Understanding the Different Types of Sports Scholarships for International Students

5 min read

When it comes to sports scholarships in the US collegiate system, understanding the different options available are key considerations in the decision-making process for student-athletes and their families.

In our latest blog, we highlight a few important factors when it comes to what levels of scholarship funding are available and some key aspects of scholarship awards to look out for.

Duration of Scholarship Offers

Firstly, most offers tend to be offered on a year-by-year basis, and although multi-year offers are growing in regularity, the most likely scenario is that your offer will be a one-year agreement.

Secondly, your scholarship offer is not official until you receive a written National Letter of Intent (NLI). Verbal offers from a coach or member of the college’s recruitment or scouting team are not legally binding agreements and can be retracted or changed at any point.

Types of Scholarship Offer

When it comes to the type of scholarship you are offered, as an international student the two most frequently used are:

- Full-ride scholarship

A full-ride scholarship provides funding for most of the major costs incurred by students attending a college or university. The institution will waive the tuition costs for studying your chosen course, your accommodation fees to cover the cost of your room and nutrition, sports equipment and books, and additional costs such as school supplies and transport.

As with most other scholarship options, even a full-rider offer tends to be offered on a one-year basis, upon which the athlete would have to reapply for the following year whilst continuing to meet the required athletic and academic merit criteria.

- Partial scholarship

Partial scholarships make up the majority of offers within NCAA Division I and II.

Although not as financially significant as a full-ride offer, a partial scholarship offer can still go a long way in covering a large proportion of the cost of attending college or university depending on the level of support allocated to each specific athlete.

A partial scholarship is exactly as the name suggests. These options are in place to provide some semblance of financial support to student-athletes, which can vary from tuition fees, transport costs, or even as simple as covering the cost of books and/or required equipment for that particular field of study.

There are two key types of partial scholarship funding available to student-athletes.

  • Athletic scholarship funding, which comes from the overall sports scholarship budget, is divided up to provide assistance to athletes in covering the cost of attending the university. Athletic departments have a cap on the amount of scholarship funding they can allocate each year.
  • Academic scholarship funding, in the case of student-athletes can be an effective way of further increasing the financial support available to cover the cost of tuition for the year. This type of funding comes from a completely separate budget and is often utilised to “top up” the partial athletic funding as part of the overall offer. The academic funding offered to athletes does not count towards the limit set against the previously mentioned sporting budget.

Scholarship Examples

An example of how a joint athletic and academic scholarship offer could work would be; if a college or university with an annual tuition cost of $30,000 offered a prospective student-athlete an athletic scholarship worth $20,000 per year, with additional academic scholarship funding of $5,000, the total financial cost incurred by the family would only be the remaining $5,000 to make up the total annual cost.

Alternatively, a less financially significant athletic and academic scholarship offer of $10,000 could be awarded, meaning the cost incurred by the family would be the remaining $20,000 to make up the total tuition fee owed.

Depending on which level of competition your chosen college or university plies their trade in, there are also various additional need-based scholarship options available to ease the burden on families who are able to demonstrate a financial need for additional funding.

Overall, there is a huge amount of funding and financial support available to student-athletes in the USA, it’s just about finding and ensuring the right fit for each individual’s circumstances.

As the world’s leading scholarships consultancy, FirstPoint USA has a dedicated team of specialist talent management consultants who have assisted thousands of young athletes to propel their athletic and academic careers through successful partnerships with top U.S institutions. In addition to this, we also have robust processes and support tools in place to help you understand the intricacies of your scholarship options, so we’re with you every step of the way.

For more information on the life-changing opportunities for young men and women that a sports scholarship in the USA can provide, why not schedule a call with one of our specialist consultants today.

FirstPoint USA is an international scouting service, providing recruitment services to hundreds of NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA member institutions seeking to identify the very best in overseas talent, both male and female.

The company was founded in 2001 by former University of Cincinnati All-American and Hall of Fame inductee, Andrew Kean, and evaluates over 100,000 prospective student-athletes, competing in over 20 different sports, across 187 countries each year.

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