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.