Although it may not be a popular sport as football or other college sports, fencing has been in collegiate athletic programs for hundreds of years. Though not all schools offer it, some universities like Columbia, Penn State, Princeton, Notre Dame, Harvard St. John's, and UPenn have highly prestigious programs and offer generous financial aid and scholarships to well-qualified fencers. Traditional fencing scholarships are competitive and require minimum GPA requirements, partly due to the fact that the sport is not found at many colleges. As the sport grows in popularity in the United States, so will competition for scholarships. So if you’re at all serious about fencing and your skill level is high, the sport could be something that not only gets you a good amount of scholarship money but lands you at a top university because of your unique skill. The college-based scholarships you will find will most likely be partial scholarships, as schools with a tradition in the sport are more interested in having a strong fencing team rather than one strong player they would award a full ride to. Even if you don’t end up playing at the collegiate level, you can look at club or intramural teams for scholarship opportunities or even a memorial scholarship that does not necessarily require you to compete at the college level.
You need not be one of the best fence players in the state to win a scholarship - you can always opt to play at colleges that have club or intramural teams. Organizations that offer fencing scholarships may put more weight on financial need, academic achievement, or community service than the more competitive college-based awards.
Check out some examples of where to find fencing scholarships below. For additional information about awards based on different criteria, try conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
About $3 billion in full and partial athletic scholarships have been awarded in a year by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to more than 126,000 undergraduate student-athletes at Division I and Division II schools. Although these scholarships are awarded and administered directly by each academic institution, not the NCAA, you’ll be required to meet the requirements of the NCAA to receive any funding. Those requirements include a minimum GPA for both the college-bound and those already on campuses, and qualifying standardized test scores. Contact your intended school’s athletic department for more information if you have the academics and the skill to play on a college team.
If you plan on pursuing fencing in college, whether on the school-sponsored team or club level, your intended college could have funds and endowments for the sport, often set up by alumni who have participated in the sport before you ever set foot on that campus. Schools like Notre Dame, Harvard, and Stanford are well-known for their prestigious fencing programs and so your chances of participating on the teams will require not only high-level fencing skill but strong academics as well. Make sure you do your research, and talk to your financial aid office and athletic departments about local and college-based awards you could be eligible for. Communicating with the college fencing coach during your junior or senior year is highly recommended as well, so as to establish a relationship and good rapport - coaches will remember your initiative when it comes to considering you for a scholarship.
The United States Fencing Association is the national governing body for fencing in the United States. It has a number of scholarships available to its members through its member clubs across the country. If you're a member of U.S. Fencing or a U.S. Fencing-sanctioned state association or club, research whether you're eligible for awards through the organization, since you may as well take advantage of your membership status. If you have proven financial need, many of the local clubs will take that into consideration if you’re really interested in joining. Presidio Fencing Club in Santa Barbara, for example, offers members scholarships through its Youth Fencers Assistance Program. Applicants are required to show a copy of their family’s tax returns as proof of financial need, and maintain a GPA of at least 2.5. Consider all of your options when looking for funding to help you stay in fencing, as funding for the sport on the college level is not as plentiful as it is for more high-profile sports.
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