From small donations for sporting equipment to larger gifts aimed at offsetting the full cost of your tuition, athletic scholarship opportunities abound.
There are numerous organizations, foundations, corporations, sporting associations, and private benefactors hoping to create an opportunity for student athletes.
As you proceed, take note that deadlines are always passing and new opportunities are always emerging. If a deadline for one of the opportunities below has passed, come back and visit in a few weeks for updates and changes.
Before you proceed, there are a few basic facts about athletic scholarships that you should be aware of. According to U.S. News & World Report:
There are roughly 138,000 athletic scholarships available for Division I and Division II sports (though there are, of course, countless other scholarship opportunities through alternative outlets).
The average athletic scholarship is about $10,400 per year, or $8,700 if you don't account for the more generous scholarships usually reserved for men's football and basketball players.
Many scholarships apply to only one year of your education, meaning that you must maintain a certain level of athletic and academic excellence so that your scholarship can be renewed each year.
All of these numbers mean that an athletic scholarship probably won't reduce the cost of your college education to zero. But that doesn't mean there isn't help out there for you.
Improve Your Odds
Be realistic in your expectations and take steps to improve your odds. Such steps include:
Excelling in your studies
Contacting coaches at programs that might interest you
Creating your own YouTube channel and other online/social media resources to showcase your talents
In other words, don't wait to be discovered. If you are seven feet tall, scouts will probably find you. For everyone else, it helps to be proactive. It's up to you to reach out to coaches and athletic departments to put yourself on the radar. This can improve your odds of landing a school- or sport-specific scholarship.
Don't Forget about Eligibility Requirements
As long as you strive for excellence in your game and in your life, you might be a candidate for an athletic scholarship. It's also important to pay attention to the eligibility requirements for college participation in your sport and at your level.
The rules that apply to you will largely depend on your sport of choice, the type of college you will attend, and the level at which you hope to play.
An array of additional factors will impact your eligibility for specific scholarship types, including your state of residence, your academic performance, your intended college major, and a host of other personal factors that might be relevant to your athletic and academic success.
Below, we provide a comprehensive list of scholarship opportunities available to athletes, beginning with those most commonly offered by the NCAA and, subsequently, those offered by the NAIA and the NJCAA. Thereafter, you can find a list of miscellaneous scholarship opportunities offered by specific sporting associations, women's athlete groups, minority advocacy groups, companies, organizations, foundations, private donors and countless others who wish to help you take the next step forward as a student and as an athlete.
You should also, of course, reach out to your college of choice and speak to representatives from the financial aid office, the athletic department, or within the scope or your chosen sport to see what opportunities your specific school might offer.
Find the opportunity that makes the most sense for you and apply today. Remember, depending on today's date, any number of scholarship deadlines will have passed. Fortunately, most of these opportunties are annual. Some even renew their deadlines every semester. The process of whittlin down the price tag on your college education begins here:
NCAA Scholarship Opportunities
Walter Byers Scholarships
In 1988, the National Collegiate Athletic Association established the Walter Byers Scholarship as a means of recognizing the contributions of the former executive director through encouraging excellence in academic performance by student-athletes.
Annually, one male and one female student-athlete are awarded a $24,000 Walter Byers scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and potential for success in graduate study.
In 2008, the National Collegiate Athletic Association established the Jim McKay Scholarship to recognize the immense contributions and legacy of pioneer sports journalist Jim McKay. Annually, one male and one female student-athlete are awarded a one-time $10,000 Jim McKay scholarship in recognition of outstanding academic achievement and their potential to make a major contribution to the sports communication industry or public relations. McKay scholars will be recognized as having a unique aptitude and commitment to the communications field while displaying the highest level of professional integrity, including the principles of truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability, with the element of compassion that so infused McKay's long and storied career. While McKay scholars not need a major in communications or journalism, they should demonstrate achievement in sport communication, public relations or at least show an interest in making a contribution to the field.
NCAA Ethnic Minority and Women's Enhancement Postgraduate Scholarship Program
The Ethnic Minority and Women's Enhancement Graduate Scholarship were developed by the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics and the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. The goal of the enhancement programs is to increase the pool of and opportunities for qualified minority and female candidates in intercollegiate athletics through graduate scholarships.
Division I Degree Completion Grants
Cost of Tuition*
*Cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks.
The NCAA Division I Degree-Completion Award Program was established in 1989 to assist student-athletes who could not complete their education during their five-year eligibility period. To be eligible to apply for the program, a student-athlete must have competed at an NCAA Division I institution, have received athletics-related financial aid, and be within thirty semester hours (forty-five quarter hours) of completion of his or her degree. To date, the program has awarded over thirty million dollars to over 2,900 deserving student-athletes and ninety percent of the award recipients have successfully completed their undergraduate degrees.
