The NCAA and the NAIA, the major associations that oversee college athletics in the United States, have strict rules on who's eligible to play sports for those universities. To ensure that student-athletes have met these requirements, they use a national student clearinghouse, sub-organizations that are officially called the NCAA Eligibility Center and the NAIA Eligibility Center. To be cleared to play by a national clearinghouse, players must meet academic standards while amateurism must also be maintained.
The national clearinghouse helps simplify the process by providing a simple response as far as if you're eligible or not. As a result of using a clearinghouse, the universities don't need to handle this themselves and can focus on other matters. Also, a national clearing house ensures that each of the schools follows the same rules. As a result, somebody who is not approved by the NCAA Eligibility Center may not play at any NCAA Division I or II institution. However, Division III athletes are not required to be approved by the national clearinghouse.
The national clearing house also simplifies the process for high schools so that coaches, counselors, and others better understand what their students need to be approved, and it allows parents to do the same. However, it's important to consider that national clearinghouse guidelines may not be as stringent as the ones set up by individual schools and approval by a national student clearinghouse does not ensure acceptance for admission by any institution. For example, places such as Army, Navy, Air Force and the eight Ivy League institutions have other requirements that must be met by every student looking to attend those places beyond what's required by the clearinghouse.
What about the national student clearinghouse?
A similar organization that works with the general student bodies at high schools and colleges throughout the country is the National Student Clearinghouse.
This nongovernmental and nonprofit organization focuses on verifying things such as the validity of college transcripts so that resume fraud, the usage of information that doesn't coincide with college transcripts, can be prevented and accumulating data and reporting on educational trends that can be used by these institutions. The information that's provided by the National Student Clearinghouse is especially accurate for colleges as 99% of the students at those institutions are involved with its work. Conversely, its high school information is detailed as well as 70% of high schools work with the National Student Clearinghouse.
One of the features that the National Student Clearinghouse offers college graduates is a National Student Clearinghouse transcript. To order national clearinghouse transcripts, insert your college's name here to see if this is a possibility for your school. Delivery options for your National Student Clearinghouse transcript vary considerably from school to school, but, in most cases, national clearinghouse transcripts can be received electronically or through the post or picked up.
However, it's important to consider that the National Student Clearinghouse does not determine eligibility to play sports in college. That must happen through the clearing house sub-organizations that have set up for that purpose.
National clearinghouse requirements
To meet the requirements that have been set forth by the NCAA clearing house, you must pass some national clearinghouse guidelines.
The academic requirements set forth by the student clearinghouse consider what's on your official transcript and your ACT or SAT scores. Note that the GPA listed on your official transcript is not what the NCAA Clearinghouse is paying attention to. When determining your NCAA eligibility, it's solely considering what it has defined as core courses. For that reason, ensure that you're taking those courses as some student-athletes don't get approved because they didn't take the necessary courses. Keep in mind that being academically eligible to play sports in high school has no bearing on your NCAA eligibility.
The NCAA Clearinghouse uses a sliding scale to determine eligibility. For example, in the case of Division I institutions, if your core GPA is 3.55, you need to have recorded an SAT score of at least 400 or an ACT score of at least 37. Conversely, if your core GPA is 2.3, your test-scoring requirements have moved up considerably to a minimum of 980 for your SAT score or a 75 for your act score. Meanwhile, a GPA of 3.0 results in SAT and ACT minimum requirements of 720 and 52, respectively.
As far as the timelines for your SAT or ACT sign up go, you should register roughly a month before the test day. It might be preferred to complete your SAT or ACT sign up late in your junior year as opposed to during your senior year. You can take either or both tests multiple times, up to 12 in the case of the ACT and unlimited for the SAT. However, you should aim to take either around 1-3 times.
Your SAT and ACT scores will be available about a week and a half to two weeks later. Schools only require one or the other as you don't need to take both tests to apply to the same institution or to be approved by the national clearinghouse. Many recommend focusing on one, but there are some benefits to taking both. For example, you may end up unexpectedly doing well on one when you thought you would've scored higher on the other.
In regards to amateurism rules set forth by the national clearinghouse, you must not have received any compensation for playing sports that exceeds the expenses that were necessary to do so, and you cannot have received any payment from media outlets or advertisers that was a result of your playing ability other than necessary expenses. This is a national clearinghouse requirement that tends to trip up international students more often than American ones since so many who are involved with youth sports in the U.S. understand these requirements. Regardless, even in the U.S., you must be careful to ensure your amateurism status to receive approval from the national guideline clearinghouse.
