Fencing isn’t as obscure a sport as you may think, although you’ll have to do your research with a college search first if you’re serious about applying to a school with a varsity team and scholarship opportunities. 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.
If you’re not one of the top fencers in your state, it may be a wise move to opt for a college where you could still play on the club or intramural level and seek out scholarships based on your other talents, such as academics, or based on financial need. Also, local fencing scholarships do exist, so check with local organizations that sponsor fencing tournaments. Many of these scholarships may put more weight on your financial needs, academic achievements, 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 $1 billion in full and partial athletic scholarships are awarded each 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. The Herbert C. Spiselman Memorial Endowment for Fencing at Columbia University in the City of New York, for example, is an endowment set up for athletes at the college who wish to participate in the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime World Cups and World Championships. The school’s program is very competitive – the program has won more NCAA Fencing and Ivy League Fencing Championships than any other team – so you’ll need to be an impressive athlete to compete. 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.
Many state fencing associations will reward their members or high school athletes from that state with scholarship opportunities to help them continue fencing while in college. The Grand Canyon State Fencing Foundation, for example, awards scholarships to athletes 25 years old and younger who wish to continue participating in the sport while studying in Arizona. Funding awards vary based on the money available to the foundation in any given year, but applications for the awards are accepted four times a year. All applicants must be or become active members of the Arizona Division of the United States Fencing Association, so if you’re serious about the sport or already belong to the organization, make sure you know of any funding opportunities available to you to help you pursue the sport on a college level.
United States Fencing Association
The United States Fencing Association 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, investigate 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.
In fencing, as with sports like wrestling, there is a good amount of prize money available to the best athletes out there who do well at tournaments and competitions. The Williams Scholarship Fencing Tournament, for example, is held each November at Reed College. The top three finishers in the tournament who are eligible for financial aid share a $10,000 scholarship award. The financial aid awards are $5,000 to the first-place winner, $3,500 to the second-place winner, and $1,500 to the third-place winner. If you enjoy competition, or your school’s fencing team has an interest in participating in more outside fencing tournaments, consider competitions that could lead to a generous amount of funding to help you continue fencing and find money for college.
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