Cost of College Financial Aid

How Much Does an Athletic Scholarship Cover? Everything, Possibly

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Just how much does an athletic scholarship cover for students?

That can be a weird question to ask because it varies so much. Some schools don’t give athletic scholarships at all, but give financial aid for academic or other merit. And there’s need-based funding to consider. (Have you filled out your FAFSA?! Exclamation point because, seriously, I want to go to everyone reading this and shake them by the shoulders until I’m sure they’ve registered at the NCAA Eligibility Center and completed a FAFSA.)

And how much an athletic scholarship covers might get even weirder

As reporters are starting to pick up, the Power 5 conferences (Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, Big 10 and ACC) have autonomy legislation up for approval, and full cost of attendance scholarships on the table after that.

What does that mean?

For schools in those five conferences, scholarship packages could expand to include multi-year scholarships, or compensating athletes for using their names and likenesses, and covering more than just tuition and fees, room and board. Like extra living expenses, or a futon to crash on after a long day of practice.

It’s still all in the works, but it does throw a new wrench in the works of understanding just what anyone means when they’re talking about scholarships.

How would this affect your college recruiting?

When Ray Lewis retired from the NFL, he told reporters that he hoped his son would get a full-ride scholarship. But, as Charlie wrote back when that news came out, there’s a balance between encouraging young student-athletes, and setting up unreasonable expectations

In this situation, parents could be setting their kids up to feel like a failure if they don’t reach the Division I level or don’t get that full ride. If they are not careful with their words, then they can make playing at other levels out to be like “settling” for second best, when in fact those other levels might be far, far better for their child than DI. Less than one percent of high school athletes will get a full ride at the DI level.

That’s an important thing to keep in mind for any of these scholarship debates at big name schools. Most conversations only entail revenue-generating sports, and only those at DI schools. And even for elite student-athletes considering Power 5 conferences, the extent of university offers depends on finding money:

“If you’re letting it get too out of hand and that money has to come from somewhere, well where’s it going to come from?” Mike Scott, director of scholarships and student financial aid at Texas Christian University told the school’s TCU360. “You just hope it’s not other financial aid programs. Here, I don’t think that would ever happen, but it could at some schools.”

Personally? We say don’t sweat about this news. We’ll tell you more about it as it develops. For now, there are more important things for you to do:

And no matter what your grad year, we’re always here to answer any questions you have about playing your sport in college, and hopefully getting some money to help you earn that degree while you’re doing it.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.