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Everything You Need to Know About Athletic Scholarships

Sep 11, 2014

If your child is participating in a high school sport, you may be able to benefit from an athletic scholarship when it is time for college. These scholarships assist students in covering part or all of their college education. The following are facts you should know if you feel your child may be able to benefit from an athletic scholarship.

What Are Athletic Scholarships?

Athletic scholarships are given to athletes because the college hopes to recruit that person to play for the college, says Danny Ruderman. Unlike local scholarships, which you need to go out and find, most athletic scholarships happen because the college has located the athlete they want to have playing sports for the school. Money is given to the athlete to cover all or part of their education.  Athletic scholarships may be full, meaning they cover everything from tuition and fees for coursework to room and board, while some may be partial athletic scholarships that cover part of the costs associated with college.

What is the Length of Coverage with Athletic Scholarships?

Many people believe athletic scholarships cover all four years of an undergraduate degree, but Susan Eiges Hansen says there really is no such thing as a four-year full ride through college. Most athletic scholarships cover one academic year. Some may be renewed, others may not. Students could lose their scholarship for underperforming academics or for injuries that might inhibit playing.

What are Shared Scholarships?

In addition to a one-year scholarships, Hansen notes some scholarships are shared. Your child may start out receiving a 50% award that, at some point, will turn into a 20% scholarship. The amount of money your child will receive with a shared scholarship will depend on how much is available and how many other athletes will be given a share of the money.

What is the Difference Between Headcount Versus Equivalency Sports Scholarships?

Hansen identifies two types of scholarships for athletes: headcount and equivalency. A headcount scholarship is one in which the athlete receives a full scholarship, while the equivalency means the athlete will share the scholarship with a number of other athletes. Football and basketball are the only two male headcount sports, while basketball, volleyball, tennis and gymnastics are headcount sports for females.

How Much Money is Available for Athletic Scholarships?

The answer to this question depends on a lot of variables, including whether the scholarship is full or partial and whether it is a headcount or equivalency sport. According to the NCAA, full one-year scholarships at an in-state college are worth about $15,000 per year while out-of-state scholarships are worth around $25,000. Remember that if the athlete is sharing the scholarship, that amount could be as low as a few thousand dollars. While any amount will assist with the cost of college, most athletes will not receive enough to cover all of the costs associated with their education.


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