NLI Banner

Home/Dates About the NLI NLI Provisions FAQs Release & Appeals Document Library Signing Tutorial

Athletic Scholarships

Does the NCAA award athletic scholarships?

Individual schools award athletic scholarships, not the NCAA. Division I and II schools offer athletic scholarships. Division III schools offer academic scholarships only. NCAA members provide more than $1.5 billion in athletics scholarships annually.


Is an athletic scholarship guaranteed for four years?

At a minimum, an athletic scholarship must be a one academic year agreement.  In Division I, institutions are permitted to offer multiyear scholarships. Athletic scholarships may be renewed and the school must notify the student-athlete in writing by July 1 whether the athletic scholarship will be renewed for the next academic year. Individual schools have appeal policies for scholarships that are reduced or not renewed. In most cases, the coach decides who gets a scholarship, what it covers and whether it will be renewed.


What do athletics scholarships cover?

Division I and II institutions are permitted to provide a student-athlete with tuition and fees, room, board and required course-related books.


Can student-athletes receive other, non-athletic financial aid?

Yes. Thousands of student-athletes benefit from academic scholarships and need-based aid, such as federal Pell Grants. In addition, there is money available from the NCAA's own Student-Athlete Opportunity Fund. Sometimes student-athletes cannot accept certain types of aid because of NCAA amateurism or financial aid requirements. Student-athletes and parents with questions on additional financial aid should check with their athletic department or college financial aid office.


Is an athletic scholarship the same thing as a National Letter of Intent?

No, but they are often confused with each other. By signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI), a future NCAA student-athlete ends the recruiting process with all other NLI institutions and commits to a school for one year. In return, the student-athlete is guaranteed a one-year scholarship from that school. The NLI seeks to limit recruiting pressure but signing one is not a required step to earning an athletic scholarship.


Do many high school athletes earn athletics scholarships?

Very few in fact. According to recent statistics, about 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded athletics scholarships to compete in college. This small number means high school student-athletes and their parents need to have realistic expectations about receiving an athletic scholarship to play sports in college. Academic, not athletic, achievement is the most reliable path to success in life.