Athletic Scholarships

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What is an Athletic Scholarship?

An athletic scholarship is a kind of merit award for students who excel at their sport. In 2018 to 2019, U.S. colleges with varsity athletic programs awarded almost $4.1 billion in athletic scholarships.

The aim of athletic scholarships is to offset the costs of a college degree. They also help schools recruit talent for their sports teams.

Because each division sets rules about athletic department funding, award amounts vary. Some are full tuition awards while others may provide partial financial aid. Financial aid may be available to those who qualify.

10 Athletic Scholarships for Student Athletes in 2021

  1. Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program
  2. The New York Ramblers Scholarship for Student Athletes
  3. Craig M. Epstein Memorial Scholarship Fund
  4. Triple Impact Competitor Scholarship
  5. Lee Brennan Memorial Scholarship
  6. Norma and Rita Nussbickel Memorial Scholarship
  7. Sean Callahan Memorial Scholarship Fund
  8. Coach Wade Pittsford Scholarship
  9. Big Sun Scholarship
  10. Mike Frick Memorial Baseball Scholarship

How Do Eligible Athletes Receive an Athletic Scholarship?

In some cases, once eligible, a student must apply for an athletic scholarship. But other times, a coach must recruit the applicant first.

About 1 in 14 high school athletes went on to play a varsity sport in college back in 2018. And 1 in 54 went on to play at NCAA Division I schools.

To boost your odds of getting an athletic scholarship, it might be useful to take an active role early on. Here are a few tips to think about that may help recruiting coaches find you.

Sports Scholarship Eligibility Checklist

  1. Figure out Which Division Sport You Want to Play: To do this, some student athletes use the recruitment services of an agency. Using this type of service may be a useful way to understand what skills you have. And, which division level lines up with your sports talent.
  2. Make Sure Your Eligibility is in Order: To be eligible to play your sport in college, you must meet some criteria. Once you know the division you want to join, you must register. Meeting their standards could help show coaches you are ready to play. But you may still have to impress a school and meet their entrance criteria.
  3. Research Schools in Your Chosen Division: Once you have a clearer idea of these skills, the next step is to research schools. Create a list of about 50 schools you want to apply to. You may want to sort them by location, academics, athletics and culture.
  4. Put an Athletic Resume Together: As you do this, you could also gather a list of the coaches’ names and emails. Compile a standout athletic resume about your performance stats, awards, academic transcripts, and ACT/SAT scores. You may also do a video to showcase your skills so the coach can evaluate you.
  5. Make Contact with Coaches: Instead of sending a mass email, you might consider using a personal approach. You could could write a captivating subject line. Put your name, position, grade level and a key stat. Then tell each coach what draws you to their school.
  6. See What Scholarship Offers You Might Qualify For: Making it through the recruiting funnel may yield results. If so, you may get an offer of financial aid. Some schools may lack the budget to offer a huge athletic scholarship. To make up the difference, they might offer merit scholarships.

What is the Difference between a Full Ride vs Partial Athletic Scholarship?

Full ride athletic scholarships and partial scholarships may be offered for different sports. They are also distinct as far as what expenses they cover. A full ride athletic scholarship pays the entire cost of attendance. It covers the cost of tuition, mandatory fees, room, board, and books. It may renew for four years, or be a one year contract.

There are six sports that you may receive full ride scholarships.

  1. Football
  2. Men’s Basketball
  3. Women’s Basketball
  4. Volleyball
  5. Women’s Gymnastics
  6. Tennis

In these sports, coaches might have a budget of scholarship money they may divide up among their team. They may offer one student athlete a scholarship that pays for tuition. On the other hand, a teammate may get an offer that covers only the cost of books.

Why Student Athletes Should Apply for a Sports Scholarship?

A sports scholarship may be useful if your goal is to pursue a four year degree. Affordability, less dependence on loans, and sportsmanship are a few reasons to apply for a sports scholarship.

