“Scholarship“ is a term that most people have heard of, but few know exactly what it actually means.
The US College sports system offers billions of dollars in scholarship funding to students each year. No other country on the planet offers quite as much, especially for student-athletes that wish to balance elite sports with their degree studies.
In this article, we will break down exactly what types of scholarships are available, which costs they can and cannot cover, and how to maximise your offers.
Types of Scholarship
In total, there are three different scholarships available at most, but not all, American universities: Athletic, academic and international. Here, we’ll explain how each one is determined.
This one is based on an individual’s sporting ability and how much of an impact a College coach believes he/she can bring to their program. In some sports, athletes are able to demonstrate quantifiable statistics that provide coaches with an immediate idea of their competitive level. For instance, Swimmers will have PB times in various strokes or events. Track & Field athletes will also have PB times or distances in their respective events. Golfers will have a handicap that they play off, along with average scores in various tournaments. Here, College coaches are able to measure and compare where a prospective athlete would fit within their current roster. They can then decide whether or not to make an offer to that athlete.
In other, team-based sports, such as Soccer, Rugby or Basketball, it becomes far more subjective from a coach’s point of view. Coaches need to decide what type of athlete or position they are in most need of. Therefore, they must assess an individual’s abilities and decide on what to offer an athlete based on their remaining recruiting budget.
In every sport, each coach has an athletic scholarship budget to use for recruiting. It is not possible for every athlete on their squad to receive full scholarships, so they must ensure their budget stretches as far as possible.
This type of award is far more objective by nature. Essentially, the better a student’s grades (“GPA” ) and test scores, the more academic scholarship will be available to them. Each university will have different tiers of academic scholarship packages that a student can qualify for. For example, if a student earns a High School GPA of 3.2 and scores 1200 on the SAT, one school may be able to put $10,000 towards the student’s tuition costs. Another student may have a 2.9 GPA and score of 1000 on the SAT, and they may be eligible for $7,000 in academic scholarship, for instance.
Put simply, school grades and test scores are incredibly important! It can mean the difference between you getting into your first-choice school and receiving thousands of dollars in financial aid.
Read more here on the SAT – What You Need to Know
This one is nice and easy! The vast majority of US universities offer some form of international scholarship funding. It is designed to encourage foreign students to attend their school and increase diversity on campus. It’s a case-by-case basis, with some Colleges offering larger amounts than others. Regardless of how much is on the table, it’s money for nothing in the eyes of an international student and can really help make certain options affordable. All that’s required to be eligible for this funding is for a student to show they are not an American citizen.
So now you know which types of scholarship funding are combined together to make a total package!
What is Covered? What is Not Covered?
Your total scholarship package aims to offset a percentage of your overall costs. Often that is a majority percentage, but sometimes it can be all of the following costs:
- Tuition Fees (usually the largest cost per year)
- Accommodation (living on-campus in year one, optional on-campus or off-campus in year two, three and four)
- Food (pre-determined ‘meal plan’ where students can eat on campus at various locations)
- Textbooks (all books required for a student’s classes throughout their 4-year College education)
- Health Insurance (can be covered by the university in the best-case-scenario packages. Every student must have insurance and we can advise on various options if your offer does not cover this)
No matter how lucrative your scholarship offer may be, it will not cover your flights to and from the United States. That cost is always something that you and your family will need to budget for. However, travel costs can be minimised by planning ahead.
What Else Should You Know About Scholarships?
Other important facts about scholarships that you may find helpful:
- Your scholarship will be renewed annually, meaning that it is reviewed year-by-year. However, you will not have your scholarship reduced or withdrawn for things like an injury lay-off or not making the same impact you’d hoped to before arriving. Breaking school or team rules can result in your scholarship being reduced or withdrawn. Other reasons may include your grades drastically worsening, or if you decide to quit the team.
- In contrast, your scholarship can actually improve over time. If you do very well in your first year and exceed expectations, you may be able to earn more scholarship for the remaining years. It is not uncommon for a student-athlete to begin on, for example, an 80% scholarship and then see that increase to a 90% or even 100% deal in future.
- Timing is very important! We recommend between 1-2 years to work through this process. The reason for this is to ensure that the Colleges you deserve and wish to attend still have scholarship funding to spend from their budgets. Once a coach has promised out all of their recruiting budget to other athletes, they can no longer offer anything to you. Start early!
Every single student-athlete is an individual case, so it’s relatively pointless to compare yourself to a friend or teammate. Differing levels of athletic ability, academic achievements and personal financial situations all play a part. Our job is to discuss this with every family so that they know exactly what to expect from day one.
Finally, the three biggest tips we can leave you with in order to maximise your scholarship options are as follows:
- Once you have decided you want to pursue scholarship opportunities in the States, don’t delay in starting the process!
- Academics are crucial. Don’t dismiss the importance of pushing to score as high as possible in your exams, coursework and SAT or ACT tests!
- Speak with us about how we can promote and market you as an athlete. You might be a fantastic young footballer, runner, swimmer or even the next Tiger Woods! But without the right guidance and expertise on how to gain exposure among College coaches, your abilities are likely to go unnoticed.
If you would like to know more about the College recruitment process, please get in touch with us and we can discuss you and your options! Fill in a Free Assessment here!
Thanks for reading! 🙂