You can get an athletic scholarship without going to a huge school. There’s help in Division II, where 56 percent of athletes get aid. Don’t count on a full ride—Division II uses partials for all sports, and its men’s sports besides football and basketball split 60 scholarships combined. To get aid, graduate from high school with a 2.0 GPA in the NCAA’s 16 core courses and get an 820 combined in the SAT or a 68 sum in the ACT. If you want smaller colleges but also scholarship help, then Division II may be great for you!
As you look for athletic scholarships, don’t limit your search to Division I. Division II has athletic scholarships too. This division doesn’t have the huge athletic programs or the number of full rides you find in Division I, but its 307 colleges do have aid for athletes. That help is shared among a lot of people—56 percent of Division II players get athletic scholarships.
It’s possible but rare to get a full ride in Division II. All of its sports use the “equivalency” system of partial scholarships. For example, a women’s gymnastics coach in Division II splits the value of 5.4 full rides among his or her 15 to 20 gymnasts. Men’s coaches at a Division II college have to work together as they offer scholarships, because of a Division II rule. Sports other than football and basketball get 60 scholarship equivalents combined. Football gets 36, basketball gets 10, and the other men’s sports split 60.
There are academic rules for getting athletic aid in Division II. But the standards are more relaxed than in Division I. You have to graduate from high school and get a 2.0 GPA in 16 core courses (the same set you need for Division I). Take four years of English; three of math (Algebra I or higher); two of natural or physical science (including one lab course if your high school offers it); one extra of English, math, or natural or physical science; two of social science; and four more from these groups or of religion, philosophy, or foreign language. Along with a 2.0 GPA in these courses, you need an SAT combined score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68.
If you want to compete in your sport and get at least a partial scholarship for it, then check out Division II. You might find some awesome school choices as you make a great college team.
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