Collegiate sports in America can rival the popularity of “adults”, and universities make huge money on ticket sales. Because of this, educational institutions are trying to attract the best young players of the country and the world to their teams, motivating them with scholarships and promises of a successful sports career in the future. In this article, we tell you who has a real chance to get sports funding, where to look for scholarship programs, and whether the game is worth the candle at all.
Briefly about sports scholarships in the USA
- Sports scholarships are more common in the United States than in any other country, but still very rare – less than 2% of all student athletes in the United States receive them;
- The amount of payments depends on the sports division to which the university belongs. Full tuition fees are found only in educational institutions with the strongest teams in the country. On average, the amount of payments is 10,000 USD per year;
- The decision on the payment of the scholarship is made not by the commission or the university, but by the coach of the team;
- The most common sports are basketball, baseball, American football, and cross country;
- The requirements for athletes are the same as in the rest of the world. It is difficult to quantify the criteria by which an applicant for a scholarship can be identified. In general, to qualify for a place in the first division team, you need to play at a level worthy of a professional sports club.
Student sports in the USA
It is generally accepted that college sports in America began in 1852. It was then that Yale and Harvard competed in team rowing for the first time. Since then, this industry has grown – every university in the United States maintains several teams in various sports, matches are broadcast on federal television, and coaches sometimes earn more than their NBA counterparts. Contrary to the movie stereotype, the most common student sport in the country is basketball, not American football. The first is played by 2200 teams, and the second – only 670. But in terms of audience sympathy, the situation is the opposite: college football raises about twice as much money on views alone. In general, the hit parade of the most popular student sports in the United States looks like this:
- American football;
Students-athletes, in the opinion of many peers, live like kings: they do not pay for expensive education, receive individually selected meals, study with tutors at the expense of the university. In addition, they are the first to choose elective courses, so they can create exactly the timetable they want. Prestigious US universities provide athletes with the best conditions: lecture rooms with air conditioning and leather chairs, lounges with plasma TVs, and even hydromassage. Nevertheless, this is only one side of the coin – in practice, as always, everything is much more complicated.
Student sports are considered amateur sports in the United States, but players are required to give all their best at a professional level: the weekly workload ranges from 40 to 50 hours. This is a full-fledged job, which also needs to be combined with study. Lack of sleep, emotional fatigue, difficulties with academic performance and an almost complete lack of free time await the student. Universities understand that it is very difficult to combine education with sports, so they allocate extra hours for individual lessons for athletes – this helps to keep up with the program but does not add time to rest. When you become a university athlete, you must be prepared for the fact that in the next 4 years your life will be scheduled in seconds.
- Most scholarships do not offer full coverage. For example, a total of 85 such scholarships are distributed among FBS Division 1 players per institution. The full scholarships are called full ride scholarship;
- There are only six sports for which you can get a full ride scholarship. These are American football, men’s and women’s basketball, as well as women’s gymnastics, volleyball and tennis;
- Full ride scholarship covers tuition, housing, food, and study materials. The application to the university, standardized tests, administrative fees are paid by the student;
- The amount of the scholarship depends on the division to which the university belongs. The maximum payout is approximately 40,000 USD / year, not counting other benefits. On average, a student can count on USD 10,000;
- Although more than half of American students participate in college sports, less than 2% of them receive scholarships. Many Americans still have to borrow money to engage in college sports. The most popular option is payday loans as clients can apply for such a loan via the Internet. Borrower eligibility requirements are easy to meet all across the USA but have minor differences in each city. For example, a loan company in Macon GA will approve your application if you are a US citizen who is aged 18+ and has and a stable income. Money is sent to the borrower’s bank account instantly the same day. To get basic information about payday lending in your city, you can use reputable online portals like https://www.georgia-ssbci.org. The platform can also be used to apply for a loan online as well as to assess lenders’ ratings and read user reviews.
How are athletic scholarships paid?
Which of the students will receive a sports scholarship is decided by the coach, and not by the department or dean’s office. He also determines the exact amount of payments. The fact is that many universities do not allocate fixed scholarships to finance athletes, but a general budget. And it is the coach who distributes it among the students.
An athletic scholarship is much easier to lose than an academic scholarship. First, most often it is allocated for a year, and the coach may decide not to renew it at the end of the season. You need to constantly strive for maximum productivity and show full dedication: several people breathe in the back of the head of each athlete-scholar who will happily receive a scholarship in his place. Second, scholarships can be lost if you regularly miss classes or commit offenses. The players of the university teams remain students and are obliged to show decent academic results, although the requirements for them are reduced relative to the rest – from the athletes of the first division they are expected to have a GPA of no less than 2.3. Finally, the scholarship will be revoked if the student is no longer able to play sports for health reasons – for example, if he fell out of steam on the way and injured his knee. There is also a downside – the student retains the scholarship if he is injured during the game or training. Often, such a scholarship-compensation is assigned to him until the end of his studies.
