Competition for rowing scholarships varies greatly by school, as some colleges are known for their programs and consider it an elite sport, while others place more emphasis on higher-visibility sports like basketball and football. As the traditionally male-dominated sport grows in popularity among women, so will competition for female athletes looking to nab some of that NCAA scholarship money. Since rowing teams are usually made up of about 20 athletes, the chances of scoring a full scholarship are low, but it does mean if you’re a decent team player, you could have a shot at landing a nice-sized partial scholarship.
If you’re going for college-based scholarship funding, you’ll have to play by the NCAA’s rules. You’ll need a minimum GPA to be eligible, and maintain that GPA while you’re on a team to keep your funding. While rowing has become known for being a sport where walk-on scholarships are easier to land than in the more high-profile sports, that phenomenon has been more common for female athletes as more schools have begun adding women’s rowing programs. Most of the rowing scholarships you’ll find will be college-based, but if you’ve been on your high school crew team, it wouldn’t hurt to contact local groups and rowing associations to see whether they do any sponsoring of athletes or offer scholarships. If you’re not sure whether you’ll be trying out for your college team, don’t forget about academic scholarships to help fund your education, since you would need a high GPA to participate on a team anyway.
Check out some examples of where to find rowing 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’re an athletic high school student but don’t have a particular sport in mind for what you’ll busy your time with in college, consider rowing. The number of female-only rowing, or crew, teams has exploded over the last decade, and now women have a better shot at landing scholarship money from a college than men do. Schools like Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, and San Diego State University all have generous funding available for female rowers, including some full rides, both to satisfy Title IX requirements and bring more attention to the non-traditional sport. So take advantage of the growth in the sport and the money available, as you could be looking at a fully-funded college education and find a new sport you enjoy, as well.
If you plan on rowing in college, your intended school could have funds and endowments set up to help cover college athletes’ tuitions. The University of Texas Rowing Scholarship at the University of Texas at Austin is for future rowers at the college, including freshman walk-ons. The rowing team is divided into novice and varsity squads, and no previous experience is necessary to compete for the award. With a non-traditional sport like rowing, chances are you may have a better chance to land some scholarship money than if you were participating in the more high-profile sports.
If you’ve been a part of a community or local rowing club, talk to the club’s leaders about whether there are scholarships available to members of the club or the community. The Hampton Roads Rowing Club, for example, in Norfolk, Va., provides an annual $1,000 scholarship to one male and one female rower who plan to continue the sport in college. Eligible applicants do not need to be members of the club, but should be graduating high school seniors from the Tidewater area. Don’t rule out local funding sources in your hunt for scholarships.
Are you active with your local amateur rowing association? That organization could have a scholarship fund set up for its younger members, especially if you’re a high school senior. The Merrimac River Rowing Association, for example, in Lowell, Mass., offers scholarships to high school seniors who have supported or participated in rowing programs at the Bellegarde Boathouse. While the scholarships are only for $200, winners also get their fees waived for the upcoming season. The Norwalk River Rowing Association has a Matthew Zucker Memorial Scholarship Fund for low-income students in the Norwalk area. If you’re already involved in an amateur rowing association or want to get involved in one, consider contacting that group about annual scholarship opportunities that could pad your financial aid package.
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