NAIA AND NCAA SOCCER SCHOLARSHIPS
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COLLEGE SOCCER RECRUITING AND HOW TO APPLY FOR A SCHOLARSHIP
The competition for a soccer scholarship starts as early as or earlier than any other college sport. Playing club soccer and attending soccer camps and showcases is essential in the process of securing a soccer scholarship. With the majority of scholarships coming outside of the NCAA DI level, finding a scholarship comes down to finding the best division level for you.
College Soccer Recruiting basics:
With over 1,200+ men’s college soccer programs across the country and over 1,400 women’s programs finding a scholarship is harder then you might think.
Coaches divide their money up and very rarely give full ride scholarships.
For women’s programs there are a maximum of 14 scholarships for a DI team, 9.9 for DII, 12 for NAIA programs and a fully funded NJCAA program has up to 18 scholarships per team.
Men’s soccer can offer 9.9 scholarships per team DI, 9 per team DII, 12 at the NAIA level and 18 scholarships per team for NJCAAA programs.
DI scholarships are not the only option:
Over 85% of soccer scholarship opportunities fall outside of the NCAA DI level and non-DI programs typically evaluate recruits during their sophomore, junior and sometimes senior years in high school. The competition level is very different between division levels and finding the right level is critical in finding scholarships. Just being on a DII team won’t get you a scholarship but contributing solid minutes at the NAIA level will give you a better chance for a scholarship.
Travel teams versus high school teams
To be a college scholarship soccer play you need to be playing club soccer and traveling to at least a couple tournaments a year. High school soccer just doesn’t get the same attention club soccer does with college coaches. Remember, not all club teams are created equal and be sure you are on a team that is right for you. Playing on the biggest name team you can find but not playing is not as good as playing on a smaller team and getting game time.
Scholarships won’t always come right away:
With team rosters of 20+ player’s coaches divide their scholarship money between players who are contributing the most. This means you need to be able to contribute minutes right away if you are looking for a scholarship as a freshman. Coaches typically have new players walk on and as you develop and contribute more to the team they will begin giving you more scholarship money.
Committing early means you needed to start early:
For the top DI programs competition for the best recruits has pushed programs and recruits to make verbal commitments even before they are half way done with high school. These recruits have been attending particular schools camps for years and have forged relationships with the coaches as 6th and 7th graders. DI scholarships don’t just happen; recruits have been involved with the ODP programs and attending national tournaments for several years before they get DI offers.