Basically, student sports in the United States are regulated by three organizations: the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). All three associations determine the funding standards for athletes, the requirements for universities and sports teams, as well as other more specific features such as quotas for participation in ethnic minority competitions. The number and size of available scholarships depends on which organization the educational institution belongs to. In addition to the main three, there are other associations of student sports, but they focus on only one of its types, and they do not allocate funding at all.
Who can get a sports scholarship in the USA?
There are no clear requirements for potential students-athletes other than age. To play in the first division, the student must enter the university no later than one year after graduating from high school, and the duration of his “sports career” cannot exceed five years. If he does not manage to finish the university during this time, he will have to finish his studies without privileges.
Therefore, the most important thing is to be an accomplished athlete at the time of submitting documents to the university. This concept includes everything: personal measurable indicators such as the maximum number of pull-ups, participation in competitions, prizes and, of course, recommendations that can confirm this. The final verdict will be made by the coach – you need to try to please him.
Student divisions in the USA
The varsity teams are divided into three divisions, from D1 to D3. At the same time, the division does not depend on sports achievements, but on the budget of the educational institution and its approach to sports. The higher the class, the higher the requirements for athletes, the amount of scholarships available and the scale of the competition. Not every association has all three levels, and the NCAA First Division is considered the most prestigious.
|D1||✓||✓||✓||The largest universities with the largest budgets. Sports in these institutions is an independent field of activity, weakly connected with education. This is where full sports scholarships are given, and athletes can afford to focus more on sports than studies. Competitions are held at the federal level and are comparable in scope to championships in “adult” leagues.|
|D2||✓||✓||✓||This is the smallest group of universities. They have the resources and ambition to support semi-pro sports, but they cannot afford to keep an Olympic village on campus all year round. The requirements for athletes are somewhat lower from a sports point of view, but they are required to deliver more from them in their studies. Such universities are not entitled to issue full ride scholarships, but you can get good funding. For this, scholarships for sports, for academic achievement and for supporting those in need are combined.|
|D3||✓||✓||×||There are most of these universities, sport in them is really amateur. Competitions between these universities are held only at the regional level, and athletes have no official advantages over other students. They are expected to perform as academically as everyone else and are not entitled to any special payments. Playing on the university team is just a hobby after school for them.|
If you are looking to receive funding as an athlete, be sure to make sure the institution you plan to enroll in is not a D3. On this service, you can sort American educational institutions by division.
Applying for a sports scholarship in the USA
Unlike academic peers, the athletic scholarship is less formal. To get it, you need to convince the university coach to take you on the team and provide funding. They usually approve a scholarship for the best players on the team who cannot afford to pay for their studies.
However, there are a few preliminary steps you need to take to qualify for an athletic scholarship:
- Understand which division is right for you. It’s not just a matter of ability, but also of how willing you are to commit to sports at university. Perhaps you are a master of sports, but you do not want to do it 50 hours a week because there will be almost no time for study. You will graduate and have a unique experience, but will it be easy to get a job with a GPA of about 2 out of 4? This is the subject of fierce debate in American society;
- Gather the required documents. In addition to the usual documents required for admission to a bachelor’s degree, you will need all kinds of information about sports achievements and personal indicators, as well as video cutting of the best moments from performances or training. This is a short video that will reveal your best side. In addition, to participate in D1 and D2, you must first be certified. To do this, register on the NCAA Eligibility Center portal, fill out the form and submit your SAT / ACT results. The cost of this service is 150 USD;
- Select the universities to which you will apply and write down the contact details of the team coaches and their assistants. Prepare Your Social Media – Remove any content that could make you look bad. Instead, it is worth posting more photos from competitions and motivational posts.
- Contact your coach in advance. They receive hundreds of emails from aspiring young athletes, so yours should stand out. Approach it professionally: prepare it individually for each trainer, reflect the key information directly in the “topic” field. Design your letter so that it is easy to read and quickly gets its message across to the recipient. Tell us why you are interested in the sports program and why you think you will benefit the coach and the team;
- Correspondence with the coach must be carried on constantly. Applying for a sports scholarship is not tied to the deadline for submitting an application to the university – it makes sense to do it a year and a half before admission. After the coach verbally agrees to accept you into the team, you can confirm that you accept the invitation. After that, go to university and get involved in the sports life of the university. Getting paid depends only on how you build your relationship with the coach. Please note that admission to the team by correspondence will, of course, somewhat simplify admission, but if you do not meet the minimum requirements of the university, you will still not be able to get into its walls.