  • Affordability. An undergrad degree may be an expensive feat. Using the latest NCES data, the average cost for new undergrads living on campus at public college is $24,900. It’s higher at private for profit ($33,200) and private nonprofit ($51,900) schools. You may be able to use a sports scholarship with other forms of aid like gov’t grants too
  • Lessen Dependence on Loans. No one knows but you if you will leave college with student debt. But unlike a loan,scholarship money typically does not need to be repaid. If you abide by the terms, you don’t pay the money back.
  • Sportsmanship Looks Good. Many scholarship committees look at applicants from all sides. You may not have the talent that recruits you to the major leagues. But if you take part in a sport, it could show judges you have discipline. Add solid grades and a history of being a ‘good sport’, and you might have an even better shot at a scholarship

Which Sports Have Athletic Scholarships?

There are athletic scholarships for a wide range of sports. Football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and ice hockey are a few sports that athletes may receive athletic college scholarships. Here is a closer look at five sports scholarships.

Football Scholarships

Pinellas All Star Football Classic Scholarship: These awards range from $500 to $5,000 and may renew. Eligible senior students in the Pinellas County Public High School system may apply. Students only need to fill out one application to match their needs and future interests. To start the process, you must register to set up an account.

Basketball Scholarships

Irv Noll Memorial Scholarship Fund: This annual one time award of $400 is from Berks County Community Foundation. It is for eligible high school seniors in Berks County, PA. To qualify, you must have a 2.5 GPA, and show qualities like kindness and sportsmanship. You must also intend to go to college and have played high school basketball, golf or baseball for at least 2 years.

Baseball Scholarships

David M Bohr Memorial Baseball Scholarship: This one time $500 award is from the Community Foundation of North Central Washington. It is open to eligible high school seniors at NCW approved high schools. To qualify, you must also take part in baseball, have a 2.0 GPA and show financial need.

Soccer Scholarships

Bryan Cline Memorial Soccer Scholarship Program: The Albuquerque Community Foundation offers two annual awards of $800 each. They are available to Eldorado High School soccer team graduating seniors. One male, and one female. To apply, you need to name your varsity soccer team coach and provide two reference letters. You must also show you attend a college as a full time student.

Ice Hockey Scholarships

Maynard and Ferne Brownell Scholarship: The Community Foundations of Hudson Valley offers an annual scholarship of $750. It is for eligible high school seniors at Beacon HS, John Jay HS or Roy C. Ketcham High School. You do not need to play hockey to qualify. But applicants must take part in school sports and or community service projects. Along with a complete form, you must submit transcripts, an essay, resume, copy of SAR report and two reference letters.

What Colleges Offer Athletic Scholarships?

Many colleges offer athletic scholarships for incoming student athletes. UNC Chapel Hill, Stanford, and UCLA are some universities  that may offer sports scholarships.

UNC Chapel Hill is a school with 19,117 undergrads and 28 varsity teams. The campus also has intramural sports, sport clubs and athletic facilities. There are various UNC scholarships for eligible applicants.

Stanford is a school that serves 7,087 undergrads. The school has over 22 varsity teams (including the Cardinals). Some Stanford athletes may qualify for full ride scholarships. Full rides may pay tuition, fees, room, board, textbooks, and residence hall dues. Apart from these, there may be academic scholarships. Many CA residents may qualify for the Cal Grant Program as well.

UCLA is a school with 31,577 undergrads and 21 major varsity teams. UCLA created the Jackie Robinson Centennial Scholars Endowed Scholarships. The award is for male student athletes in track and field, baseball, football, and basketball. There are also a range of need and merit based scholarships open to eligible students. UCLA students including DACA students may qualify.

Are there Scholarships for Female Athletes?

There are many sources of scholarships for female athletes. Women now make up about 44% of student athletes at NCAA schools. And, women’s NCAA teams now make up 54% of NCAA teams.

Women may receive athletic scholarships for the following sports:

  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Track and field
  • Cross country

That is not to say there aren’t other sports with such awards. And some providers may not expect you to play sports in college. They may offer awards to help you study a field related to sports too.

Each year, Hawaii Community Foundation offers the Jean Fitzgerald Scholarship. There are two $3,500 awards to honor Jean Fitzgerald. Jean was an active tennis player and also believed higher education is crucial. The program is open to eligible female Hawaii residents who show financial need. Applicants must also have a 2.7 GPA, be active tennis players and attend an accredited U.S. school full time.

