We learned about the three categories of scholarships—athletic, merit-based, and individual—in our last article. We’ll be concentrating on athletic scholarships in this piece.
The university’s athletic department administers the majority of athletic scholarships. Colleges typically set aside money to entice elite athletes. These funds or grants are available for various varieties of sports, from really well-liked ones like soccer, American football, basketball, and track racing to others like golf, fencing, swimming, and so on. Even weightlifting is eligible for scholarships from some universities; Coppin State University in Maryland is one such institution.
DIVISIONS OF ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIPS
University athletics can be broadly divided into three sections.
1. Large schools with a strong sports culture are typically linked with the first division. They give players a lot of money but want a lot of time and dedication in exchange.
2. Second division sports are primarily played by smaller schools with less funding for extensive athletics programs, but they are nonetheless played at a very high level of competition.
3. There is less competition in the third category, but players are more likely to receive supplemental scholarships rather than free rides.
In the United States, 126,000 athletes compete in Divisions I and II and get nearly $1 billion annually [source: Nitardy]. In addition, Division III sports do not offer athletic scholarships and get the least amount of support. Athletes applying to Division III institutions may receive more generous financial aid packages.
You must satisfy the age, academic, and athletic criteria established by the institution you wish to attend in order to be eligible for an athletic scholarship. Many divisions, sports, and levels of competition have different requirements. To keep your scholarship, you must also meet certain GPA requirements and finish a set amount of credits each semester.
APPLICATION AND SELECTION
A sports scholarship application process differs from other types of scholarships, in part because coaches are actively looking for new and talented athletes. Rather than waiting for applicants, coaches send out mass recruitment mailings to all-regional rankings national lists every year. Many athletes are recruited simply by writing a letter to a coach at their desired school or submitting a performance video of themselves.
However, there are numerous considerations in the selection process for an athletic scholarship. Colleges look for players who will excel academically as well as on the field. Many new athletes are forced to adjust their expectations when they realize they are no longer big fish in small ponds. It’s not uncommon for freshmen to be benched for an entire year to train while waiting for a spot on the starting line-up to open up.