How does financial aid work for prospective athletes?

College Search

Our counselors answered:

How does financial aid work for prospective athletes?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How does financial aid work for prospective athletes?

They can get an academic or, depending on the college, an athletic scholarship. Be sure to join the NCAA Clearinghouse so qualify. There are also private athletic scholarships students can qualify for, and the list is endless.

Scott Herrmann-Keeling
College Counselor

How does financial aid work for prospective athletes?

There are two types of financial aid for prospective athletes (and for anyone else, for that matter): need-based aid, and merit-based aid. Need-based aid depends on a family's ability to pay. Some schools have discretion in how they award need-based aid and may find ways to award larger financial aid packages to families of prospective athletes even if the school doesn't technically award merit-based aid for athletic purposes. Most financial aid specifically for athletes, though, is merit-based. It can come in the form of an athletic scholarship or a different type of scholarship. Most athletic departments at the NCAA Division I and II level have a certain number of scholarships to award. They apportion these scholarships among their different sports. Some coaches may choose to break their scholarships into pieces and award four different athletes 1/4 of a scholarship each or two different athletes 1/2 of a scholarship. It's actually quite rare for a student-athlete to receive a full scholarship to play a sport in college.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

How does financial aid work for prospective athletes?

The financial aid process works the same for prospective athletes as it does for all other prospective students; it is the scholarship process that differs. Prospective athletes, like prospective academic scholarship candidates, need to determine what each university is likely to offer. Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships. Division I and II institutions may offer full or partial scholarships and the remaining balance is what a student may need additional financial aid to cover. Recent (2012) NCAA policies require university athletic departments to clearly explain scholarship amounts and duration. As with all money matters, families need to understand the process and ask a lot of questions before making a final decision.