We get many calls and emails from parents of student-athletes asking questions about NCAA scholarships and financial aid agreements.  There’s no doubt about it, athletic scholarship calculations can be hard to understand because of the different types of scholarships and some of the terminology used.

Examples of those differences include:

  • Power Five athletic scholarships compared to a scholarship offered by a Division I non-Power Five program. The nuances of Power Five athletic scholarships are intended to provide more scholarship “protection” to athletes at Power Five universities. But, that’s not always the case.
  • One-year scholarships compared to multi-year scholarships. NCAA Division I teams can provide scholarships that cover multiple years, while Division II teams can only provide scholarships for one year at a time.
  • “Equivalency” sports vs. “Head Count” sports. Equivalency sports are more commonly known as partial-scholarship sports because a full scholarship can be divided among multiple team members, while Head Count sports are considered to be awarding a full scholarship to each athlete who receives one (even though some programs don’t have adequate funding to provide full scholarships).
  • A scholarship that may be reduced or cancelled “during the period of the award” compared with “after the period of the award.” A coach may have the right to reduce or non-renew a scholarship for purely athletic reasons “after the period of the award” but a scholarship can’t be reduced for athletic reasons “during the period of the award.”

Do you Need Help Understanding your Athlete’s Scholarship Offer or Athletic Financial Aid Agreement?

In a confidential phone consultation, we can review your scholarship offer and give you objective advice and information related to your offer.

Examples of this include:

  • Comparing the breakdown of the award and reviewing the financial aid conditions & criteria that must be met to retain the award. (Sometimes the offer is different than the official agreement and that can create problems for the athlete down the road).
  • Reviewing the academic standards required by the school to retain the award. (Are the university’s scholarship requirements higher than what is required by the NCAA?)
  • Considering whether a revision to the scholarship offer might be appropriate.

To schedule a scholarship offer review, schedule a scholarship consultation online or call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

A head coaching change (whether the coach is fired, or leaves of their own choosing to retire or take a new job) doesn’t change anything about the steps for an athlete to navigate a transfer or about whether an athlete can be immediately eligible at their next college if they choose to transfer.

However, a coaching change in NCAA Division I CAN potentially have an impact on an athlete’s scholarship, or perhaps more accurately, on a scholarship athlete’s opportunity to continue as a member of their team at the university that has the coaching change.

That’s because a new head coach being hired at an NCAA Division I university can tell an athlete “You won’t be a member of this team next season. You can continue on scholarship here at the university until you graduate, but you won’t be a part of this team.”

The NCAA rationale for this rule is that an athlete should have the right to complete their degree at their current university while continuing on scholarship even if the new coaching staff has a “system” for which that current athlete is not a good fit or if the coach tries to “run off” the athlete.

The best example may be a football player who chose their university because the former coaches featured a pass-oriented offense, but the new coaching staff prefers a run-oriented approach.

The downside of this rule is that an athlete in this situation will, in most cases, never be able to continue on the team at their current university. That’s because the benefit to the new coaching staff is that they get to “reclaim” that scholarship to go recruit a new player while allowing the current player to continue on scholarship at the university until they complete their degree.

Do You Have Questions?

If you’d like to have a confidential detailed discussion about the Division I scholarship rules when a coaching change occurs, schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or call 913-766-1235 or email rick@informedathlete.com.

We get many calls this time of year when coaching changes are announced as Fall season sports wind down. In this article, I address some of the common questions we are asked.

Does an NCAA coaching change give me a “free” transfer?

A coaching change (whether the coach is fired or leaves of their own choosing) does not change anything about the steps to follow in a transfer or about whether an athlete can be immediately eligible at their new college upon transfer.

Does an NCAA coaching change affect my scholarship?

When a head coaching change occurs at the NCAA DI level, it is possible for the new coach to deny a returning athlete a spot on the roster. The University would be required to continue the athlete’s scholarship as long as the athlete makes satisfactory progress toward their degree. However, if the athlete wishes to continue competing in their sport, they will have to transfer in order to do so.

Does an NCAA coaching change void my NLI commitment?

When an athlete signs an NLI, they are signing with the university not with a particular coach. While some schools will grant an NLI release after a coaching change, that’s not always the case.

Do You Have Questions?

If you have questions about an NCAA coaching change and how your athlete might be affected, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or call us at 913-766-1235.

It IS possible for a recruit to sign both an NJCAA Letter of Intent with a junior college and also sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division I or II university.

Baseball and Football are the two most common sports where an athlete double-signs.

For baseball, an athlete may sign with both organizations if they want the option to go to junior college for just one year in hopes of then being drafted in the Major League Baseball draft and signing a professional contract. (Baseball players who enroll at a four-year college normally can’t be drafted until after their 3rd year of college unless they have an early birthday.)

For football, it has been somewhat common over the years to see an athlete sign with both an NCAA university and a Junior College program when the family isn’t sure whether the athlete will satisfy the NCAA academic requirements to be eligible as a freshman. The junior college the athlete signs with can then be their “Plan B” to play right away while getting bigger and stronger and then having the chance to be “re-recruited” from the junior college to an NCAA football program.

