NCAA Rules on Outside Scholarships

For high school student-athletes who plan to play a sport at an NCAA Division I or II university, it’s important to remember some key points if you receive a scholarship from your high school, local civic club, parent’s employer, or other organization.  Local organizations providing these scholarships should also keep these key points in mind.

The NCAA considers any financial aid for an athlete that comes from a source other than their family, or the college or university they are attending, to be “financial aid from outside sources.”

There are two categories of aid from outside sources:  “no relationship to athletics ability,” and “aid from an established and continuing program” to aid students.

Here are some key points regarding outside scholarships:

No relationship to athletics ability:

If a scholarship program, such as through a local civic club or through the business where an athlete’s parent is employed, requests or encourages an applicant to include their athletic participation or achievements as part of the application process, it can’t be classified in this category.  The organization that awards the scholarship may be asked to confirm that it did not consider athletics participation or achievements in selecting the athlete who is awarded the scholarship.

Financial aid from an established and continuing program to aid students:

If a scholarship program considers the athlete’s athletics participation and achievements among the criteria for awarding the scholarship, and especially if applicants or nominees are required to be an athlete in order to be considered for a scholarship, then that scholarship will automatically be considered to be in this category.

Student-athletes can accept scholarships from an organization in this situation without consequence, as long as the donor organization does not restrict the athlete’s choice of college he or she attends, and there can’t be a direct connection between the donor organization and the college. Otherwise, the scholarship would have to be counted toward the team scholarship limit in that sport, as if it were awarded to the athlete by the coaching staff.

Scholarships in this category should be sent to the financial aid office of the college the recipient will be attending so that the aid will be properly tracked for NCAA limits.

Athletes attending an NCAA Division I or II university will likely be asked to indicate on a form for their athletic department whether they are the recipient of an outside scholarship.  In addition, the awarding organization may be asked to provide a copy of their application or nomination form and a list of criteria for the scholarship.

If you have questions about the application of the rules on outside financial aid awards or other questions about athletic scholarships, call Rick Allen at 913-766-1235 or send an email to .

About Rick Allen

25+ years NCAA Rules Expertise, including Director of Compliance at 2 major DI schools

Former President of National Association for Athletic Compliance (NAAC)

Conducts compliance reviews and audits at NCAA Schools throughout the U.S.

Consulted with NAIA schools transitioning to NCAA membership status

Dad of a DI & DII student-athlete

More posts by
View Comments

Comments are closed.