggest misconceptions is that if a student-athlete receives a scholarship it would be a full-ride, meaning one which covers all college-related expenses. This is not true! Receiving an athletic scholarship is reliant on many factors, some of which depend on the sport, the number, and type of scholarships available to a particular sport, and of course the skill level of the athlete both athletically and academically.
Another misconception is that many athletes assume once they receive a scholarship they will be covered for their duration at the institution. NCAA athletic scholarships are typically yearly contracts that must be renewed every year, and this is at the digression of the coach. If an athlete becomes injured, depending on the institution and whether the injury happened outside of games or practice, the scholarship can be taken away. Coaches can decide not to renew a scholarship for the upcoming year, which can come as a surprise to some student-athletes. Non-renewals can happen for other reasons, including if the coach who recruited the athlete leaves the program and a new coach joins and has no interest in retaining an athlete. Additionally, according to the NCAA, scholarships can be canceled at the end of or during the award period if the student-athlete becomes ineligible, commits fraud, engages in misconduct on or off the field, or quits the team for personal reasons.
This brings me to the concept of ineligibility. To receive a scholarship to any institution, student-athletes must meet certain eligibility requirements. To be admitted to any school, you must gain academic admission first. If an athlete is athletically talented and is receiving several scholarships offers but does not meet the academic requirements, he/ she would not be able to receive the athletic scholarship. Most institutions require the student-athlete to meet minimum academic standards and be considered an amateur athlete. On the flip side just because you meet the minimum academic requirements for the school you want to play doesn’t mean you will receive a scholarship, but your chances for an offer increase when your academics are in good standing. Athletes when you receive an athletic scholarship, it doesn’t end there. You must maintain good academic standing when you are enrolled to maintain your athletic scholarship. This is an ongoing process that is dependent on your academic standing. Do not think because you are performing on the court, you are okay; you must be equally performing in the classroom. Remember you are a student-athlete, ‘student’ comes first. If you are not eligible to compete for any reason, poor academics, not in good standing with the school, etc. a coach is not likely to keep you on scholarship.
As mentioned throughout this blog, scholarships are offered at different levels, so don’t be deterred if you aren’t receiving offers from NCAA Division 1 institutions. You don’t need to be performing at NCAA Division 1 level to receive a scholarship. Although NCAA Division 1 schools may be among the most prominent ones to offer athletic scholarships, talented student-athletes can look to Division 2, NAIA, Canadian universities, and junior colleges for scholarship offers. You must be realistic, you might have a better chance of receiving scholarship funding from schools that match your talent level!
This blog is by no means to deter you from trying to gain an athletic scholarship, but really to inform you of the truth about scholarships so you can be better prepared!
The Student Centre and Carib Athletes have collaborated to deliver college and university prep support services to athletes in various sports. The collaboration is in response to the growing demand among competitive athletes across a wide range of sports seeking to enter college and university based on their talents. We take the guess work out of college prep!
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Lead advisor at The Student Centre, who is dedicated to making CAREER SENSE out of higher education.
College Recruiting Consultant at Carib Athletes, who is dedicated to guiding Caribbean Athletes to college/university sport programs to fulfil their dreams through competitive sport and education.
Dr. Elizabeth Adey
I am passionate about education and the opportunities I believe it creates for people and the wider society. Education opens doors and facilitates change.
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