NCAA Mens Basketball

College Athletic Scholarship Limits – Scholarship

 NCAA & NJCAA Division III schools do not award athletic scholarships, but they do grant other forms of financial aid that student athletes may qualify for. Assistance to academically gifted student athletes can generally be exempted from counting as athletically based assistance only if the student athlete meets certain grade and/or test score criteria established by the various associations. Athletic scholarships are not awarded for participation in either club or intramural sports at any level.

Why are there fractions? Most  NCAA varsity programs are equivalency sports which means awards can be split into partial scholarships in any proportion up to the maximum allowed.  For example, an NCAA Division I school can allocate a number of partial athletic scholarships equivalent to 11.7 full scholarships in any proportion among,  say,  25 baseball players.

Full scholarships are relatively rare in equivalency sports. An additional caveat is that there is a top limit of the number of athletes that can be awarded even a partial scholarship in an equivalency sport – this limit is referred to as the maximum number of counters. For NCAA I baseball teams the maximum number of counters allowed is 27.

There are fewer NCAA  head- count sports than equivalency sports; head count sports mean the stated scholarship limit is absolute, and the number of student athletes receiving awards cannot exceed this number. NCAA I football and basketball are headcount sports as well as a few others noted above. For example,  NCAA FBS football schools can have a maximum of 85 players under scholarship during a year. Head count sports generally award a much higher percentage of full scholarships to participants than equivalency sports.

The above numbers are maximums and schools can award less than the limit. Ivy League schools state they do not award scholarships based on athletic ability, but they grant other forms of financial aid as do many other schools. The US Military Academies (Army, Navy,  Air Force & Coast Guard) do not award athletic scholarships, but all students receiving an appointment to the academies have their tuition paid in full.

The above limits are annual and apply to the entire team, so incoming student athletes at a four year institution are typically completing for approximately 25% of the maximum available scholarships.

If a sport is not listed, this indicates that it is not an official sport of the governing association and therefore is not subject to the scholarship limits. For example, Men’s rugby, rowing and bowling are not official sports of the NCAA and schools are not subject to NCAA athletic scholarship limits with respect to these sports. However, for many of these sports the respective teams have agreed to follow rules of other sport associations regarding scholarships and other assistance, often so a varsity level program does not receive a significant advantage over a competing club program from another school.

* NCAA Division I institutions that do not sponsor indoor/traditional Women’s Volleyball are allowed an annual limit of 8 equivalency scholarships for beach / sand volleyball.

** All NAIA sports are equivalency sports for scholarship limits whereas all NJCAA sports are head-count sports for scholarship limits. For NAIA schools, aid to students who play at the junior varsity levels does not count in the overall limit on athletic scholarships.


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