Your questions About the Sports Scholarship Process Answered

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To get recruited and be in line for athletic scholarships you must let the coaches know who you are and why you deserve to play college sport.

What are my chances of playing college sports?

Only two percent of high school athletes will play college sports. But don’t let the numbers mislead you–The only statistics that matter are the numbers you put up in the sport you play.

Do your research on teams that interest you. See how you line up with their current players and don’t hesitate to contact the coach to see if he is interested in an athlete with your talents. Every team is looking for something a little different in their athletes.

You have options: Be open to looking at NCAA Division 1, 2 & 3 programs as well as NAIA and Junior College Programs.

Even if you don’t have the skills a coach is looking for in a scholarship athlete there may be an opportunity to walk onto the team. At the very least a coach can advise you on what you should be doing to get closer to your goals.

How good am I and where can I compete?

Honestly assess your athletic talent–You can start by asking your coach for his opinion. When you research college programs that interest you see where your talent fits in. Camps, showcases and combines can also give you invaluable insight into where you stack up.

What should I look for in a college?

Look for the best fit for you. A great question to ask yourself is, “Would I consider attending this school even if I’m not going to play sports?”

Does the college have the academic majors and social features that are suited to you? What are the graduation rates for student-athletes and in what sports? Do you want to live at home, close to home, or be as far away from home as possible?

What size school do you want to attend? Are you willing to go to a college affiliated with a religious denomination that is not your own?

You will want to start a list of things that are important to you in a college and revise the list as you refine your search.

How do I know if I will play?

During the recruiting process ask the coach if you are being recruiting for a starting position or to add depth to the team. Ask about the student-athlete that currently holds that position, how you stack up against them and what year they are in school. Coaches often have a good idea of what positions are set for the following year. Always keep in mind that your primary goal is a quality college education.

Who should I rely on to help me get a college athletic scholarship and a spot on a team?

YOU and only you. You can get assistance from your parents, coaches and recruiting services. But ultimately you are the only person who can make your dream of playing college sports come true.

Coaches are not interested in recruiting your friends, coaches, or parents. You need to make the effort and contacts–your goal of getting recruited will not just happen.

Make lists, ask questions, write letters, and surf the web for information. Ask your coaches and academic advisers for tips and advice.

If you know someone who has been through the recruiting process make it a point to talk to them and seek their advice.

When am I allowed to contact college coaches?

According to eligibility rules you are allowed to contact college coaches at any time. It is against the rules for a coach to contact you at certain times but if you initiate the conversation or contact they can reply. Make sure that when you make contact you have something noteworthy to tell them or have well thought-out questions to ask–you don’t want to be known as the recruit who wastes their time.

What is an unofficial visit?

An unofficial visit is a visit that you take to a college campus at your own expense. Unnoffical visits can be taken at anytime and as many times as you would like. While on an unoffical visit the athletic department is allowed to give you up to 3 tickets to a sporting event, but no other perks or gifts.

What is an official visit?

An official visit is a visit that you make to a college e paid for by the team or athletic department. The school is able to pay for transportation, lodging, meals and reasonable entertainment for the recruit while they are on their visit. The visit may be up to 48 hours long. Official visits can only be taken in an athlete’s senior year and each recruit can take five.

When should I start the recruiting process?

When the recruiting process starts really depends on the sport. A good rule of thumb is to start your freshman year.

During your Freshman year you will want to meet with your high school counselor and come up with an academic game plan. Make sure you are meeting all the needs of the NCAA and NAIA in addition to the specific colleges that interest you. Look for summer camps that will help you develop as a student-athlete and gain you some valuable exposure to coaches as well.

During your Sophomore year research programs you are interested in and contact coaches. The summer after your sophomore year you should consider attending the camps held by those teams.

Your Junior year is the most important in the recruiting process. This is the year coaches will be looking at your statistics and the admissions department will be looking at you academic achievements. Make sure you have already established a relationship with coaches so that when your senior year starts they already know you are interested in their program.

By the time you start your senior year you should have narrowed down your list of possible schools to five or six. If you have not already established a relationship with the coach you should do it now.

