Athletic Recruiting Financial Aid

How To Understand College Recruiting for International Students

talking to each other about athletes leaving their comfort zone

(Pedro Ribeiro Simoes)

For citizens of the United States, the college admissions process can feel complicated and overwhelming.

For international student-athletes, the process requires even more documentation and verification. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, just something all international student-athletes, their coaches and families, and college administration need to know and be prepared for.

The recruiting process doesn’t have to be more complicated for international students. But you, and your families, will have to be even more diligent about having a digital presence to show your strengths, to communicate with coaches and to make sure you have your paperwork in order.

Like all NCAA rules, our team at NCSA stays up-to-date and clear when it comes to the facts and requirements around bringing on an international student-athlete. While there are many key items to be aware of, when understood properly, becoming a student-athlete at an American college or university could become both an incredible and achievable goal.

What does college recruiting for international students entail?

When you’re talking to schools in the United States about playing your sport for them, here are some of the things that should come up.

  • Under no circumstances should an international student athlete be issued a Form I-20, (certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant (F-1) student status), with the expectation of financial support from the athletics office before the student has been certified as a final qualifier by the NCAA Eligibility Center or is determined to be a partial qualifier in Division II.

What this means: You’ll need to meet certain academic standards, and sit for an exam like the SAT or ACT.

  • Student-athletes who will be receiving financial aid from the athletics department must understand that if the amount of aid is less than the amount required for issuance of the I-20, then the student will need to provide additional documentation of financial support.

What this means: The NCAA wants to be sure that you’ll have legal status while you’re in the United States.

  • Student-athletes should be informed of the true costs of attending the school and must understand the financial implications in the event of the loss of financial support from athletics.
  • Student-athletes must understand that if their scholarship is made unavailable for any reason (e.g., because the student-athlete did not meet initial-eligibility requirements as certified by the Eligibility Center), they must have other means of financial support. If sufficient finances are not available from other sources, the student risks violation of immigration status and possible deportation.
  • Athletics department staff members must understand that withdrawal of athletically related financial aid for an international student-athlete could result in severe economic hardship for the student and could result in a violation of the student’s immigration status.

What this means: You should be sure you’ll have enough financial support to cover any cost of going to school.


Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to get around regulations or fine print, and you’ll likely have to work through forms from the US Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security – SEVIS and the NCAA.

But you should remember that scouts at NCSA Athletic Recruiting are here to help you understand the process and get the most out of your recruiting. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.