The question, “How rare is a full-ride athletic scholarship?” depends on a lot of variables. But for the most part, the answer is pretty rare.
Full-ride athletic scholarships aren’t that common unless you’re an incredible athlete, or you’re signing with an NCAA Division I head-count sport. These days, the percentage of high school athletes earning some athletic scholarship aid is as low as 2%. So, the percentage is even less for those receiving a full-ride athletic scholarship.
Naturally, each sport is different. Some programs are required to offer full-ride scholarships, and others can divide them into small portions.
To fully understand the rarity of receiving full-ride athletic scholarships, think about these factors below.
There are six Division I sports that can only offer a full-ride scholarship to their athletes: FBS football, men’s and women’s Basketball, tennis, women’s gymnastics, and women’s volleyball. These programs are called head-count sports.
The sports listed above can only offer a full-ride athletic scholarship or nothing. As a result, a lot of athletes are walk-ons and have other awards to help offset the cost of tuition.
Insider tip: If any of these six sports aren’t fully funded by the school then they can divide up their scholarships. All other sports use the equivalency model, which allows coaches to divide up their available scholarships.
To learn more about athletic scholarships, click here.
The Partial or Equivalency Scholarship Model
At the NCAA D-I and D-II level, depending on the sport, coaches can provide athletes with partial scholarships. The NCAA refers to this as the equivalency or partial scholarship model. This model is how most college athletes earn athletic scholarships.
Unlike head-count programs, sports that use this model can divide their scholarships up to as many athletes as they want.
Even though a program can give out partial scholarships, this doesn’t mean they can’t offer a full-ride athletic scholarship. It just isn’t all that likely because these coaches want to have a full roster. Additionally, providing athletic aid to a larger number of athletes ensures more participation.
Insider tip: Just because an athlete hasn’t earned a full-ride athletic scholarship doesn’t mean they can’t receive a full-ride to college. With the equivalency model, athletes can combine multiple scholarships awards and financial aid, which can equal a full-ride.
For a list of athletic scholarships per sport, click here.
Position based scholarships
Some positions receive more scholarship money because of the impact it has on a program.
For instance, a softball or baseball pitcher typically receive more scholarship money than an outfielder or a first baseman. The same goes for a goalie in soccer or a track sprinter.
Regardless, it’s up to the coach to determine which positions and players receive an athletic scholarship and for what amount. Every team and coach handles their scholarship money differently.
Our advice is to research your position and find out what the average scholarship amount is, that way you know what to expect.
Don’t be discouraged if your sport or position doesn’t offer a full-ride athletic scholarship. You can still earn a full-ride with academic money, financial aid packages, need-based scholarships, federal and state grants, and anything else you may qualify to receive.
We find that a lot of athletes can combine their athletic scholarships with some other awards and earn a full-ride scholarship.
Since full-ride athletic scholarships are rare, we encourage all athletes to know their options. If a sport at the D-I level is a head-count sport, and you’re not being offered a scholarship, look at the D-II or NAIA levels. They may not provide a full-ride athletic scholarship, but they can get you close if your grades and test scores are good.
If you need help evaluating where you fit athletically and academically, contact an NSR scout today. Our team of qualified scouts will be able to help you!