How important are grades and test scores?

Getting good grades and having good test scores is just as important as having good statistics in your sport. A coach can only recruit you if you are academically eligible to compete at that specific school. Not only do you have to qualify for the academic requirements of the NCAA or NAIA but you will want to make sure you know what the academic requirements are for the school you are interested in attending.

Don’t believe the myth that a coach can get you into the school if he wants you bad enough. A coach still has to answer to the University and NCAA or NAIA on the GPA and graduation rates of their athletes. Most coaches won’t gamble on a student-athlete who hasn’t demonstrated he can handle the academic responsibilities of the school.

Remember it’s called Student-Athlete. You need to perform in both.

You can calculate your GPA here.

Does my athletic scholarship cover my entire time in school?

An athletic scholarship is a contract that must be signed and agreed upon every year by both the coach and the athlete. This means your scholarship is year-to-year. Every year you will have to earn a renewal of your scholarship by proving yourself as an asset to the team on the field and in the classroom.

Will I still need to pay for school if I have a scholarship?

Now is the time to start your research on college finances. You certainly want the best deal for yourself and the least amount of debt possible when you graduate. Text books alone can cost more than $1,000 a year. Many athletic programs will not offer you a full-ride scholarship but rather a partial athletic scholarship, which means you will have to come up with the additional funding. Information about applying for additional federal aid (FAFSA).

Are you prepared to pay for college even if you have an athletic scholarship?

An athletic scholarship is a great way to get a quality education while competing in the sport you love, but just because you are good at your sport doesn’t mean that the cost of college will go away. A majority of athletic scholarships are partial scholarships.

What kinds of schools can offer athletic scholarships?

 NCAA Division I & II schools, NAIA schools, and some Junior Colleges are all eligible to give athletic scholarships. NCAA Division III schools are able to give other types of scholarships and financial aid.

Can you still play college sports without getting an athletic scholarship?

Absolutely. Scholarship athletes are student-athletes who are invited to be on a team. There are, however, more spots on the team than allowed scholarships. Students who try out and make a collegiate athletic team are called walk-ons.

If you are looking to walk on to a team make sure you contact the coach to find out if there are available spots, when try-outs are, and what they are looking for in their athletes.

Can my High School or Club Coach help me get recruited?

You should always involve your coaches in your recruiting process. College coaches value the recommendation of other coaches. But don’t rely on others to do your recruiting for you. You alone should be heading up your recruiting process. If your coaches want to get involved you should ask them for letters of recommendation or–if they are willing–to be listed as references on your resume.

Recruiting help is always appreciated, but you should always take the lead in your own recruiting.

How important is timing when I’m trying to get recruited?

Timing is everything. Coaches recruit based on what they need to complete their team. If you play a position or do an event that the team is currently strong in chances are they will not need to recruit you. When looking at programs you will want to research their current roster to see what their depth chart is relative to your talents.

How early can I give a verbal agreement?

 You can give a verbal agreement at any time in the recruiting process. This verbal agreement is telling a coach that you intend on joining their program. You should keep in mind that a verbal agreement is not binding if there is a coaching change or if you have a career ending injury a school does not have to offer a scholarship. Even though a verbal agreement is not binding student athletes that brake verbal agreements are not looked favorably upon. Once the signing date for your sport approaches you will sign a NLI with the school that will make the scholarship agreement binding and official.

Should I sign early with a college?

Signing early means that you are signing a National Letter of Intent (or NLI) with a school in November of your senior year. This does not mean that you are giving the school a verbal commitment.

Signing your NLI during the early signing period is a great way to take the pressure off the recruiting process if you are sure that this is the offer that is best for you. Remember that once you sign an NLI you are committed to that school and you can no longer be recruited by other programs.

If you break your NLI you do not have to go to that school, however, you can not accept a scholarship or play for any other program the following year. Recruiting is a very exciting time, but make sure you are doing your research and making wise decisions.

Where can I find the recruiting rules and regulations?

