Athletic Scholarships and Grants

While some athletic scholarships require athletic talent to be paired with academic skill that is not true for all of the athletic scholarships available. Where a student is intending to study in a specialized sporting institution, which is often not true at all. The range of scholarships available in the athletic realm is impressive. Scholarships are available for female athletes, disabled athletes, sports journalists and the usual range of games.

Applying for an athletic scholarship is very similar to applying for an academic one, with the exception that a scout may want to see you play or perform. Nonetheless, the principals are the same. Write a great cover letter. If an essay is required make it personal and compelling. Get together all the references you can from coaches, teachers and anyone else who will attest to your exceptional skills.

If the scholarship doesn’t come through you may need to look at a loan so now is a good time to compile all the information you may need for both scenarios. Put it all into a single folder so that when an opportunity presents itself you are ready to go.

The most common sporting scholarships awarded in the United States are the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) scholarships. The web page for these folks is The website isn’t dedicated to scholarships only and it can be a little onerous surfing the sites vast information to find exactly what you are looking for, but it is worth persevering. The simplest way to get to scholarships is to go from the home page to academics & athletes and then to scholarships and internships.

This is a good place to get information about NCAA scholarships but bear in mind that the billion plus dollars they distribute in undergraduate athletics scholarships every year is distributed through NCAA partner schools. So although NCAA eligibility criteria have to be met, the application is made through the student’s college or high school.

The scholarships NCAA offers are:


Over 126 000 student athletes receive one of these scholarships every year.

Jim McKay

The application form is available on site. This is a scholarship of $10 000 awarded to one man and one woman every year. The successful applicants show aptitude and are pursuing a career in, sports communications.

The FreedomForum-NCAA Sports-Journalism (undergraduate)

Again, application forms are available on site and these scholarships go to eight recipients annually who want to pursue sports journalism.

Walter Byers Postgraduate

This is a post graduate scholarship. $24 000 dollars is awarded to the recipient for a single year of study with an additional $24 000 possible the second year again. Students qualifying for this scholarship have excellent academic achievement as well as a passion for sports.

Ethnic Minority and Women's Enhancement Postgraduate

13 scholarships are awarded to ethnic minorities and 13 scholarships are awarded to females every year. This is a post graduate scholarship for those entering a program of study in sports administration or coaching.

NCAA Postgraduate

87 for men and 87 for women. These postgraduate scholarships are for students who excel academically and athletically and are entering their final year of competition at school. Each award is worth $7 500.

Athletic scholarships are awarded for every commonly played sport out there including: baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, crew, fencing, field hockey, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, track, volleyball and wrestling.

Now that is what is available commonly through the NCAA, who is without a doubt the biggest athletic scholarship provider, but they are by no means the end of the athletic scholarship line.

Other big scholarship organizations are the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). Like the NCAA scholarships, these awards are distributed through the member schools who determine (following the NCAA guidelines) which students will receive the awards. While the NAIA is very similar in tone and sponsorship style to the NCAA, the others mentioned are a little different and may cater more specifically for certain types of students.

The NCCAA is of course a Christian association and as such seeks to promote sport with a religious element intertwined. The NCCAA also take a holistic approach awarding scholarships to students who are not only academically and athletically competent, but who also show leadership and values in life and religion.

NJCAA are the sports governing body of two year colleges and as such have a unique perspective on scholarship awards and the types of people they would like to honor. The NJCAA may take into consideration things that other colleges may not in terms of the difficulties that community college students may face, which are not necessarily experienced by the broader community.

It is also possible to be recruited by a college or university interested in your particular talents and top athletes will often get noticed by college recruiters without having to make much effort at all, apart from being great at their sport. It is possible to take some action to attract the attention of a college recruiter. Create an athletic profile and distribute this to various college coaches. If you look good to them they may follow up or attend a game or event to watch you perform.

Let your coach, educators and athletic bodies in the community in which you are involved, know your aspirations. Many people will be willing to help with recommendations and suggestions if they know that your dream is an athletic scholarship. Many will go out of their way to help find available options.