Division II Degree Completion Grants
Cost of Tuition
The NCAA established the Division II Degree Completion Award Program in 2001 to provide deserving student-athletes financial assistance for them to complete their first baccalaureate degree. Candidates will be students who have exhausted their athletics eligibility and have received athletics financial aid. The selection process for the national award emphasizes the academic performance of the student-athlete. Other factors considered are financial circumstances, athletic achievement and involvement in campus and community activities.
The NCAA awards up to 174 postgraduate scholarships annually. The scholarships are awarded to student-athletes who excel academically and athletically and who are at least in their final year of intercollegiate athletics competition. The one-time non-renewable scholarships of $7,500 are awarded three times a year corresponding to each sport season (fall, winter and spring). Each sports season there are twenty-nine scholarships available for men and twenty-nine scholarships available for women for use in an accredited graduate program.
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Scholarships
Team Type 1 Scholarships
Team Type 1 fights for the right to live and for equal access to education for everyone affected by type 1 diabetes. Global access to medicine, education and empowerment for everyone affected by diabetes. Team Type 1 is funding scholarships in order to recognize young, talented athletes with type 1 diabetes who demonstrate an ability to balance both academic and sporting commitments, promote good health with successful management of their diabetes through exercise, and support families already burdened with additional expenses associated with diabetes care.
Emil S. Liston Award for junior basketball student-athletes
This award is given annually by the NAIA and Daktronics, recognizes one male and one female basketball player based on scholarship, character, and playing ability. Since 1950, the award has honored the memory of the NAIA's first executive director Emil S. Liston. Liston was the founder of the National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball (NAIB).
Dr. Leroy Walker Award Student-Athlete of Character
In honor of former NAIA President and President Emeritus of the United States Olympic Committee, Dr. LeRoy Walker, this award recognizes a junior or senior student-athlete who utilizes all five core values of the NAIA Champions of Character program and demonstrates outstanding academic achievement, campus and community leadership, athletic achievement, and ambition.
National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Scholarships
Most NJCAA Scholarship opportunities will be available directly through the community college where you plan to play. For individual opportunities, reach out to the athletic department at your chosen school. The NCJAA offers the following point of consideration:
"Each institution belonging to the NJCAA chooses to compete on the Division I, II or III level in designated sports. Division I colleges may offer full athletic scholarships a maximum of tuition, fees, room and board, course related books, up to $250 in course required supplies, and transportation costs one time per academic year to and from the college by direct route. Division II colleges are limited to awarding tuition, fees, course related books, and up to $250 in course required supplies. Division III institutions may provide no athletically related financial assistance. However, NJCAA colleges that do not offer athletic aid may choose to participate at the Division I or II level if they so desire."
Miscellaneous Scholarship Opportunities
ACF Notah Begay III Scholarship Program
Professional golfer Notah Begay III established this scholarship fund in 1999 to benefit Native American athletes attending college. Awards are made to New Mexico high school graduating seniors demonstrating strong academic achievement and participation in any varsity level team sport. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be Native American scholar-athletes.
Alabama Golf Association Women's Scholarship Fund
The objective of the Alabama Golf Association Women's Scholarship Fund is to grant scholarships to deserving young women from the State of Alabama who have an interest in golf and are pursuing a baccalaureate degree at an accredited college or university within the State of Alabama. This is an academic scholarship and not based on athletic ability.
Established by Alliance Pipeline in 2001, this scholarship will be awarded on an annual basis to a student-athlete who demonstrates strong academic performance. The student must maintain a 3.0 GPA and participate in an intercollegiate sport.
To be considered for scholarships at Augustana based on academic performance and/or talent requires a completed Application for Admission and Scholarship. Applicants must be student-athletes and must earn at least a 3.0 GPA while enrolled at Augustana to maintain these scholarships in subsequent years.
World Cup Supply offers the Berlack/Astle Memorial Fast Skier Award, which provides assistance for USSA U16 athletes. Recipients must have the personal characteristics required for success both on and off the hill.
The BigSun Organization is proud to be able to help young athletes succeed in their academic pursuits. In order to do our part, we are offering an annual scholarship to a deserving student. All student-athletes are eligible for this award, regardless of which sport they are participating in.
The mission of The Bill Dickey Scholarship Association is to increase the participation of minority youngsters in the sport of golf as well as provide financial assistance in their pursuit of education and opportunity.
Billiard Education Foundation Academic Scholarship Program
The Billiard Education Foundation (BEF) Academic Scholarship Program is an annual program administered by the BEF Scholarship Committee, under the direction and guidance of the BEF Board of Trustees. The objective is to grant scholarships to high school seniors who have benefited from the sport of billiards and are entering their first year of college.
The Athletics Scholarship is available to student-athletes in CCU's College of Undergraduate Studies who are recommended for scholarship consideration by the CCU Athletics Department. Recipients must maintain satisfactory academic progress, unless otherwise noted by the Athletics Department. Scholarship amounts vary.