Each year, the Floyd Mayweather Jr. Foundation offers the TFMJF Advancement of Women in Sports and Entertainment Scholarship. There are four need based awards of $1,000 each. The aim of the program is to bring more diversity to fields where women are in the minority. Eligible applicants are female undergrad or grad students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Applicants must also have a 2.75 GPA. Full time students who major in, or want to work in, the entertainment / sports industry may apply.

Can an Athletic Scholarship be Taken Away?

There are a few scenarios that may cause a student athlete to lose their athletic scholarship. Two main reasons to lose an athletic scholarship are non renewals and sports injury.

  1. The Scholarship Does Not Renew: Non renewals happen for many reasons. The current coach could leave or the student athlete gets in trouble. Many schools also set standards for grades and sportsmanship. So, any sub standard performance may put your scholarship in jeopardy.
  2. Sports Injury: An injury might sideline a player and their athletic scholarship. While academic scholarships tend to be more secure even if you stop playing, as long as you keep your grades up, the funds stay in place. However, this may not always be the case.

List of Athletic Scholarships

Check out our list of athletic scholarships below. We have 972 awards worth $4M.

All Sports Scholarships

This list combines all scholarships for student athletes. For most scholarships you can qualify if you participate in any sport at your school, while other awards may require you to play a specific sport. Start your search here to find an athletic scholarship today.


Archery Scholarships

An archery scholarship is financial aid that you don't repay. If you plan to compete in college archery, you may be able to apply. Archery is one of the oldest arts but is not an official sport of the NCAA or NAIA. Back in the Stone Age, the archer's bow and arrow was a tool for hunters and in combat.

TOTAL: $101K

Baseball Scholarships

This great American pastime can help you earn free money for college. If you play baseball for your high school or a local league, you may be eligible for several different college baseball scholarships. Don’t “strike out” on your opportunity at free money for college. Check out our full list of baseball scholarships and apply online.

TOTAL: $682K

Basketball Scholarships

Take your college funding to new heights with these basketball scholarships. Athletes who play basketball have hundreds of options available — from NCAA to privately-funded athletic scholarships. The competition is high, so apply to as many basketball scholarships as possible! Start your search in this directory and apply online.

TOTAL: $626K

Bowling Scholarships

Do you want to "strike" it rich? Bowlers have the opportunity to earn some "spare" money for college with these bowling scholarships. Discover all of the available awards for students who participate in sanctioned bowling leagues with this directory of scholarships for bowlers.

TOTAL: $444K

Cheerleading Scholarships

Do you have spirit? We have scholarships! Cheerleading scholarships for college are a surefire way to get you pumped for school. This unique sport is sometimes overlooked, but there are plenty of schools that recognize these talented athletes. Help your school’s pride and tradition live on and start the search for cheerleading scholarships in our directory.

TOTAL: $597K

Cross Country Scholarships

If you are a cross country runner, you know the importance of endurance and long-term goals — and that applies to college. There are many cross country scholarships available to athletes who run on high school track teams to help them pay for college. Check out our list of cross country scholarships and discover the free college money waiting for you!

TOTAL: $656K

Fencing Scholarships

The unique skill of fencing can help add dollars to your college savings. Although this sport isn’t offered at many colleges, there are various scholarship opportunities from leagues and associations. Get an attack on fencing scholarships and check out our directory of awards.

TOTAL: $517K

Field Hockey Scholarships

Looking to continue your athletic career in field hockey in college? Whether it’s for a varsity university team, recreational club, or intramural group, there are field hockey scholarships available to players of all skill levels. Check out our directory of scholarships for field hockey players and apply online.

TOTAL: $611K

Football Scholarships

Scholarships to play college football are some of the most prestigious and sought-after athletic scholarships. They also happen to be one of the more competitive ways to find funding for college. If you play football for your high school team, check out our list of football scholarships that can help you tackle your search to pay for college.

TOTAL: $641K

Golf Scholarships

If you can get on the green, you may be eligible to get some green! Golf scholarships are a great way to help keep your college funds up to par. Finding golf scholarships may even be easier than hitting a tiny ball into a hole 500 yards away — you just have to know where to look. Our directory of golf scholarships is the perfect place to start your search for free college dollars.

