As an athlete who excels in a particular sport, you may be interested in obtaining a scholarship. This is sometimes easier said than done, as scholarships are highly competitive. In fact, only about 2% of athletes are awarded scholarships each year, but it is an attainable goal with preparation and with the right athletic resume. An athlete’s resume should highlight details of their athletic career and should include achievements that set the athlete apart from others. Remember that academics also play a role in scholarship awards; colleges generally like to have student-athletes who do well both in the classroom and on the ball field. Know ahead of time what scholarships you are interested in and might be eligible for. Go early and meet with counselors and coaches; with scholarships, sooner is always better than later.
Before you apply for scholarships, you will want to research what types are available for your particular sport, and what each of these covers in terms of actual education expenditures.
Each year, money designated for scholarship awards is donated by different organizations to various colleges. These organizations include:
- National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA donates more than 1.5 billion dollars annually for scholarships, but only to Division I and Division II schools. Division III schools award scholarships based only on academics and need.
- National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which donates scholarship monies to smaller universities and colleges.
- National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). As the name suggests, the NJCAA donates money specifically to junior and community colleges for athletic scholarships.
Generally, there are two types of sports for which scholarships can be awarded: head count sports and equivalency sports. The first type, head count sports, are those that generate revenue for the college or university. Head count sports include men’s basketball and Division IA football. Basketball, tennis, volleyball, and gymnastics are common head count sports for women.
The scholarships that are awarded for head count sports are always full-ride scholarships, given only to high level athletes. Full-ride scholarships are normally granted as one-year renewable awards that automatically renew at the end of a certain period, provided that certain contract requirements have been met. Occasionally, full-ride scholarships will be multi-year awards, but this is generally only done in Division I schools.
Contrary to what the name suggests, full-ride scholarships do not actually pay expenses in full. While they do take care of a hefty portion of the student-athlete’s educational costs, there are certain things that are not covered.
Full-ride scholarships WILL cover:
- Room and Board
- Associated Fees
Full-ride scholarships WILL NOT cover:
- Parking Fees
- Lab Fees and Course Fees (over and above tuition)
- Library Fines
- Graduation Fees
- Increases in Tuition (over and above scholarship amount)
Athletes who are awarded scholarships may still be eligible for grants and financial aid (such as Pell Grant), and these aids can help with any expenses not covered by the scholarship.
The second type of sport for which scholarships are awarded are equivalency sports. Equivalency sports are any sports that do not generate revenue for the schools. Because the awarding school has the ability to divide equivalency sports scholarship funds among many different athletes, these types of scholarships may be partial-ride scholarships instead of full-ride scholarships. Partial-ride scholarships may award a particular amount of money to be used toward any educational expense of the athlete’s choosing, or they may designate specific expenses to be covered (i.e. textbooks only, tuition only, etc.).
No matter the award amount, a scholarship of any type is a blessing to an athlete hoping to pursue a college degree. Not only does it indicate dedication and excellence in their sport, but it also paves their way to a brighter future.
Sarah writes about sports for www.allpro.eu and loves watching the College Bowl games.
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