The Basics of Athletic Scholarships

Athletic Scholarships are a key element of many college athletes’ financial packages. A full athletic scholarship typically covers tuition, fees, room and board costs, supplies needed for course-related books as well as living expenses (the amount may differ between schools); partial athletic scholarships may only cover tuition or room and board costs.

As the goal of any student-athlete is to attend college for free on an athletic scholarship, only 1 percent actually attain it due to limited funding for sports programs and many talented students vying for those few spots available.

To obtain an athletic scholarship, a prospective student-athlete must be noticed by a coach and convinced of his/her worth as an asset to their program and success. Therefore it is vitally important for student-athletes to attend showcases or travel with club teams so coaches may see them in action and form an opinion of whether they fit.

Aspiring student-athletes should strive to ensure they possess an exceptional academic record and social media presence before being considered for scholarships by coaches. Coaches typically consider both athletic ability and academics when making scholarship decisions; some coaches may ask prospective student-athletes to join without receiving one for one season, then offer scholarships if their coach considers they add value to the team in later seasons.

All high school athletes dream of earning an athletic scholarship; however, other types of financial aid can also be obtained. Academic scholarships can be awarded based on grade point average or test score rather than athletic ability alone. Student athletes may also apply for need-based financial aid or private scholarships that supplement athletic scholarships.

Can a Student-Athlete’s Scholarship Be Taken Away? A scholarship could be taken away if coaches or schools have serious concerns regarding an athlete’s behavior off the field, their attitude or abilities. Coaches may also opt not to renew a scholarship for the following year if they are unsatisfied with performance, grades or discipline issues. Unless the scholarship is renewed, student-athletes will have to repay any money spent for their time at that institution; however, most coaches are more than happy to allow them to transfer to another one. Only in exceptional circumstances is an athletic scholarship taken back from student-athletes after signing a National Letter of Intent. Such penalties have only ever been enforced against Kentucky basketball, Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana) football and SMU football players in the past.

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