Sports scholarships can save you money on tuition, helping you afford your dream university. However, sports scholarship programs are not cut and dry. It’s important you understand the facts about sports scholarships so you can be prepared when it’s time to apply for college. Here are five crucial things you need to know:
1. There are only six Division I sports that offer full-ride scholarships including football, men’s and women's basketball, women's gymnastics, women’s volleyball, and women’s tennis. If you play any other sport, even if you are incredibly talented, you will probably not have your entire tuition paid. Pick your main sport wisely.
2. The average amount of sports scholarships (http://www.scholarshipstats.com/average-per-athlete.html) is only $11,262. Depending on the sport, the figure can be even less. With the average cost of university tuition ranging from $9,410-$32,405 a year (http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064), you may come up short. Plus, the number of scholarships for Division I and II schools allowed by the NCAA and NAIA is limited. As a result, coaches often split up the awards so that they can recruit more players. Split rewards mean less money for your tuition. So you may have to look into other forms of funding like grants, loans, and academic scholarships.
3. Though not as glamorous as Division I and II schools, Division III schools tend to award more money through merit programs. If you are looking to pay for school, rather than become a career athlete, you may be better off focusing on Division III schools where the awards are bigger.
4. Scholarships do not have to be renewed. Even if you perform great on the field, excel in class, and do everything right, the university is under no obligation to renew your scholarship every year. You should always have a backup plan in place to finance your tuition in case this happens.
5. To get a sport scholarship, you’ll need to get the attention of a coach. Sports scholarships are highly competitive, so it’s rare that coaches will seek out potential awardees. Instead, you need to be proactive and reach out to them. Contact potential coaches them through email and phone calls, prepare a highlight reel to showcase your talents, and consider summer camps for extra exposure. The more actively you chase a sport scholarship, the more likely you will receive one.
So before relying on a sport scholarship, consider the challenges of the awards system. Sports scholarships are hard to earn, may not provide enough money for tuition, and can be cancelled. This is why it is crucial that you also maintain good grades and get great scores on your entrance exams so you can also qualify for academic scholarships. Understanding how this system works can help you.