If you have questions regarding the National Letter of Intent and options available to your student-athlete, schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Wednesday, November 13 is the initial date for high school seniors to sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent in all sports other than Football.The Football signing date is December 18 for Division I programs and February 5 for Division II programs.

For athletes being recruited by junior colleges, November 1st was the first date for coaches at NJCAA member colleges to offer their NJCAA Letter of Intent to high school seniors in all sports other than Football. (The NJCAA football signing date is February 5.)

  • The National Letter of intent is not the same thing as an athletic scholarship agreement from an NCAA university. While the two documents go hand-in-hand, they are not one and the same.
  • A National Letter of Intent can’t be issued to a recruit unless that recruit is being offered an athletic scholarship. However, it is not a requirement for a recruit to sign a National Letter of Intent at the same time that they sign the university scholarship agreement being offered.
  • When a prospect signs an NLI, they are committing to attend that school for at least one full academic year in exchange for their scholarship. Once a prospect has signed an NLI, other DI and DII programs are to stop recruiting that prospect.
  • While NCAA DI universities are permitted to offer multi-year scholarships, the majority of DI athletic teams only offer one-year scholarships which are renewable each year. NCAA DII athletic programs are prohibited from offering multi-year scholarships.

We have a limited number of 30-minute private consults available Tuesday, November 12th and Wednesday, November 13th.

To be guaranteed a spot, purchase and schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or call us at 913-766-1235.

Wednesday, November 13 is the initial date for high school seniors to sign an NCAA National Letter of Intent in all sports other than Football.The Football signing date is December 18 for Division I programs and February 5 for Division II programs.

We get many phone calls this time of year asking about the NCAA National Letter of Intent.  This article provides basic facts about what the NLI and athletic scholarship are and how they work together.  I also touch on an issue that some athletes may want to consider –  whether or not they SHOULD sign a National Letter of Intent.

Basic facts about the NCAA National Letter of Intent

  • The NCAA National Letter of intent is not the same thing as an athletic scholarship agreement from an NCAA university. While the two documents go hand-in-hand, they are not one and the same.
  • A National Letter of Intent can’t be issued to a recruit unless that recruit is being offered an athletic scholarship. However, it is not a requirement for a recruit to sign a National Letter of Intent at the same time that they sign the university scholarship agreement being offered.
  • When a prospect signs an NLI, they are committing to attend that school for at least one full academic year in exchange for their scholarship. Once a prospect has signed an NLI, other DI and DII programs are to stop recruiting that prospect.
  • While NCAA DI universities are permitted to offer multi-year scholarships, the majority of DI athletic teams only offer one-year scholarships which are renewable each year. NCAA DII athletic programs are prohibited from offering multi-year scholarships.

Should you Sign an NLI…OR MAYBE NOT?

An NLI is a legal document. If an athlete signs an NLI, they are now “locked in” to the school for one full year. Getting out of the NLI once it is signed can be difficult and sometimes costly.

A benefit to NOT signing an NLI is that if there is a coaching change before the signee begins college, the athlete isn’t locked in to that university and can pursue other options.

There are pros and cons to signing a National Letter of Intent. We can explain those in a confidential phone consultation. For questions about the National Letter of Intent or about athletic scholarships, schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online or contact us at rick@informedathlete.com or 913-766-1235.

While some people believe that all college athletes who receive athletic scholarships receive “full-ride” scholarships, the truth is that athletes in the majority of college sports programs receive only “partial” athletic scholarships if they receive one at all.

Full Vs Partial Scholarships

A “full” athletic scholarship covers the following costs of college: tuition, certain course-related fees, room and board, and the value or provision of books.

A “partial” athletic scholarship will cover only a portion of those expenses. An athletic scholarship may not cover all student fees, and also may not cover things like parking fines, a single room in the dorm, library fines or late fees, etc.

Head-Count vs Equivalency Sports

In NCAA Division I, the following sports are “head-count” sports: men’s and women’s basketball, football, women’s gymnastics, women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball.

All other Division I sports, as well as all Division II sports, are “equivalency” sports. In equivalency sports, coaches can divide their scholarships up as they desire, as they long as they do not exceed the total allowable scholarship value available in their sport. A few examples in Division I are baseball with 11.7, softball with 12, and wrestling with 9.9 scholarships.

One athlete on the team may be provided with the cost of tuition, a second athlete on the team may be provided with room and board, and a third athlete on the team may only be provided the value or use of books.

A special note: NCAA DI Baseball has a requirement that the athlete must receive at minimum a 25% scholarship. No other sport has a minimum requirement.

What is NCAA “Counter” Status?

Any student-athlete who receives any amount of athletic scholarship is considered a “counter” per NCAA rules. Once a student-athlete is considered a “counter” there are situations in which other types of financial aid may be required to be “counted” as athletic financial aid.

