Football Scholarships

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If you’re one of 1,043,872 high school athletes, it’s a huge win to score a college football scholarship as reported by Scholarship Stats. As the #1 scholarship sport at the college level, football offers more full ride scholarship money than any other college sport. Each year, 898 schools who sponsor U.S. college football teams in NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 schools provide more than $3.6 billion in athletic scholarships to over 180,000 student athletes according to the NCAA. Scholarship Stats reports over 93,000 college football players, only 184 could receive a scholarship to play football. 

How Do You Get a Football Scholarship?

You typically must be recruited to receive a football scholarship from a college. There are also academic and athletic criteria that the student athlete must meet.

With respect to athletic ability, criteria vary as it is up to college coaches who they want on their roster. Football athletes should impress recruiters as well as the admissions counselor in order to receive a football scholarship. 

Coaches may only reach out to you after your sophomore year in high school. However, they could watch video reels of your school football games and check out your online profile and sports stats. So, many players get ahead of the game once they join their high school or community college football team. 

In addition, you also must meet two kinds of academic standards. The first is the unique acceptance metrics of the college you plan to attend. Second are rules for amateur athlete status in DI and DII schools set by the NCAA Eligibility Center. You need to be certified by the Center to be able to compete. Here are some of the main eligibility rules that a football student athlete must meet:

  • Be a high school graduate
  • Complete 16 core courses and receive a GPA of 2.3 or higher
  • 10 of these 16 core courses must be completed before junior year of high school
  • Submit test scores and score a minimum of 400 on the SAT (math and reading only) or 37 on the ACT
  • Core course GPA and SAT/ACT score must meet the minimum requirements as laid out by the NCAA Sliding Scale

If you meet or go above NCAA Division 1 requirements, it means you are also eligible for D2. Division 3 schools hold college football players to the same standards set by the school they enroll in. 

10 College Football Scholarships You Should Apply for in 2021

Check out these ten football scholarships and secure financial aid for college while you play for the sport you love.

  1. Michigan State University Athletic Scholarships
  2. Walter Byers Graduate Scholarship
  3. NFF National Scholar Athlete Award
  4. NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship
  5. Briar Cliff University Athletic Scholarships
  6. Jim McKay and Mike Wallace Memorial Scholarship 
  7. Sports Matter Scholarship
  8. PFLAG Football Scholarship
  9. BBB Ethical Athlete Scholarship
  10. Pinellas All Star Football Classic Scholarship

Differences between NCAA vs NAIA vs NJCAA Scholarships for Football 

If you want to pursue a football scholarship, each division has different rules, governing bodies, and member schools. The three athletic associations are NCAA, NAIA and NJCC. These organizations set the rules for how many sports scholarships schools could award in any given year. We’ve outlined some of their differences using data from Scholarship Stats

NCAA Division 1

NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is the highest level of college football and is governed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. 

D1 has 130 teams and 15,831 players. With larger budgets, these programs have 85 scholarships to hand out. All are full rides with an average amount of $24,058 in 2020. Every year a coach may provide up to 25 new scholarships. Academic scholarships and need based aid may also be available. 

NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) comprises 126 schools and has a total of 13,603 players. There’s typically a limit of 63 scholarships and the average amount is $13,769. FCS is also known for partial scholarships and students who qualify may supplement with academic scholarships and need based aid as well. 

NCAA Division 2

NCAA Division 2 is competitive but football programs at this level have 36 scholarships per team. There are 166 teams and a total of 18,836 players. The average scholarship amount is $5,838. Not all of the scholarships at this level are full rides as coaches may divide the funds to get as many quality players as possible.

NCAA Division 3

No Division 3 schools are allowed to offer sports scholarships for football. Players could still apply for other kinds of financial aid. There are 249 teams in this category and 25,442 players.


NAIA is the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. There are 96 teams and 9,950 players. NAIA football programs may offer up to 24 scholarships per team. The coach may divide these into partial scholarships to offer more players their funding.


NJCAA is the National Junior College Athletic Association. There are 60 NJCAA schools, all two year junior/community colleges and 4,834 players. There are 85 scholarships per team for a fully funded program but not all schools have the funds to offer scholarships. 

Dream of playing in the Midwest? Briar Cliff University (Iowa) athletic scholarships are available for NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NAIA and NJCAA. All future and current Chargers could be recruited to receive one. These renewable awards (given you keep up a CGPA of 20) average $9,782 and in state tuition is $30,970 as reported by Scholarship Stats.

Do you have both a 3.2 GPA and outstanding football ability as a first team player? The NFF National Scholar Athlete Awards from Fidelity Investments is one to know about. There are about 12 to 14 recipients who receive these $18,000 postgraduate scholarships. The panel considers candidates from all levels of college football.

How Many Scholarships for D1 Football and D2 Football?

Athletic Associations cap the number of scholarships for DI and DII football schools. For DI schools, the max sports scholarships awarded depend on which division the school plays in FBS or FCS. DII schools have 36 scholarships divided among as many players as the program wishes. 

Here’s the difference between D1 vs D2 football scholarships.

NCAA Division 1 football has two subdivisions. A football bowl subdivision (FBS) which has 120 member schools including Michigan and Ohio State. And a football championship subdivision (FCS) which comprises 125 schools including Ivy Leagues, Georgia Southern and Northern Iowa.

NCAA D1 – FBS is a headcount sport which means it generates revenue for the college. FBS schools could provide 85 scholarships on its roster and may sign up to 25 players per year. All 85 scholarships in FBS football are full rides.

