What is an Athletic Scholarship for College? (Can My Kid get One)

What are Athletic Scholarships for College

A great way to get into college and help with the cost is to go as a student-athlete. There are so many benefits of being a student-athlete.

The first thing to understand is the difference between divisions and what that means for scholarships.

Division I is the biggest division and the divisions go down from there.

The higher the division, the more scholarships they are going to hand out.

Division I and II schools are known for giving out large athletic scholarships.

Division III schools are able to hand out scholarships to athletes, however, they are not known as athletic scholarships.

They are not allowed to give students free tuition or more money because they are an athlete.

The college will usually find other ways to give you money so you can play sports and go to school.

Sometimes they will give you a gift scholarship.

Student Athlete Sport Options

You can get a student-athlete scholarship for almost anything. There are so many different sports that are played in college.

You can even get money to be on a dance team or be a gymnast at different colleges and universities.

There are 6 sports at the collegiate level where all the scholarships are full ride.

  • Mens football
  • Men’s basketball
  • Women’s basketball
  • Women’s gymnastics
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis

In Division I the athletes for these sports either receive a full ride to school or they get nothing.

Table: Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for men

Gymnastics1,995101 20:1 
Fencing2,18999 22:1 
Ice Hockey35,393981 36:1 
Football1,122,02425,918 43:1 
Golf152,6472,998 51:1 
Skiing – alpine5,593107 52:1 
Rifle2,66847 57:1 
Basketball541,0549,504 57:1 
Baseball482,6298,062 60:1 
Soccer417,4196,152 68:1 
Swimming & diving138,3731,994 69:1 
Tennis191,0042,417 79:1 
Lacrosse106,7201,251 85:1 
Cross country252,5472,722 93:1 
Track & field 653,9715,930 110:1 
Water polo21,451126 170:1 
Wrestling269,5141,530 176:1 
Volleyball52,149294 177:1 

Table: Odds of getting an athletic scholarship for women

Ice hockey9,15061215:1
Swimming & diving165,7793,55047:1
Field hockey61,4711,11955:1
Water Polo18,89934455:1
Cross country218,1213,81757:1
Track & Field 545,0118,53664:1

Only institutions in the NCAA’s Division I and Division II offer athletic scholarships. 

The other college sports in Division I and II can just divide their scholarships up to give the student athlete a partial scholarship.

In Division I baseball teams may divide the scholarships up into 25 to 27 partial scholarships instead of giving full scholarships to 11 or 12 players.

The approach for dividing scholarships vary widely by school.

Time and Dedication

However, it is important to realize how much time and dedication is put into being a student-athlete.

On top of having to do all of your academic coursework and outside clubs and activities, you were going to have hours and hours of practice every single week.

Do not try to be an athlete in college just for the money, because it will end up backfiring on you in the end.

You could lose the scholarship at your dream school and not be able to go.

My older brother’s best friend got a complete football scholarship to play at Cornell.

After a serious knee injury that did not allow him to play again, he lost his entire scholarship and was no longer able to attend.

This is the true reality of what could happen so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. It is an amazing opportunity, it is just important to know all of the different outcomes.

How do you get an athletic scholarship?

In order to get an athletic scholarship at a college or university, you have to become a college athlete.

You need to be incredible just not at your school but in the whole county or state. Only about 2% of high school athletes get athletic scholarships to play in college.

Today’s teens are faster, stronger and more athletic than many teens just 10 to 20 years ago. You need to train everyday on your own and dedicate yourself to being the best at that sport.

You will need to play that sport all year long to get good enough to play collegiate sports.

Many kids and teens will play fall and spring. I know kids that play on club teams and they play the entire year.

The states with winter you may do indoor training or games but with today’s setup up most kids can play that sport the entire year.

All that you can do is try your best and see what recruiters reach out to you.

Each sport there are websites that you can become a part of to show off your skills.

One example, many high school football players have their highlight reels on Hudl.

Top recruiting websites for college athletes



Custom College Recruiting

Captain U

College Soccer Exposure

National Scouting Report


The athletes who receive athletic scholarships are normally going to be the most gifted athletes.

You need to get your name out their to the coaches and Universities where you think you want to play. Send the coach a highlight video or email them your videos that you posted on YouTube.

It’s your job to sell your skills so do not wait for recruiters to come to you.