Academic Scholarships & “Counter” Status

In addition, if a Division I student-athlete also receives an academic scholarship from their college or university due to their high school GPA or their ACT or SAT test score, the fact that they are already an NCAA “counter” may affect the value or receipt of their academic scholarship.

Once a Division I student-athlete is a “counter” all other financial aid received from their institution is required to “count” as if it is an athletic scholarship, unless the student-athlete qualifies for an exemption based on the level of their GPA, their class rank, or their ACT or SAT test score.

Outside Scholarships

Any scholarships that a student-athlete will be receiving from groups such as a Rotary or Kiwanis club, a church youth group, or a high school booster club should be sent to the financial aid office of the college the student-athlete is attending. Most of these scholarships are permissible, but should be sent directly to the college so they can be processed properly.

Do You Need Help?

If you have questions regarding financial aid or scholarship offers and how they might affect your situation, schedule a private, confidential consultation online or by calling 913-766-1235 or sending an email to rick@informedathlete.com

Every day we get questions about athletic scholarships. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of confusion about the rules surrounding athletic scholarships and financial aid.

Some of the most commonly misunderstood facts about athletic scholarships are:

  • An athletic scholarship is valid ONLY at the school that awarded it. Scholarships are not transferable from one school to another.
  • Verbal promises from a coach are not always honored and are not legally binding.
  • The National Letter of Intent is not the same as an athletic scholarship agreement. They are 2 separate documents.
  • Athletic Scholarships are not all for 4 years or full scholarships.
  • Rules about athletic scholarships are not the same at all college levels. In fact, the rules differ between junior college, NAIA, and even within NCAA divisions and within conferences and schools themselves.

Common Questions we Receive:

Can a coach take away my athletic scholarship during the school year?

At an NCAA school, a coach can only take away an athletic scholarship for specific, limited reasons including academic ineligibility, student misconduct, violation of team rules or voluntary withdrawal from the team.

At NAIA or Junior Colleges, the rules are not clearly defined. And what’s worse is that they may not require an appeal opportunity as the NCAA rules do.

Can I receive a combination of athletic and academic scholarships?

Yes, however, you should check directly with the compliance department of your athletic department to avoid possible financial aid limitations. For more information, read our blog article: “Outside Source” Scholarships – What you should know. 

Do You Have Questions?

As I stated earlier, there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about college athletic scholarships and financial aid and how it all works together.

In a confidential phone or Skype consult, we will explain how your student-athlete could be impacted in various situations. We will also advise your student-athlete’s rights if the coach reduces or doesn’t renew their scholarship for the next year.

ALL information shared is private and confidential – nothing is shared with schools, coaches, etc. unless you specifically ask Rick to contact someone for info on your behalf.

Schedule your scholarship strategies consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

The FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for the 2020-21 academic year becomes available on October 1.

Should I fill out the FAFSA?

Even if you don’t want to complete the FAFSA form – whether you believe you won’t qualify anyway or because your athlete is being offered a substantial athletic scholarship – be aware that some coaches and athletic departments require that it be completed by all student-athletes.

That’s because those coaches and athletic departments are trying to stretch their scholarship allotments for each sport as far as possible. Having their athletes qualify for other types of scholarships and aid assistance that may be available is a way to do this.

Furthermore, to maximize their financial aid “reach” some colleges have policies that prohibit ALL students (not just athletes) from accepting more than one scholarship or grant so that more students can receive financial assistance.

When your athlete’s recruitment is becoming “serious” with a coach be sure to ask them about campus scholarship policies during a recruiting call or when you’re on a campus visit.

Financial Aid & Scholarship Issues Can Be Confusing!

For more information on scholarships and financial aid agreements, visit our website: https://informedathlete.com/how-we-help/scholarship-strategies/

If you have questions about your athlete’s specific situation, we provide confidential phone consultations to answer questions and discuss options. Schedule your scholarship strategies consult online, call us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

NCAA Division I and Division II Student-Athletes who receive notice that they have been awarded an “outside source” scholarship, should inform the compliance office at their university to avoid possible financial aid violations.

Here’s why:

New this year for NCAA Division I – Athletes receiving scholarships from “outside sources” may be limited to accepting no more than $1000 during an academic year, depending on the various criteria for selected scholarships.

Student-athletes who are already receiving a full scholarship from their university may be prohibited from accepting the scholarship (or may need to have other scholarships adjusted) so that they don’t receive more than their university’s “cost of attendance.”

What are Outside Source Scholarships?

Outside Source Scholarships can include those from local civic clubs, local high school booster clubs, mom or dad’s employer, corporate or philanthropic entities, and associations.

In most cases, there won’t be negative consequences for receiving such a scholarship, but it’s important to have everything verified and confirmed to avoid problems.

Do you Have Questions?

To learn more about scholarships in general, go to How we Help/Scholarship Issues.

For questions specific to your situation regarding combining athletic scholarships with outside source scholarships, schedule a scholarship strategies consult online or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com