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things you may not know about athletic scholarships in 2023/2024

Athletic scholarships can be a game-changer for student-athletes looking to pursue a college education. These scholarships provide financial assistance to exceptional athletes in various sports, helping them cover the cost of tuition, room and board, and other college expenses. While many students aspire to secure an athletic scholarship, there are several important aspects about these scholarships that you may not know, particularly in the context of the 2023/2024 academic year.

Fewer Students Earn Athletic Scholarships Than You Think:

Contrary to popular belief, the number of students who earn athletic scholarships is quite low. According to Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), less than 2% of high-school athletes receive some form of athletic scholarship, and most of these scholarships do not cover the full cost of schooling. In fact, the chances of earning an athletic scholarship are often slimmer than gaining admission to Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, or Yale.

Full-Ride Scholarships Are Even Rarer:
While the idea of a full-ride scholarship covering the entire college bill may seem enticing, these scholarships are incredibly rare. Only six college sports offer full-ride scholarships, which include tuition, room and board, books, and sometimes living expenses. These sports are men's football, men's basketball, women's basketball, women's gymnastics, women's tennis, and women's volleyball. Furthermore, full-ride scholarships are primarily available at the Division I and II levels, which are the most athletically competitive divisions.

Sports Scholarships Are Not One and Done:

Unlike academic scholarships that are often guaranteed for four years, athletic scholarships need to be renewed annually. Student-athletes must maintain a certain GPA and continue to excel in their sport to retain their scholarships. Additionally, if an athlete sustains an injury that impacts their ability to participate, their scholarship may be at risk.

College Sports Can Limit Everything Else:

Being a scholarship athlete requires significant time commitment to practices, games, and sometimes even public appearances. Balancing these demands with class schedules can make it challenging for student-athletes to maintain the minimum GPA required to keep their scholarships. Many athletes spend a substantial amount of time studying with team tutors to stay on top of their schoolwork, leaving limited time for social activities, part-time jobs, volunteer projects, and other extracurriculars.

It’s Crucial to Get Offers in Writing:

When a student is recruited by a college sports team, the coach may offer attractive scholarship aid and other accommodations. However, it's important to remember that verbal promises are not binding guarantees. To ensure the offer is official, it must appear in writing in the college's official financial aid award letter. Relying solely on verbal agreements can lead to misunderstandings or changes in the offer.

In conclusion, athletic scholarships can provide valuable opportunities for student-athletes to pursue higher education. However, it's essential to understand the realities of athletic scholarships in the 2023/2024 academic year. With a low percentage of students receiving scholarships, the rarity of full-ride scholarships, the need for annual renewal, the potential limitations on other activities, and the importance of written offers, student-athletes and their families should consider a holistic approach to financial aid and explore other scholarship opportunities and resources.