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NCAA Eligibility Requirements for Student-Athletes

IMG student-athlete in classroom

The NCAA determines a student-athlete’s eligibility based on their academic preparedness and amateurism status. In April 2020, the NCAA loosened initial eligibility restrictions for high-school athletes in response to the academic disruptions caused by COVID-19. The changes were extended to the classes of 2021 and 2022, and now, students who intend to play D1 or D2 sports for the 2023-24 school year will enjoy the same benefits.

Read on to learn more about the current and past eligibility requirements for student-athletes, so you can better prepare for your future. 

NCAA eligibility rules and academic requirements

The NCAA determines an athlete’s academic eligibility using a combination of their SAT/ACT test scores, high school coursework and core course GPA. 

75 percent of college student-athletes will have no issue meeting the academic minimums laid out by the NCAA. That said, just because you are a good student doesn’t mean you can assume you’ll meet the academic eligibility rules. Every year, student-athletes with 3.5+ GPAs and honors courses are declared academically ineligible due to not meeting one of the following NCAA eligibility requirements. 

Remember, even though high-school student-athletes graduating in 2023 are allowed to use pass/fail grades for core courses and are not required to take the ACT or SAT to meet eligibility, this may not apply for future grad years. Be sure to stay up-to-date with the latest NCAA academic eligibility requirements.  

NCAA amateurism requirements

The cornerstone of the amateurism rules is that student-athletes are not allowed to have received prize money (beyond the reimbursement for participation); they can’t have signed a contract with or receive benefits from an agent; they can’t receive money for promotion of products or services; and they are not allowed to make money by use of their athletic ability or fame. Additionally, student-athletes are prohibited from delaying their full-time collegiate enrollment to compete in organized sports.

Insider Tip: The NCAA does not answer questions about what you can and can’t do regarding amateurism. If you have questions about maintaining your amateurism status, you can get more information on our amateurism rules page.

NCAA Division 1 eligibility requirements

For high-school athletes graduating in 2022 or 2023 and enrolling in college full-time in 2022-23 or 2023-24: 

For high school athletes graduating in 2024 and beyond (based on typical requirements from previous years):

NCAA Division 2 eligibility requirements

For high-school athletes graduating in 2021 or 2022 and enrolling in college full-time in 2022-23 or 2023-24:

For high school athletes graduating in 2024 and beyond (based on typical requirements from previous years):

NCAA Division 3 eligibility requirements

Division 3 schools are responsible for setting their own academic eligibility rules. If you are going to be competing for a D3 institution, or if you are unsure what division level you’ll be competing at, you can start with a free NCAA Profile page. If you do decide to pursue a D1 or D2 program, you can always transition to a Certification Account later.

Academic status: What your academic status with the NCAA means

The NCAA will only review an athlete’s eligibility status if their status has been requested by a D1 or D2 college. This process will begin once you graduate high school, complete a minimum of 16 core courses—with a minimum 2.3 GPA average in these courses—and earn a qualifying ACT or SAT test score. If you’re graduating high-school in 2022 or 2023, the NCAA is no longer requiring ACT or SAT test scores. However, you must earn a minimum core course GPA.

You also need to request your final amateurism certification from the NCAA Eligibility Center. Once the NCAA reviews your account, they will assign you an “Academic Status.” Here are the various statuses you could receive and what they mean:

NCAA eligibility FAQs

What are the NCAA academic eligibility requirements? 

To meet NCAA academic eligibility requirements, student-athletes must: 
• Complete a certain number of high school core courses 
• Earn a certain minimum GPA in these core courses 
• Earn a certain minimum score on the SAT or ACT 
• Graduate from high school 

How long do you have NCAA eligibility? 

NCAA eligibility rules allow student-athletes 5 years to compete athletically in 4 seasons.