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What You Need To Know About An Ivy League Athletic Scholarship

How to get an Ivy League Athletic Scholarship

If you’re looking at Ivy League schools — eight academically prestigious schools like Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale — you’re at student at the top of your class. Since the Ivy League plays against NCAA Division I schools, you’re also a gifted athlete who can meet the specific measurables required in your sport.

But the Ivy league recruiting process differs in some significant ways from other Division I schools’ searches for their next class of recruits. Here are some of the top questions we hear about pursuing an Ivy League athletic scholarship.

Can I receive an Ivy League athletic scholarship?

There are no Ivy League athletic scholarships. I’m emphasizing that so there won’t be any question in your mind.

That’s not to say that student-athletes would have to pay their way to receive an education at an Ivy League school. Instead, Ivy Leagues only base their financial aid decisions on a family’s demonstrated need.

In many cases, Ivy League schools are able to meet the majority of the cost of tuition; at most, families with an annual income less than $65,000 don’t make any contribution to their student-athlete’s education, while families with an annual household income between $65-$180,000 could be expected to contribute somewhere between 10 to 18 percent.

Should I be a college athlete at an Ivy League school?

Let’s answer that question with another question: Do you want to attend an Ivy League school?

If you have the academic background (and SAT/ACT scores) to back up your application, and you think an Ivy League school would be a good social and academic fit for your degree, you should certainly pursue opportunities on an Ivy League roster — along with pursuing opportunities at other schools. Remember, there’s a reason the Ivy League schools are in that league; their admissions process is rigorous.

While college coaches can help student-athletes they are seriously recruiting, they can’t force through an application that Ivy League admissions offices would otherwise reject. So work both ends of the process: keep your grades up and be involved in extracurricular activities so you can impress the admissions officers, and be good about communicating with coaches at other schools so you don’t miss an opportunity to play in college.

What steps should I take to get recruited at an Ivy League school?

As with any school, the recruiting starts with establishing a digital recruiting presence, and communicating with college coaches. You’ll get a better sense of how strongly an Ivy League coach is recruiting you as you progress through high school.

Since there are no Ivy League athletic scholarships, student-athletes who are interested in joining an Ivy League roster don’t need to sign a National Letter of Intent. Instead, a coach can work with the admissions office at the institution to send you a “likely” letter, which isn’t a guaranteed acceptance letter, but will help you understand where you stand in the applicant pool.

As you develop a relationship with a coach at an Ivy League school, you can ask questions like how often students with “likely” letters are accepted, or how many “likely” letters the coach has sent this year.

Should I accept another offer instead of playing at an Ivy League school?

This is another question where you, and your parents, will need to weigh your options. What is the other offer? How much is included in it? How academically prestigious is the other school — will you be able to pursue a degree in your field from it?

Another factor that could impact your decision is timing. The recruiting timeline for an Ivy League school can be a little delayed compared to other Division I schools, as this video further explains.


Our recruiting experts can help you understand what playing opportunities are right for you, and how you can get in contact with coaches at Ivy League and other schools. Get started by building a recruiting profile.

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.