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Sports Scholarships

Traditional athletic scholarships are more competitive than other categories, and it isn’t easy to be recruited as the top athlete at your dream college. The level of competition varies dramatically by sport, with the more high-visibility fields like football and basketball being harder to break into and land a full ride. For those willing to do a little more research, there are resources outside of approaching your intended college where you might find you’re eligible for a generous amount of funding.

For the Serious Athlete

Athletes pay the most attention to scholarships offered by their intended college, and award value increases if you have more skill, rank, and desirable athletic qualities. These students should be actively contacting coaches at the schools they’re interested in, as even the best athletes can be overlooked if they don’t market themselves well. Make yourself a portfolio, or your own highlight reel. If there are newspaper clippings of your achievements, submit those to colleges. The easiest way to become organized is to make a list of schools you’re interested in and start with a college search; don’t sell yourself short, but be open to possibilities at smaller schools and those outside of the top tier Division I athletics. Be mindful also of what’s expected of you to be eligible for those top prizes. Scholarships offered by colleges will be run by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics(NAIA) or the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), all require a set, minimum GPA before handing out scholarsjip money to athletes. NCAA scholarships, and internships in particular are the most well-known and sought after opportunities. You’ll also need to maintain a decent GPA to keep your award and your spot on the team, so your work isn’t over even if you do score a coveted place on your dream team.

For More Creative Options

Landing an athletic scholarship isn’t all about being the best basketball player, wrestler or bowler on your high school team anymore. There are many awards available for athletes who play not to make a career of a sport, but because they enjoy the game. Local leagues and organizations in sports like baseball and golf, for example, offer many scholarships just for playing on a team, no matter how good you are. Sure, it helps to be talented in a given area, but if you’re not cut out for the lifestyle required to make yourself a marketable athlete at the top level of play, don’t be discouraged. You don’t even have to play on your college’s team. Many rewards require an interest in a sport and the intention to continue playing it when you go to college, even it’s on a club or intramural team.

Explore our examples of school-based and sports scholarships from outside organizations. Don’t rule out academic scholarships when applying for funding, as you won’t be playing on the team if you can’t pay the tuition. For additional information about sports scholarships and awards based on different criteria, try conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.

Last Edited: September 2015

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