High school athletes dream of playing their sport at college level and getting a full-ride scholarship.

According to information published by the the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) almost $1 billion in scholarship grants are awarded to approximately 126,000 student-athletes each year.

Receiving an athletic scholarship is a challenge, but you can make it easier on yourself by making a game plan and learning the facts.

Athletic scholarships are grants or awards of money that help you finance all or part of your university education. The amounts awarded can vary from as little as $500 to as much as $30,000. Athletic scholarships are granted to student-athletes in return for competing on a college’s sports team. Financial aid refers to a number of things including student loans that need to paid back. Athletic scholarships do not need to be paid back, they form an important part of the total financial aid package.

No matter what you have been told you must keep this in mind. Athletic scholarships do not guarantee you four years at college. They are only awarded for one year. Most scholarships are renewed each year but this depends; on your athletic results, academic standing and in some cases general behavior.

Full ride scholarships cover board, tuition, class fees and books. Partial scholarships only cover a part of your education costs at college.

Most universities and colleges that have athletic programs belong to one of the three largest athletic associations. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), or the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).

The NJCAA is made up of “2 year schools” and is also divided into 3 divisions. NJCAA division I schools can grant athletes a full athletic scholarship, division II schools can only offer partial scholarships that cover tuition, books and fees while division III colleges cannot offer any.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is the governing body of most College Sport. Your first step towards playing your sport at college level is to register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse.

The NAIA is also divided into 3 divisions and as a general rule division I colleges offer more athletic scholarships than division II colleges.

The NCAA is divided into three divisions. Division I is the the top college sporting level. Division II generally offers a lesser number of scholarships and the standard is below that of DI. Division III does not grant athletic scholarships but these schools offer other forms of financial aid including academic scholarships.

Female student-athletes need be aware that federal law (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 USC 1681-1688) requires that athletic scholarships be distributed equally between women and men. as a consequence there is a considerable amount of scholarship money available for women with athletic ability.

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