Unlocking your college dreams: Alternative paths to a 'full ride'
Jul 27, 2023
The truth is that a great majority of high school student-athletes are only focused on getting athletic scholarship offers. Many of them shoot for a full ride or close to a full ride, so they embark on this incredibly challenging journey competing with hundreds of other prospects in the USA and outside the border, which now also includes those on the “Transfer Portal”.
One thing that many of these student-athletes are not aware of is that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA Division I Council recently made some changes to its scholarship regulations, specifically regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships being awarded to student-athletes. Effective August 1, 2020, teams in equivalency sports* will no longer have any athletes’ need-based aid and academic scholarships count against the maximum athletic scholarship limit. Prior to this update, athletes had to meet certain academic criteria for their additional aid to not be counted against a team’s athletic scholarship limit.
So what does this mean for student-athletes?
Essentially, it means that they will no longer be limited in how much need-based aid and academic scholarships they can stack on top of their athletic scholarship. With school and family budgets being impacted by the coronavirus, this rule change should allow sports programs that have available funds to extend more money to families and athletes—especially at colleges with higher tuition costs.
The previous rules regarding need-based aid and academic scholarships made it difficult for athletes to receive additional financial aid without it counting against their team’s athletic scholarship limit. However, with the new regulations, teams can provide more assistance to student-athletes who need it most, without fear of exceeding scholarship limits.
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The change also highlights the importance of academic performance for student-athletes. Even when athletic scholarship funds are not available, potential recruits with strong grades and test scores can still secure more scholarship funds and aid. This makes it more important than ever for student-athletes to prioritize their academics, as it can have a direct impact on the amount of financial aid they receive.
Overall, the NCAA Division I Council’s decision to loosen regulations surrounding need-based aid and academic scholarships is a positive step for student-athletes during uncertain times. It provides them with greater financial flexibility and support and allows programs to extend more assistance to those who need it most.
“A student-athlete who receives a 50% athletic scholarship and receives the other 50% of the college costs in the academic scholarship of financial aid ends up on a Full Ride.”
*An equivalency college sport is a sport in which scholarships can be divided among multiple athletes. So offers will be made as a percentage of the total college cost. Some of these sports are baseball, swimming, softball, track & field, and men’s tennis. This is in contrast to headcount sports, where each scholarship can only be awarded to one athlete in the form of a full scholarship. Examples are football, basketball, women’s volleyball, women’s gymnastics, and women’s tennis.
Written by: Thomas E. Anderson, CEO & Founder at USP. Photos: USP. This article also appears in the July-August 2023 issue of Florida Tennis Magazine. Be sure to subscribe for expanded coverage, exclusive interviews, and in-depth tennis news.