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Financial Aid for Men’s College Rowing

men's rowing athletes

For many athletes going through the rowing recruiting process, snagging a rowing scholarship to a great school is the ultimate goal. However, it is important to note that athletic scholarships in men’s rowing are not very common and often reserved for top-tier athletes at only select colleges, as most colleges don’t offer rowing scholarships because of either their division level or league. In this section, we explain rowing scholarship requirements and answer families’ most-asked questions about getting men’s college rowing scholarships.

Are there men’s rowing scholarships?

Yes, athletes can find men’s rowing scholarships, but these are difficult to earn. A large portion of men’s rowing teams are NCAA D3 or Ivy League and do not offer athletic scholarships. There are also many teams that operate on a tight budget, as rowing is an expensive sport, or deem that offering admission help into a very good school is enough of a draw for recruits. You’ll have to be proactive in the recruiting process and stand out athletically to earn an athletic scholarship.

However, teams do work with student-athletes and their families to secure financial aid from colleges, whether that is need-based aid or academic scholarships. Even if you do not receive athletic scholarship money, you can potentially receive a considerable financial aid package from a college that looks just as appealing as an athletic scholarship. That’s why it is important to focus on what your overall financial assistance will look like and not just an athletic scholarship amount.

How many men’s rowing scholarships are there?

To put it simply, there are not many men’s rowing scholarships available. A large portion of men’s rowing teams are located at NCAA Division 3 or Ivy League colleges, neither of which give out athletic scholarships. Additionally, many teams are located at academically rigorous colleges that can perhaps offer an easier path through the admissions process but are not willing to offer athletic scholarship money. Schools that do offer athletic scholarship dollars—like University of California-Berkeley, Northeastern University, Boston University, University of Washington or Stanford University—tend to have extremely high athletic standards.

However, coaches at some colleges can help rowers secure academic scholarships and need-based aid, as well as bump up their application at the admissions office. For most athletes, rowing is not a path to big athletic scholarship dollars as much as it is a way to get the attention of top academic institutions.

The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that loosened regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Effective August 1, 2020, teams in equivalency sports like rowing will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against a team’s maximum athletic scholarship limit. Prior to this rule change, athletes had to meet a set of criteria for their additional financial aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.

Rowing teams will still have a maximum athletic scholarship cap, but student-athletes can seek to add as much need-based aid and academic scholarships as they qualify for. This rule change should allow rowing programs that have the funds to extend more money to families and athletes that need it—especially at pricier private schools with higher tuition.

Rowing scholarship erg times for men’s rowing

There is no hard erg time number that will score you an athletic scholarship. The bottom end for earning an athletic scholarship at the college level is likely in the 6:40s, but even this depends on a variety of factors, and athletic scholarships for non-elite rowers are rare.

A recruit’s 2k erg time, academics, character and experience are all considered, but there are no athletic scholarships awarded by NCAA Division 3 or Ivy league (Division 1) colleges—though these colleges do help athletes secure other types of funds. That’s why it’s important to start your recruiting process early, research a target list of colleges and keep an open mind about which college can offer the best athletic, academic and financial fit.

Finding colleges that offer rowing scholarships

The best way to find colleges that offer rowing scholarships is to stay proactive in the college recruiting process and reach out directly to coaches. Athletic budgets for teams change and coaches can also choose how much money to allocate for scholarships and how to disperse it. To specifically find an athletic scholarship for men’s collegiate rowing, you’ll want to look at the list of rowing colleges and look outside NCAA Division 3 and Ivy League schools as they do not offer athletic scholarships—though they can help secure academic scholarships and need-based aid. Top rowing programs like University of Washington, University of California-Berkeley, Northeastern University, Boston University and Stanford University recruit elite athletes aggressively, so these athletic scholarships are difficult to secure. Here’s how rowing scholarships break down by different levels:

For recruits looking to find athletic scholarship money, a great resource to use is NCSA’s list of Best Men’s Rowing Colleges.

How to get a rowing scholarship

Getting a rowing scholarship is based on a combination of athletic ability, academics and diligence in the recruiting process. You’ll not only have to be a standout athletic and academic prospect, but you’ll also have to find the sweet spot of colleges that actually offer rowing scholarships and have an available budget. Some of the top high school rowers in the country (and the world) enroll at schools like Yale, Harvard and Brown, which, as Ivy League colleges, do not offer athletic scholarships. To get a rowing scholarship, you’ll want to make sure you have top-notch grades and test scores, meet the 2k standards for top tier colleges and be proactive in reaching out to college coaches to find a team that is offering scholarship money.

Coxswain scholarships

Scholarships for coxswains are very rare. Finding an athletic scholarship for a rowing recruit is already difficult, and there are far fewer roster spots (and boat seats) available for coxswains. It is not unheard of, but coxswains need to set realistic expectations for their college recruiting process. 

How to get recruited for college rowing

A large number of men’s rowing teams are located at colleges that have high academic standards and potential recruits need to make sure that they will be a fit for a college both by athletic and academic standards. You’ll also want to work hard on your team, whether that’s at the local rowing club or at your high school so that you develop athletically, improve your technique, lower your 2k time and hopefully get a recommendation from your coach. In addition to your rowing focus, you’ll have to focus on the recruiting process, reach out to college coaches, target the right colleges and stay on top of the recruiting timeline.

When does the rowing recruiting process start?

The rowing recruiting process starts freshman year when you start attending high school. Officially, NCAA D1 coaches are able to start communicating with recruits starting on June 15 after sophomore year. But you’ll want to already be ready for this date by the time it rolls around. In your first two years of high school, you should research schools, build a target list of colleges, keep training, attend rowing camps if you can, create a highlight video if your technique looks good and stay on top of your grades. Once June 15 after sophomore year arrives, you will have to be proactive about contacting college coaches in order to go after crew scholarships.