Women’s lacrosse is rapidly growing in the United States. The NCAA added ten new Division 3 women’s lacrosse programs, and one new program at both the Division 1 and 2 level. The NCAA is expected to introduce 14 additional programs across the three divisions for the 2020-21 school year.
Despite this exciting growth, the athletic scholarship budget for college lacrosse programs remains small and competition high. We’ve written this section to help student-athletes understand their scholarship options and what their chances are of receiving a women’s lacrosse scholarship.
|Division Level||Number of Teams||Total Athletes||Average Team Size||Scholarships Limit Per Team*||Scholarships Limit Type**|
*Scholarship limit per team: The NCAA limits the number of scholarships that a program can award each year by setting a scholarship limit per team. Though, not all programs reach the total maximum number of scholarships listed above because not all programs are fully funded. Program funding is not made public; therefore, we cannot truly know how many scholarships are available each year. Ivy League schools are the only programs that do not award athletic scholarships and instead provide qualified students with academic scholarships.
**Equivalency scholarship: Equivalency sports, like lacrosse, are given a pool of scholarship money that college coaches can divide up amongst recruits and current roster players. For example, if a lacrosse coach is given the equivalent of 12 scholarships, they can divide that funding among 25 lacrosse players. With such a small lacrosse scholarship budget, full-rides are rare. Instead, student-athletes typically receive partial scholarships.
The NCAA D1 Council adopted legislation that loosened regulation regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships that are not tied to athletic ability. Beginning August 1, 2020, lacrosse teams will not have any athletes’ need- and academic-based aid count against the maximum athletic scholarship limit. Prior to this ruling, athletes had to meet certain criteria for their additional aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.
Lacrosse 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. With school and family budgets being impacted by the coronavirus, this rule change should allow lacrosse programs that have the funds to extend more money to families and athletes that need it—especially at pricier private colleges.
College coaches generally prioritize positions that have the largest impact on the game and directly affect scoring. For lacrosse, that position is the goalie. Following goalies, college coaches will award scholarships to their top recruits. Regardless of the position a student-athlete plays, they can better their chances of receiving a scholarship with these tips.
There are nearly 6,000 student-athletes competing at the NCAA Division 1 and 2 levels, which offer the best opportunities for lacrosse college scholarships. With so few NCAA lacrosse scholarships available, student-athletes set on receiving a scholarship to cover the cost of college will need to distinguish themselves from the competition on the field and in their relationships building with college coaches.
It’s impossible to truly know how many women’s college lacrosse scholarships are offered at each division level. The figures above represent the maximum number of scholarships allowed per program under the NCAA and NJCAA. Unfortunately, not all women’s lacrosse programs are fully funded, which means some programs have fewer than the maximum limit to offer student-athletes each year.
Scholarship money varies from program to program, as not all lacrosse programs receive the same funding. We have no way to truly know how many women’s lacrosse scholarships are available at any collegiate level. As an equivalency sport, college coaches have the freedom to award their scholarship budget however they would like, which means they can offer a few athletes a large sum of money or many athletes a smaller sum of money.
To cover the cost of college, lacrosse athletes often turn to alternative forms of financial aid, such as federal and state grants. Student-athletes can research other forms of financial aid to find opportunities that they qualify to receive.
Fully funded Division 1 women’s college lacrosse programs offer the most scholarships, though this does not mean these programs offer full rides. Because lacrosse is an equivalency sport, Division 1 lacrosse scholarships are generally awarded as partial scholarships.
Division 2 programs award partial scholarships that can cover tuition, books, room and board and other fees. Like Division 1 schools, not all lacrosse programs are fully funded, which means some programs will have less than the 9.9 maximum scholarship limit. Division 2 lacrosse scholarships are generally awarded as partial scholarships, which means student-athletes will need to rely on alternative forms of financial aid to cover costs.
Athletic scholarships are not available at the Division 3 level. Instead, Division 3 schools are known for awarding academic scholarships to student-athletes who excel in the classroom. Division 3 schools often offer better financial aid packages, with a reported 82 percent student-athletes receiving some form of financial aid at the Division 3 level.
Unlike the NCAA, there are no scholarship limits set by the NAIA, but student-athletes will find that, like the NCAA, the number of scholarships per program varies depending on how the coach chooses to award money. As a partner of the NAIA, NCSA believes student-athletes can expect to see similar scholarship opportunities as they would at the NCAA level.
Junior colleges likely offer student-athletes the only opportunity for a full scholarship. The NJCAA allows each women’s lacrosse program a maximum of 20 full-ride scholarships. Like the NCAA and NAIA, coaches choose how to divide the money amongst the team. Student-athletes attending a junior college with plans to transfer to a four-year NCAA college might face stricter GPA and standardized test score requirements when applying for a transfer.
Below is a look at the top NCAA colleges for women’s lacrosse scholarships. Student-athletes interested in these top programs should evaluate their skillset against those of the athletes on the current roster and research what tournaments and showcases these coaches attend to look for recruits.
NCAA D1: UNC, University of Virginia, Duke, University of Florida, University of California, University of Michigan, College of William & Mary, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland
NCAA D2: Bentley, Rollins, Grand Valley State, Regis, Le Moyne, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, Assumption, Florida Southern, Molloy, Lewis
NCAA D3: Amherst, Middlebury, Tufts, Williams, MIT, Washington & Lee, Wesleyan, Colby, University of Chicago, Bowdoin
Full-ride scholarships are practically unheard of in women’s lacrosse. As an “equivalency sport”, college coaches typically divide their scholarship money across multiple athletes to maximize their ability to offer financial aid. Combining a partial athletic scholarship with an academic scholarship, grant and other forms of financial aid is the closest a lacrosse athlete can get to a “full-ride”. To combine form of financial aid, student-athletes must meet academic requirements set by the NCAA.