National clearing house registration
All prospective NCAA student-athletes should register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. This includes those who are unsure of their plans or who will attend a Division III institution as the national clearinghouse registration process is a simple one and results in several useful benefits. Plus, you can move your already-completed national clearinghouse profile to the certification stage should you later need to be approved to play Division I or II sports. Being certified is a requirement for Division I and II student-athletes, but national clearinghouse registration is optional for student-athletes heading to a Division III school.
If you need to be certified by the NCAA Clearinghouse, set aside 30-45 minutes to complete your certification account. You can save your process if you need to leave your clearinghouse form instead of finishing it in one go. Before settling down to do this, you should have a list of items on hand:
- A valid email address that will remain accessible after completing high school.
- The email must be unique to that person as two or more people who are registering cannot share the same email account
- Personal information such as name, address, and date of birth
- Details of the high schools that you've attended
- Details on the sports that you've played
- It costs $90 if you're American or Canadian, $150 if you're not
- A fee waiver is approved if you received one for your ACT or SAT fee
The information on the sports that you've played, and payment are only necessary for a certification account. The remaining information is needed, however, for all who register. For those needing to be certified, expect the decision to take approximately 2-3 weeks. However, this length of time will vary, depending on the time of year – doing so outside of spring and summer will quicken that – and if your case is complex as that will tend to lengthen it.
If recruited by one or more Division I or II programs, you should register with the student clearinghouse by your junior year.
The NAIA, which oversees 250 schools in the United States, Canada, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, has its own national clearinghouse guidelines. One of these is that registering with this national clearinghouse and doing things such as sending your official transcript is necessary to ensure NAIA eligibility. You should do this around the summer between your junior and senior years. Note that every NAIA student-athletes must have registered with this national guideline clearinghouse as there are no exceptions for NAIA student-athletes as is the case for their NCAA Division III counterparts.
To register, head here and allow about 10-15 minutes to complete the process. Consider that registration costs $80 for American and Canadian students and $135 for those from other countries although a fee waiver is possible. Afterward, you should submit documentation to prove that you meet the requirements of this national guideline clearinghouse. Transcripts can be sent electronically after registering while you also need to ensure that the NAIA receives your ACT and SAT test scores.
The NAIA's national guideline clearinghouse requires that students meet two of three standards. These include scoring either an 18 or above on the ACT or a 970 or above on the SAT, have a GPA of at least 2.0 when using a 4.0 scale and being in the top half of their school's class. Just two of these three are required as some students are significantly better at test-taking or schoolwork while being in the top half of a class can be uncharacteristically difficult at highly competitive institutions.
Those who are already in college and transferring schools before playing at the new institution need to meet transfer-specific national clearing house regulations. These rules differ depending on if you're going from an NAIA school to an NCAA school, vice versa. Transferring schools within those organizations or heading to a four-year institution from a junior college. The main exception is that those transferring to an NCAA Division III college are not required to complete this process.
NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) is well versed in helping student-athletes know what's required of them by clearinghouses and helping them get into contact with and impress college coaches. It's been doing so since it was founded by Chris Krause in 2000. He'd successfully navigated his own recruiting process in the 1980s before securing his fit as a football player at Vanderbilt University. However, he was disturbed by how confusing his experience was and wanted to ensure that those who followed in his footsteps would receive more positive experiences than he did.
Over the years, NCSA has overseen a network that includes 35,000 coaches and helps 25,000 NCSA athletes commit to a school to play sports there every year. It has received numerous positive reviews as a result of its work as partially seen by its Google Reviews score of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars with 1,700 reviews having been posted. Its testimonials include this one from a parent of a women's soccer player who headed to the University of Missouri in 2017: "My daughter's recruiting coach was a huge help and … was really cheering her on and working for her success."
If you'd like to be added to this community and to better understand the recruiting process so that you can find the best fit athletically, academically and culturally, get the process started today and fill out your free profile. Deciding where to go to college is one of the most important ones that you'll make, so it's recommended to have assistance as you make this decision. Do make sure to call 866 495-5172 should you have any questions about what NCSA can offer you or to help you fill out that form.