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

We are having multiple student-athletes call us for help in guiding them through transfers because of coaches reneging on a “promise” that they would increase their scholarship in future years.

If you are being recruited and a coach is telling you that “I don’t have a scholarship now but can give you one in the future,” or “I can increase your scholarship based on how you perform this year” our advice is to just assume that WON’T happen.

If it sounds like I’m cynical about such promises after my many years in this business, that would be correct! Here are a few reasons why:

  • Once a coach gets your athlete on campus as a walk-on or only on a small scholarship, they know that in many cases your athlete will start making multiple connections – with classmates and teammates, and being “all-in” with their choice of school.
  • Some coaches assume that if you could pay for your athlete’s freshman year with only a small scholarship or as a walk-on athlete, that you can find a way to continue paying once your athlete is happy and invested at their college.
  • Coaches are always trying to improve their programs by recruiting athletes who are better than the ones they already have. When deciding between allocating scholarship money to a new incoming recruit or an athlete who’s already in their program, most of the time the coach is going to give that scholarship to an incoming recruit to attract them to the school while your athlete has already “bought in.”

My personal opinion

I suggest an athlete or family should NEVER expect that the scholarship value will increase in future years – UNLESS your athlete receives an official multi-year scholarship offer that provides a freshman year scholarship AND steady or increasing values in future years.

Need Advice?

If you’d like an unbiased, confidential opinion about your athlete’s scholarship offer or how that scholarship might change in the future, schedule a Scholarship Strategies Consult online, send an email to rick@informedathlete.com or call our office at 913-766-1235.

High School athletes who are offered 10-15% of a full scholarship by a 4-year college coach might be better advised to not accept the scholarship and instead be a walk-on.

The reason?

They may have more flexibility should they decide to transfer in the future.

The NCAA recently approved a change that will allow walk-on student-athletes to transfer to a Division I program from another 4-year university and be immediately eligible at their new school. In addition, the school that the athlete is leaving will not be allowed to have an objection to the transfer.

This new rule impacts a student-athlete who is:

  • A walk-on athlete from a 4-year college program that awarded athletic scholarships, or
  • A non-recruited athlete from a 4-year college program that doesn’t provide athletic scholarships (such as an Ivy League university).

If you have questions about the transfer rules and how they could impact your athlete in the future, schedule a confidential Transfer Consult online, or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com.

Each year about this time, we receive a few inquiries from parents whose son or daughter is having second thoughts about attending the college with which they’ve signed a scholarship or made a commitment to.

The most common reason that a student-athlete wants to de-commit from their signed scholarship offer with a university is because the coach that recruited them has left for a job at another school.

In these situations, we strongly advise the student-athlete to decide what they want to do BEFORE the semester starts.

There are a few important reasons for this:

  • If your athlete starts attending classes and then wants to leave, it could potentially cost thousands of dollars in withdrawal fees, dorm charges, etc.
  • Starting the semester and then withdrawing could also result in zero credit hours on their transcript for the semester. This will damage their eligibility for the spring semester at their current college or at another college as a transfer student.
  • When a student-athlete starts attending classes, it triggers the start of their “five-year clock” if they are currently (or hope to be in the future) a Division I athlete. If they are a DII or DIII athlete, it will be counted as using one of their 10 semesters of full-time enrollment.

If your athlete is having “second thoughts” and you’d like to discuss possible options and consequences, contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com

To schedule a phone consult or an email consult online, click Scholarship Strategies Consult Options.


All NCAA DI & DII student-athletes who were on scholarship for the 2018-19 academic year should have been notified by July 1st of their scholarship status for the 2019-20 academic year.

If you were notified that your NCAA scholarship was not renewed or was reduced, you also should have been informed that you have a right to an appeal hearing.

In this case, the student-athlete must request a formal appeal hearing in writing typically within 2 weeks of receiving the notification.

An appeal hearing can be a scary prospect for a student-athlete often because of the unknown of what their rights are and what they should say.

We frequently help student-athletes prepare and present their best case to the appeal board by:

  • Talking about what will happen and what to expect during the hearing.
  • Coaching the student-athlete on what to say and not say during the hearing.
  • Reviewing their written appeal statements and discussing options they can consider.
  • Providing encouragement to boost their confidence for the hearing.

Contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com if you have questions or want to schedule a scholarship appeal hearing coaching session.

An NCAA DI head coaching change frequently results in a change to a student-athlete’s scholarship status.

This includes student-athletes who have a four-year “guaranteed” scholarship that can’t be reduced for athletic or medical reasons.

In those situations, a new DI head coach is allowed to tell student-athletes they can continue on scholarship until they graduate, but they might not be on the team in their remaining years.

This rule was intended originally to benefit athletes who were near the completion of their degree and wanted to stay in order to graduate, even if it meant their athletic career was done.

However, now we’re seeing some newly-hired head coaches use this rule against sophomore, and even freshman athletes who may have redshirted.

In those cases, many athletes choose to transfer rather than give up their goal of playing at the Division I level in order to complete their degree.

Has your athlete has been put in this situation?  If so, we can inform and guide you through their options so they can make a fully informed decision.

Schedule your confidential scholarship consultation online or call 913-766-1235 to set up a time that works best for you.

If you’re a current scholarship athlete at an NCAA university, have you been informed what your scholarship status is for next year?

If you have not been informed whether your athletic scholarship will remain as is, be reduced, or not renewed, I strongly encourage you to ask your coach NOW!

While NCAA athletic departments have until July 1st to notify you, most coaches and athletic programs don’t wait that long.  They usually inform athletes at the end of the school year before they leave campus for the summer, if not earlier.

Waiting until July 1 to find out that your scholarship has been reduced or cancelled, and then going through the appeal process will leave very little time to find another college to transfer to if that becomes necessary.

Do you Need Help?

If you have questions about your scholarship status and options available to you if your scholarship has been cancelled or reduced, we can help.  Schedule a confidential scholarship strategies consult online.  Or, If you prefer, call our office at 913-766-1235 or send an email to rick@informedathlete.com