If you are just average at a sport in high school, then you are probably not gonna be chosen to play in college or get a scholarship.

This is for people who dedicate their lives to their sport.

What is an athletic scholarship?

An athletic scholarship is financial aid that may be full or partial to a student-athlete to play sports for their college.

College’s want the best athletes to come to their school to play sports.

They are willing to give you money off of your tuition because of your gift and talent.

Athletic scholarships are normally all about the talent, but the income of your family and the financial need may play a part.

There are some rules that go along with athletic scholarships, just like anything else. You should be familiar with what you can or cannot do if you get a scholarship for sports. You can go to the NCAA website to learn more.

Some of them are going to have GPA requirement and other things as well.

Scholarships can also be taken away if you no longer play the sport or if you get injured.

What is the average scholarship amount for athletes?

Normally, for any sport that you were going to play in college, the average scholarship that you will be given a $10,400 per year.

This is a very large amount of money and can make a huge difference in your overall amount of loans that you have to take out.

Most state schools are only around $20-$30,000 a year so this means it could be paying for half or even a third of your tuition.

Sometimes, private schools will give more money because of the fact of their tuition is higher as well.

It is also important to understand that you can get a full ride scholarship to play sports at colleges and universities. This is a huge honor and opportunity to play this or that you love while attending college and getting a degree for free.

What sports get full scholarships?

I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that the most common sport to get a full ride scholarship is football.

Football is the most popular sport within the United States of America, and players in the NFL make more money than the president of the United States of America.

Men’s basketball and baseball also have some of the highest rates of giving out scholarships to players.

The next most common in women’s basketball.

We did mention above the top 6 sports for getting a full ride.

What are the GPA requirements for college athletes?

The minimum requirement for GPA is going to depend on what level you fall in with the NCAA.

There are different requirements for the GPA and SAT scores of players depending on what division you are in.

For Division I, you are required to have a 2.3 GPA and a 900 SAT score.

The standards are set below the average GPA and SAT scores of students in America.

This means that you should be able to play no matter what your GPA and test scores are, as long as your college allows you to.

Some colleges will bring in players that have lower grades than the rest of the students, while other schools require you to be at the academic level of the other students.

Division II requires a GPA of 2.2 and an SAT score of 840.

How can you lose a scholarship

There are many different ways that you can lose an athletic scholarship.

You could actually end up losing your scholarship in high school before you even got to attend college in the first place.

If you are arrested or are caught doing anything illegal for any reason, the school has the right to take away your scholarship.

They honestly have the right to deny your acceptance. You get caught with a picture on a social media website with alcohol or illegal drugs and substances your scholarship can be taken away.

Once you are in school, there are also several other ways that you could lose your scholarship.

If you do not follow the GPA requirements and test well on the SAT, they are legally allowed to take away your scholarship.

If it says in the original contract of the scholarship, that they are allowed to pull the scholarship if you’re not playing the sport anymore.

Basically, as long as you keep your grades up, follow the rules, and don’t get yourself in any trouble then you should successfully be able to keep the scholarship.

Play more than one sport

You need to play multiple sports even though earlier we said most kids just focus on one sport to get really good.

Tracking Football had determined that 222 of the 253 players selected for the 2017 NFL draft played more than one sport in high school.

The chances of you kid getting a scholarship or making it pro is low so why not let the kids have fun by playing other sports.

Many kids nowadays are getting burned out just play one sport 12 months out of the year.

Athletic scholarships compared to academic

There is one thing you need to know when chasing an athletic scholarship.

The total college scholarship pool for athletics is around $3.3 billion. That is a lot of money for kids to go to school.

Getting an academic scholarship is where the money is at when going to college. The Education Department has upward of $13 billion to give in academic scholarships. That is nearly 4 times athletic scholarships.


Overall, there are many great things about being a college athlete and being able to get a college athletic scholarship.

However, it is once again important to realize the amount of time and dedication that you were going to have to put in.

If you are relying on a scholarship, then you don’t want to end up wanting to quit the sport after one or two semesters.

It is also important to understand that it puts a strain on your schooling and you may have to stay in college longer if you do fewer credit hours.

It is definitely worth it in the long run and an amazing opportunity, as long as you know what you’re getting yourself into.

If you are not sure if you want to play varsity sports check out should I play varsity or intramural sports.

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