 Recruiting rules change every year. Check with the NCAA and theNAIA. to make sure you have the most accurate information. You should also be able to review the rules in the compliance department of the athletic department that you are interested in. Make sure you review all the rules while you are in the recruiting process. Don’t make yourself ineligible because you didn’t know the rules.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal law that states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

This law means that there needs to be equality in men’s and women’s athletic programs. Schools must maintain a male/female ratio for athletic teams based on the student enrollment for that school.

I am getting letters from schools and coaches. Am I going to get a scholarship?

Unless you are getting phone calls or hand-written letters from coaches, chances are you are not being actively recruited. Coaches send out thousands of recruiting letters in order to get student-athletes to respond with information about themselves. If you receive a letter from a school that interests you fill out their questionnaire so the coaches can learn more about you. There is no substitute for being proactive. If there is a program you are interested in you should contact the coach. Athletes who wait to be noticed might miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

Should I use a recruiting service?

A recruiting service can make sense for student-athletes who need maximum exposure. But just because you have help with the recruiting process doesn’t mean you have any less work to do. You need to be VERY active in your recruiting process whether you use a recruiting service or not. All recruiting services are not created equal so do your research.

What is the NCAA?

 The National Collegiate Athletic Association oversees the rules and regulations of many college athletic departments. The NCAA is broken up into three Divisions, depending on sport: Division 1, Division 2 and Division 3. Football and Basketball also have a Division 1A. Each division has specific rules that the athletic departments, coaches and athletes need to abide by in order to stay eligible.

What is the difference between the NCAA divisions?

The main difference between the different NCAA divisions is their ability to give athletic scholarships to student-athletes. Division 1, 1-A and 2 can give athletic scholarships. Division 3 schools can not give athletic scholarships, but the school can give academic scholarships and other types of financial aide.

What is the NCAA Clearinghouse?

The NCAA department that used to be called the clearinghouse is now known as the eligibility center. The eligibility center is the organization that determines if you are academically eligible to play college athletics. In high school there are a certain number of core courses required and minimum GPA and ACT/SAT scores you need to earn. You only need to register with the eligibility center if you plan on playing at the NCAA Division 1, 1-A or 2 levels. To register go to the NCAA Eligibility Center

What is a NCAA NLI?

An NLI or national letter of intent is the written commitment that you give a school your senior year stating that you will attend that school the following year and accept their offer for athletic financial aide (athletic scholarship). You only have to sign an NLI if you are receiving some sort of athletic scholarship from the school. There are only certain dates when you can sign your NLI and this is different for each sport. Once you have signed an NLI you are committed to that school for an entire year and can no longer be recruited by any other schools.

What is the NAIA?

The NAIA stands for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. The NAIA oversees the college sports programs for over 300 college athletic departments. The typical NAIA school competes at the level of an average NCAA Division 2 program. Normally an NAIA school is smaller than an NCAA school, but in many cases they can offer more scholarships per sport.

What is the NCJAA?

The NJCAA is the National Junior College Athletic Association. Junior college is an excellent way to get both a quality education and play college sports at an affordable price. NJCAA member schools in Division 1 and 2 can offer athletic scholarships. NJCAA Division 3 schools do not offer athletic scholarships. Some student-athletes find it beneficial to study and play at a Junior College before transferring to a 4 year university–it gives them two more years to mature academically and athletically.

What is the NCCAA?

 The NCCAA is the National Christian College Athletic Association. Many NCCAA colleges are also NCAA or NAIA members. The NCCAA is divided into Division 1 and 2 schools. Only NCCAA Division 1 schools can offer athletic scholarships.

What is

College Sports Scholarships (CSS) is a free recruiting resource for student-athletes, parents, coaches and counselors to help them better understand the recruiting process and the steps that need to be taken to get recruited. The goal of CSS is to educate student-athletes, giving them the tools they need in order to fulfill their goal of become collegiate athletes. You can access the recruiting answers you need through articles, blogs, videos and FAQ’s. You can also get recruiting tips you need by following the CSS twitter feed, facebook page or emailing or calling CSS directly.

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