TOTAL: $756K

Gymnastics Scholarships

Gymnasts will "flip" over this scholarship directory! The sport of gymnastics is a competitive one that requires hard work and a high level of talent. Not only do gymnasts need to compete for a spot on a school’s team — but also for scholarships. If you’re a gymnast looking to increase your school savings, start your search for gymnastic scholarships here and begin adding dollars to your college funds.

TOTAL: $589K

Ice Hockey Scholarships

Ice hockey may be well known as an aggressive and competitive sport, but did you also know that there are several ice hockey scholarships available to players? That’s right, and if you play ice hockey at your high school or for a local club or league, there may be free college dollars waiting for you. Check out this directory for some cool ice hockey scholarships.

TOTAL: $587K

Lacrosse Scholarships

Lacrosse is a sport with a lot of history – and scholarship opportunities. This tough sport could make it a little easier to pay for your college tuition with lacrosse scholarships. If you play lacrosse for your high school or a local league, check out this directory for ways to find athletic scholarships.

TOTAL: $612K

Rifle Scholarships

Hit the mark with these scholarship opportunities for marksmen. If you have an interest in riflery and plan to continue the sport on the college level or as a hobby, there may be rifle scholarships available to you to help pay for college. Get your target funding and apply to these rifle scholarships today!

TOTAL: $309K

Rowing Scholarships

Just like each stroke gets you closer to the finish line, each scholarship you apply for gets you closer to paying for college. Male and female athletes that participate on a crew team have many sports scholarship options available to them. If you’re a rowing crew member, check out these rowing scholarships and "sweep" up the free money.

TOTAL: $648K

Sailing Scholarships

Set sail for college with these scholarships for sailors. If you plan to participate on a college varsity sailboat racing team, check out these sailing scholarships to help you pay for school. There’s no need to go “overboard” in debt with this list of scholarships for sailors.

TOTAL: $617K

Skiing and Snowboarding Scholarships

Need a lift to find some great scholarships for skiers and snowboarders? If you have a passion for winter sports, you can turn skiing and snowboarding in to college dollars. Some of the best ski colleges are found in the mountains, but some of the best scholarships can be found right here in our skiing and snowboarding scholarship directory.


Soccer Scholarships

The growing popularity of this sport means that there are even more opportunities for players to find soccer scholarships. Whether you call it “football” or “soccer,” there are hundreds of sports scholarships for college available to these athletes. If you’re a soccer player looking to score some money for college, kick back, check out this directory of scholarships for soccer players.


Softball Scholarships

Similar to baseball, softball players also have several opportunities to earn college money in these softball scholarships. High school teams and local leagues can help athletes gain exposure as well as qualify them for a softball scholarship. Score a home run with your college funding, and browse our directory of softball scholarships today.

TOTAL: $615K

Swimming Scholarships

Dive in to these swimming scholarships for a chance to earn some free college money. If you love the water, your time in the pool can really pay off. This directory of swimming scholarships is a great place to start. The extra money you earn could help you do more than just stay afloat with your college finances.

TOTAL: $659K

Tennis Scholarships

If you have a love for the game, utilize it to help you get tennis scholarships for college. Both singles and doubles tennis players have the opportunity to add to their educational finances with these sports scholarships. Put your college funds at an advantage with this list of scholarships for tennis players.

TOTAL: $673K

Track and Field Scholarships

Similar to cross country runners, athletes that participate in track and field also have many scholarships available to them. As an athlete in track and field, you don’t necessarily need to be a runner. There are also scholarships available to participants in events like the javelin, shot-put, and high jump. So, whether you prefer to jump or sprint, check out these track and field scholarships to find free college dollars.

TOTAL: $645K

Volleyball Scholarships

Looking for volleyball scholarships? Think of us as your setter, giving you the perfect opportunity to spike these scholarship dollars into your college fund. Whether you plan to play for a college team or at the intramural level, you may be eligible to apply for these volleyball scholarships. Start your search and see the free money for college just waiting for you to claim.

TOTAL: $601K

Wrestling Scholarships

No need to "grapple" with your education finances. Wrestlers have several options to win free college dollars. If you are on your school’s wrestling team and plan to participate in the collegiate level, you may be eligible for wrestling scholarships offered by universities and outside organizations. Pin down some great awards in this directory of wrestling scholarships.

TOTAL: $602K