Even if you are an amazing high school athlete, the likelihood of you earning an athletic scholarship is probably much smaller than you may think
There are almost 8 million high school student athletes.
In almost every sport the conversion percentage of high school athletes to college athletes is very low as only about 2% of high school athletes earn athletic scholarships each year.
But many of those who are recruited and make the cut receive some form of athletic aid.
In most sports full ride athletic scholarships are extremely rare and coaches split a small number of full scholarship equivalents among a large number of recruited student athletes.
There is also no such thing as a four-year scholarship. All NCAA athletic scholarships must be renewed and are not guaranteed year to year. This warning is stated in bold letters on the NCAA web site for student-athletes. Nearly every scholarship can be canceled for almost any reason in any year.
That said, even a partial athletic scholarship is helpful. And sometimes athletic awards will be combined with other grants & scholarships since athletic recruits often have a big advantage in the admissions process.
But, it is very important for athletic recruits to do their homework and gain a clear understanding of the net price of each target school before committing to an offer provided by a coach!
At each level, there are a maximum number of scholarships that schools can award for each sport. Scholarshipstats.com provides an excellent breakdown.
For example, the scholarship limit for Division I men’s soccer is 9.9 scholarships and for Division II it is 9. In women’s soccer, the Division I limit is 14 and for Division II it is 9.9.
The scholarship maximums are higher for women’s programs because many colleges need to offset the 85 scholarships awarded to football players in order to comply with gender equity regulations.
These are the maximum number of scholarships allowed per year for all players, not just the incoming class. Due to financial constraints in the non-revenue sports at most schools, many college coaches are allocated a smaller number of scholarships than the rules allow.
Headcount sports vs. Equivalency sports
Most sports are equivalency sports, which means that the scholarship funding can be sliced and diced and awarded in small pieces to many players.
For example, in a men’s soccer program that is budgeted for the maximum 9.9 scholarship equivalents, the coach can split the scholarship money among 25 players. While a superstar might be offered a full scholarship at some schools, most players will be offered much smaller slices – perhaps a half; a third; a quarter; or nothing at all.
For head count sports, the scholarship limit is absolute, and the number of student athletes receiving awards cannot exceed the stated maximum. D I football programs, for example, can award no more than 85 scholarships a year and men’s basketball no more than 13. On the women’s side, the headcount sports are basketball, gymnastics, tennis and volleyball.
The upside for student athletes in headcount sports is that most awarded scholarships are full rides.