The Upside & Downside of NCAA Division I Multiyear Scholarships

NCAA Division I athletic programs can offer multiyear scholarships to prospects.

The “period of the award” for a multi-year scholarship is in effect from the first academic year in which an athletic scholarship is provided through the final year of scholarship offered, even if there are years in-between in which no scholarship is offered (e.g., 50 percent in year one, zero percent in year two, 50 percent in year three).

If your student-athlete is being recruited by multiple Division I athletic programs, a multiyear scholarship from School A is generally a much better option compared to a one-year renewable scholarship from School B.

The reason is that Division I schools are very limited in the reasons that they can use to take away a scholarship during the “period of the award.” They CANNOT take away a scholarship for these reasons:

  • A student-athlete’s athletic performance or contribution to a team’s success
  • Or any injury, illness or physical or mental health condition.

The Potential Downside:

We have been receiving increasing reports of multi-year scholarship agreements being issued to recruits that may provide a scholarship in the athlete’s first year at a Division I university (50% for example) and then 0% athletic aid in years two, three and four of the athlete’s eligibility.

These types of scholarship agreements are valid and are being issued by coaches because it gives the coach much more flexibility in managing their scholarship dollars.

HOWEVER, we believe these types of agreements place the athlete (and family) in a difficult position on account of:

  • The coach is not required to inform the athlete by July 1 whether the scholarship is being renewed for the next year. That’s because (whether we agree with it or not) the athlete and family should “assume” that there is no scholarship forthcoming after the first year.
  • Because a coach issuing this type of scholarship agreement is under no specific deadline to inform the student-athlete of his or her scholarship status for the next year, the student-athlete may feel forced to enter the Transfer Portal to try to find another scholarship opportunity elsewhere.
  • A Division I coach is allowed to increase a scholarship for a returning student-athlete at any time for any reason (within team scholarship limits). Therefore, the coach has the flexibility to manage his or her scholarship allotments (and to wait until mid to late summer to do so), but the athlete and family can’t properly plan if the coach isn’t communicating the scholarship status for the upcoming year in a timely manner.

My advice is to be aware and wary of these types of scholarship agreements.

If your athlete is in this situation and/or you have questions and would like to discuss how to navigate through scholarship agreements, we can help. Schedule a confidential Scholarship Strategies Consult online, contact us at 913-766-1235 or send an email to