NCAA D1 – FCS and NCAA D2 football are equivalency sports. That means FCS schools could divvy up the funds into partial scholarships. It may be that one player gets a full ride, and another student receives one to cover tuition only. They usually have a 63 scholarship limit and up to 30 incoming players each year may receive aid.

Can You Receive a Fully Funded Football Scholarship?

A fully funded or full ride scholarship for football may be available to student athletes who show outstanding ability, promise, and have the required grades to match. As a rule, these scholarships are available at NCAA Division 1 FBS schools. They tend to be for one year with some being renewable for two to four years, depending on the terms. 

When searching for football scholarships for high school seniors, you could check with the Athletic Department of the school you want to attend.

University of Notre Dame is one example. The university offers fully funded scholarships for football in average amounts of $34,327 according to Scholarship Stats. It may cover tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and personal expenses. 

Different Types of Football Scholarship Offers

When you go through the recruiting process, you may receive an offer. It’s important to know how each offer differs and what the scholarship for football.

1. Verbal Offer

A verbal offer from a coach is not a legal or binding contract. It’s when the college bound student athlete verbally agrees to play for a college before he or she signs or is eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent. This makes anything verbal a non committable offer.

2. Official Offer

An “official” offer is like a verbal offer until you sign the National Letter of Intent, or NLI.  When a student athlete officially commits to attend a Division 1 or 2 college, he or she signs a National Letter of Intent in which they agree to attend that school for one academic year. The NLI is a legal and binding contract between an athlete and the D1 or D2 school. It is both an official and committable offer. Once you sign an NLI, all other institutions must stop contacting you and your family members.

3. Committable Offer vs Non Committable Offer

Some coaches make verbal offers to many athletes at once. They do this expecting that some recruits will accept other offers and they want to cover their bases. If you receive this kind of offer you could ask the coach where you stand on the recruit list. If there are a few other players ahead of you, you may not receive a scholarship or, may receive less than expected.

4. Preferred Walk Ons 

A preferred walk on offer means that the coach would like you to play football on the team but cannot offer you any financial assistance at least for the first year. There is a possibility of a scholarship for the second year, but no guarantee. 

Can You Lose Your Football Scholarship?

Yes, it is possible to lose your football scholarship. When you receive a scholarship offer in writing, it should spell out the terms and conditions. Breaking the contract in some way could make the coach take your scholarship away. Here are a few possible scenarios: 

  • If you go from being eligible to ineligible. Reasons could include failed drug tests, falling below the required GPA and course load, visa issues for international students. Any of these could allow the coach to revoke your scholarship.
  • If you commit fraud. The scholarship agreement likely states you have to show up for practice and play on the team. Slacking off from your part of the contract could give the coach the right to withdraw your football scholarship. 
  • If you break university rules. Misconduct could include sexual assault, drinking on campus, posting inappropriate pictures on social media, or something the student handbook doesn’t allow.
  • If you quit the team. The idea of a sports scholarship is to help players pay for college given the commitment to train, practice and play. So, if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, the coach might revoke the scholarship.
  • If you fail to comply with academic standards. An athletic department, team or college may have documented policies that don’t have to do with football. Violating these rules could give the coach a reason to pull the scholarship.
  • If you get injured. A coach may find a way to get the scholarship taken away. Or may decide not to renew an injured athlete’s scholarship though the NCAA does have its rules about this scenario. 

List of Football Scholarships

Check out our list of scholarships for football players worth .

Lisa Moray Memorial Scholarship

This award is available to female high school seniors in Dutchess County New York who are involved in athletics and demonstrate leadership on and off the field.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: April 01

Sports Unlimited Scholarship

This scholarship is available for high school seniors, college freshman, and college sophomores who are active participants in any sport. To apply, students must submit an essay about an experience overcoming adversity to achieve athletic success.

Total: $1000

Awards: 2

Deadline: April 25

Meldon Law Scholar Athlete Program

This scholarship is open to high school seniors in the North Central Florida area (Columbia, Dixie, Marion, Alachua, Gilchrist, Bradford, Hamilton, Madison, Putnam, Suwanee, and Union counties). Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and be a major contributer in their sport.

Total: $167

Awards: 27

Deadline: May 01

Fisher Cats Foundation Scholarship

New Hampshire and Massachusetts graduating high school seniors are eligible for this award. Students must participate in athletics; applications will be judged on academic performance, athletic achievement, and citizenship.

Total: $2500

Awards: 12

Deadline: May 01

Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship

The Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship Program is a national program with regional recognition events. This scholarship is open to U.S. high school juniors who have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Students must participate in an individual or team sport sponsored by a school or local club.

Total: $1500

Awards: 73

Deadline: May 31

TFMJF Advancement of Women in Sports & Entertainment Scholarship

Current undergraduate women in Nevada are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Applicants must be majoring in public relations, communication, media studies, marketing or journalism and must be planning to pursue a career in sports or sports broadcasting.

Total: $4000

Awards: 4

Deadline: November 17

Daniella Altfield-Moreno Scholarship

This scholarship is available for Latino/Latina youth under age 25 with a preference for students involved in athletics and students committed to LGBT equality.

Total: $12000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 08

Violet McIntyre Scholarship

The Violet McIntyre Scholarship is available for high school seniors in Pinellas County, Florida who have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher and a demonstrated passion for writing.

Total: $2500

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 15

Pinellas All-Star Football Classic Scholarship

This scholarship is available for high school seniors in Pinellas county who play varsity football and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Total: $1000

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 15

Lynch Family Legacy Scholarship (Hillsborough)

This scholarship is available for current high school seniors residing in Hillsborough County, Florida. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and participate in a varsity sports team.

Total: $2500

Awards: 1

Deadline: January 31