Athletic Scholarships

Can a college or university reduce or cancel my scholarship during the academic year?

If a student-athlete is receiving institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability, that financial aid MAY be reduced or canceled during the period of award (e.g., during that year or term) only if the student-athlete:

• Renders himself or herself ineligible for intercollegiate competition; or
• Misrepresents any information on an application, letter of intent or financial aid agreement; or
• Commits serious misconduct which warrants a substantial disciplinary penalty (the misconduct determination must be made by the university's regular student disciplinary authority); or
• Voluntarily quits the sport for personal reasons. In this case, the student-athlete's financial aid may not be given to another student-athlete during the term in which the aid was reduced or canceled.

Institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability MAY NOT be reduced, canceled or increased during the period of award:

• Based on a student-athlete's ability, performance, or contribution to a team's success; or
• Because an injury prevents the student-athlete from participating; or
• For any other athletics reason.

How long does a scholarship last and can the college cancel my scholarship after the first year?

Aid based in any degree on athletics ability cannot be awarded in excess of one academic year; the decision of whether a student-athlete is awarded institutional financial aid is made on a year-by-year or term-by-term basis, depending on the regulations of the institution.

If a student-athlete is receiving institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability, the institution must notify the student in writing on or before July 1 whether the aid has been renewed or not renewed for the next academic year. This written notification comes from the institution's financial aid authority and not from the athletics department.

If the institution decides not to renew the aid, or is going to reduce the aid, the institution must notify the student-athlete in writing that he or she has the right to a hearing. This hearing is held before the institutional agency making the award.

Keep in mind that the decision to renew or not renew the financial aid is left to the discretion of the institution, to be determined with its normal practices for students generally.

How do Athletic Scholarships Work? (Click here for Printable Version)

Division II partial-scholarship model 

Division II relies on a partial-scholarship model to administer athletics-based financial aid.  Very few of the 110,000 student-athletes competing in Division II will receive a full athletics grant that covers all of their expenses, but most of them will receive some athletics-based financial aid to help them through school. For the rest of their expenses, student-athletes use academic scholarships, student loans and employment earnings just like most other students attending the school.

The partial-scholarship model allows Division II schools to recognize student-athletes for their skills through athletics-based aid, while at the same time keeping athletics budgets more in line with the institution’s bottom line. It costs Division II schools about half as much to sponsor a competitive athletics program as it does in Division I. The net operating costs in Division II even tend to be lower than for programs of similar size in Division III (primarily because of higher net operating revenues in Division II).

The partial-scholarship model is sometimes referred to as an “equivalency” system. That’s because schools in Division II are allowed to award athletics-based financial aid that is “equivalent” to a certain number of full grants in each sport.

For example, in football, schools are allowed to award up to 36 “equivalencies” or full grants, but of course the rosters in football are much larger than 36 players. Thus, coaches and financial aid officers at Division II institutions decide how to allocate those equivalencies as partial scholarships. That means some student-athletes may receive more athletics-based aid than others, and some will not receive any at all. As a comparison, schools in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision are allotted 85 “full rides.”

Equivalency limits per sport

Men’s sports

Women’s sports

Baseball

9

Basketball

10

Basketball

10

Bowling

5

Cross country/track

12.6

Cross country/track

12.6

Football

36

Equestrian

15.0

Fencing

4.5

Fencing

4.5

Golf

3.6

Field hockey

6.3

Gymnastics

5.4

Golf

5.4

Ice hockey

13.5

Gymnastics

6.0

Lacrosse

10.8

Ice hockey

18.0

Rifle

3.6

Lacrosse

9

Skiing

6.3

Rowing

20.0

Soccer

9.0

Rugby

12.0

Swimming/diving

8.1

Sand volleyball

5.0

Tennis

4.5

Skiing

6.3

Volleyball

4.5

Soccer

9.9

Water polo

4.5

Softball

7.2

Wrestling

9.0

Swimming/diving

8.1

   

Tennis

6.0

   

Volleyball

8.0

   

Water polo

8.0

The partial-scholarship model is a purposeful choice Division II institutions make to operate their athletics programs in the balanced approach inherent within the division’s philosophy.

Division II recently commissioned a study on the financial impact of the partial-scholarship model and found that in general, scholarship student-athletes benefit institutions’ overall academic profile, and the partial-aid model generates revenue for the school.

The study found that athletics scholarship athletes – particularly women – bolster an institution’s academic profile and increase ethnic and geographic diversity among new students. In just about every measurable way, the study showed that scholarship student-athletes contribute positively, which means that even absent their participation in athletics, institutions would still be happy to have them as students on their campuses.

The partial-scholarship model offers a cost-effective alternative for institutions to operate their athletics programs. Division II’s partial-scholarship model actually contributes as a revenue producer for the institution, particularly when compared to the alternatives of full scholarships (Division I) or no athletics grants-in-aid (Division III).