Scholarships are awarded based on a variety of factors including academic achievement, community service, and significant extracurricular activities such as work, performing arts, and athletics. Financial need is a criterion for several scholarships, but there are also others awarded for academic merit regardless of need.
This scholarship was established in memory of Albert Holloway, who served for many years on the Academic Support, Intercollegiate Athletics, Nominating, and Student Support Committees of the Foundation. He was a great supporter of academics, extracurricular, student service programs, and the athletic program. It is awarded to a student-athlete at California State University - Bakersfield.
Applicants to this scholarship must be female student athletes planning to attend college. The Rydberg Scholarship requires two recommendations, one of which must be from a Guilford High School athletic coach.
The Ernie Davis Scholarship is awarded to a student athlete who exhibits qualities of integrity, leadership, courage, and humility, which were exemplified by Ernie Davis during his life, and who effectively “spreads the word“ about Ernie's legacy.
The FMC Skaters Scholarship program was developed in 1993 to provide financial assistance to ice sports participants and recreational ice skaters who demonstrate personal excellence on and off the ice. The scholarships are awarded to ice hockey, figure skating and recreational skaters. All applicants must be New England residents and skate at FMC arenas.
Hall of Fame's Team One Credit Union Scholar-Athlete Award
The Hall of Fame's Team One Credit Union Scholar-Athlete Award was established to assist Saginaw County student-athletes who are continuing their academic and athletic careers at Saginaw Valley State University. The Hall of Fame started with a grassroots effort in 2001 when board members actually “passed a hat“ to begin their funding. The first induction banquet was held October 26, 2002, at Saginaw Valley State University's Curtiss Hall in front of nearly 650 people.
The mission of Diabetes Scholars Foundation is to support activities related to education for and about children with diabetes. It offers a scholarship specifically for student athletes with Type 1 diabetes.
In September 2009, Joyce Komperda, a longtime friend of US Figure Skating, made a generous gift to establish the Joyce Komperda Athlete Support Fund. The fund is intended to provide financial assistance for intermediate, novice, and junior-level athletes who demonstrate financial need.
The Marilynn Smith Scholarship is granted annually through The LPGA Foundation and the Marilynn Smith Scholarship Fund. Established in 1999 by Marilynn with the proceeds of a golf tournament she organized, the objective of the Marilynn Smith Scholarship is to provide a scholarship to a female high school senior who has played golf in high school or in her community and is planning to play golf at an accredited college or university in the United States.
The Massachusetts Youth Soccer Scholarship Program is for high school seniors who plan to attend a post-secondary educational institution. A scholarship of $1,000 will be awarded to one male and one female each year. To be eligible for this scholarship, the student-athlete must have been associated with Massachusetts Youth Soccer for at least the past two years.
PCA Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship Program
PCA scholarships are awarded to high school athletes, based on their essays explaining how they meet the standard defined in Elevating Your Game: Becoming a Triple-Impact Competitor by PCA Founder Jim Thompson, including Personal Mastery, Leadership, and Honoring the Game.
Pittsburg Penguins/Bob Johnson Memorial Scholarship
The Pittsburgh Penguins awards an annual Pittsburgh Penguins/Bob Johnson Memorial Scholarship to a Western Pennsylvania high school senior who has demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, good citizenship, and school/community involvement. The student should demonstrate an intense love for the game of hockey personified by on-ice hustle, achievement beyond his/her talent level, and leadership.
The Sara Scholarship was established as part of the final will of Sara Sheehan, who passed away in 2011. The award is granted annually to female high school seniors who plan to pursue a college degree and who demonstrate academic achievement, excellence of character, financial need, and active engagement with the sport of golf. Skill in playing golf is not a criterion.
This scholarship is for Black high school seniors from ETHS with demonstrated academic excellence or improvement, involvement in school activities and/or team sports, and an interest in community service. The scholarship will be awarded in two installments: one in the first year and one in the third year.
This annual award recognizes star qualities in a female high school senior or college student who competes in the sport of bowling. Star qualities include distinguished bowling performance on the local, regional, state, and national levels, academic achievement, and extracurricular and civic involvement.
This award annually recognizes star qualities in a male high school senior or college student who competes in the sport of bowling. Star qualities include distinguished certified bowling performance on the local, regional, state and national levels, academic achievement and extracurricular and civic involvement. The award winner receives a $6,000 scholarship.
Women's Western Golf Foundation Scholarship
The Women's Western Golf Foundation is a charitable trust providing undergraduate scholarships. Award winners receive a grant in the amount of $2,000 yearly. The scholarship is renewable each year, for four years, provided the recipient shows continued financial need and maintenance of a GPA above 3.0.
William Woods University Scholar-Athlete Award
Awards — ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 — are available for basketball, baseball, cross country, track and field, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, and women's volleyball. Coaches determine recipients of these awards based on demonstrated talent and skill. If the athlete has an ACT of at least 27, they are eligible for this award. A WWU GPA of at least 3.0 is required for renewal.