College Athletic Elgibility

Most colleges and universities have intercollegiate athletic programs. These programs are overseen by one of the nation's three major athletic associations:

NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)
NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)
NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)

Of schools with a NCAA affiliation, only Division I and Division II schools may offer athletic scholarships. Division III schools are precluded from offering athletic scholarships.

Money for athletic scholarships comes to the school's athletic department from sources such as spectator fees, privately-raised booster donations, and fund raising activities. The school's athletic department divides its scholarship dollars among the different sports. Each sport's coach then decides how to give this money as scholarship--whether to give full scholarships to a few athletes, or to give fewer full scholarships and several partial scholarships.

Female students should be aware that federal law requires athletic scholarships be distributed in an equitable fashion among the sexes.

A full athletic scholarship covers tuition and fees, room and board (based on dormitory rates), and a book allowance. A partial scholarship can be any percentage of a full scholarship.

An athletic scholarship is for one year only; it is not automatically renewed. The school's and/or athletic association's policies regarding lack of academic progress, substance abuse, or other factors sometimes lead to loss or reduction of scholarship money. Only in rare cases does an athletic scholarship recipient lose his/her scholarship due to poor athletic performance.

The major athletic associations may have restrictions concerning student athletes earning money while attending school on a full-athletic scholarship. Students should ask how part-time employment will affect their scholarship.


The NCAA websie contains a summary of the rules and regulations for athletes. It also has guidelines about recruiting, eligibility, financial aid, and college freshman eligibility requirements for Divisions I and II schools.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association
Phone: 317.917.6222

Or contact:

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
Phone: 816.595.8000

Or contact:

National Junior College Athletic Association
NJCAA National Office
Phone: 719.590.9788

Student Athlete Alternative Scholarships