For student-athletes pursuing an athletic scholarship at an American University, here is some food for thought:
First, only about two per cent of students applying for a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sport scholarship obtain one — and that is two per cent worldwide. The elusive full-ride scholarship is only offered in six sports; football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, volleyball and tennis.
The average scholarship is around $10,000. When it comes to all other sports, the NCAA has set the amount a given sport can allocate to scholarships. It is then up to the coach to decide on how the pie gets cut-up.
One thing about NCAA scholarships is the fact that it is a level playing field for female athletes looking to win one. Thanks to Title IX legislation, schools have to offer equal scholarships to male and female athletes.
Remember to get any sniff of commitment from a coach in writing since verbal commitments are not binding.
If fortunate enough to earn a scholarship, be prepared to master time management. In one NCAA survey, Division I men spend anywhere from 32 to 43.3 hours per week for football while Division I female athletes log between 33.3 to 37.6 hours per week for basketball. Division II and III athletes also have long weeks with the lowest average going to other sports in Division III Women’s sports at 28.9 hours per week.
Here in Canada there are scholarship dollars available in the form of Athletic Financial Awards (AFA) where the conference in which an athlete plays dictates the value allowed. General guidelines are that the AFA can cover tuition. McGill’s women’s soccer team is allowed to offer up to 12.6 full tuition scholarships each season.
The main difference with the NCAA is that Canadian schools can’t cover housing expenses. Some conferences have a limit in how much tuition an institution can cover for the athlete but in Quebec, schools are allowed to cover it completely.
In Quebec, athletes can also apply to programs like the Quebec Foundation for Athletic Excellence and the Club Medaille D’Or bursary programs. There are also numerous academic scholarships where the student-athlete can apply.
Athletes need to do their homework when seeking available dollars to help offset the cost of their schooling. Approach pursuing the goal of a scholarship with eyes wide open and know what lies ahead on the journey to a diploma.