Although track and field is usually considered alongside cross country when divvying up scholarship funding, the two disciplines require two very different kinds of athletes. While there are typically more awards available for the long distance runners, if you have an impressive high school track and field record, you could have a decent shot at landing a spot on a competitive team, with some scholarship money to boot. Both male and female track and field athletes are eligible for scholarship funding at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Just know that most awards will be college-based, so you may need to factor that in your college search. While you’ll have a lot of choice in finding colleges that have track and field programs, you may want to consider your skill level when approaching schools. Don’t rule out smaller, private schools where it could be less competitive to find a place on a team and get scholarship money for the sport.
As it takes a strong track and field team to win competitions, schools will usually divide available scholarship funding up among the students, making for several partial scholarships rather than full rides to the best athletes. To supplement that financial aid package, don’t forget about scholarships based on other criteria. You’ll need to have and maintain a minimum GPA not only to land a scholarship but to be on a team, according to NCAA regulations, so seek out awards based on your academic achievements, as well. Since you’ll be working hard to keep your grades up while running track, why not try to get rewarded for it? Don’t rule out awards based on things like leadership, either, as you probably already have those kinds of qualities as a student athlete.
Check out some examples of where to find track and field scholarships below. For additional information about awards based on different criteria, try conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.
While the scholarship awards began with modest awards in 1961 - the presentation of two grants, one for $500 and another for $250 - Dixie Youth Baseball awarded seventy (70) $2,000 scholarship awards in 2009. Total awards since inception of the scholarship program now number 904 with an aggregate value of $1,576,950. Dixie Youth funds its scholarships through interest on funds earmarked for DYB, scholarships, new donations received annually, and any surplus funds transferred from the general operating funds of the program.
The NCAA won’t be the only resource for you to investigate if you’re pursuing track and field on the post-secondary level. The National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) also awards full and partial scholarships to talented athletes. If you’re interested in pursuing track at a community college, consider contacting those schools about potential scholarship opportunities in your sport. If you’re at a high level of skill with a decent academic record, consider your options on the junior college level, but know that if you transfer to an NCAA college after two years, the GPA and standardized test score requirements may be stricter.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) also offers scholarships on both the Division I and Division II level. While the association will have fewer scholarships to go around than the more expansive NCAA, the requirements of getting onto a team and staying there at an NAIA school are less strict. Students must have two of the following three criteria: have a minimum ACT score of 18 or minimum SAT score of 860, have a minimum 2.0 GPA, or have graduated high school in the top half of your graduating class. Don’t rule out NAIA schools when looking for colleges where you could be a student-athlete.
If you plan on participating in track and field in college, your intended college could have funds and endowments for the sport, often set up by alumni. The Brian E. McClanahan Memorial Scholarship at East Stroudsburg University in Pennsylvania, for example, is awarded to members of the men’s track team enrolled as full-time students at the school. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and have earned at least one varsity letter in men’s track and field. 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.
Your local chapter of USA Track and Field (USATF), the national governing body for track and field, long-distance running, and race-walking, has scholarship funding available through its youth organizations. The Southern California Association of USATF, for example, awards as many as six annual scholarships to graduating student-athletes who have participated in the USATF organization. Three male and three female athletes will each receive a $500 scholarship if attending a four-year institution, $250 if attending a two-year institution. It may not seem like much, but every little bit helps. And if you have several such organizations in your state awarding scholarship funding, you could be looking at a generous amount of scholarship money to pay for your college career.
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