West Michigan

Youth Soccer Assoc.


Contrary to what many people think, Scholarships from colleges and universities are limited. Many people compare Football and Basketball to other “non-revenue” producing sports, like Soccer. The reality is that Soccer does not produce revenue for schools, at least not at the moment. The football and basketball teams get more scholarships, deservedly so, and they basically fund the other sports. The number of athletic scholarships authorized to each school will depend on such things as the association they are affiliated with (NCAA, NAIA, etc), the division they are playing in and the gender of the sport. Competition for scholarship money is extremely competitive. If getting a scholarship is essential for you, then you should use the chart below to look and see what the best opportunities are. For example, if you are a good NCAA DII player then maybe looking at a smaller school and playing NAIA might be a better fit as they offer more scholarships. Remember, soccer is an equivalency sport which means all scholarships are NOT full scholarships, and coaches may divide the total number of scholarships allotted to them between as many athletes as they wish. Looking at the number of players a team carries and how many players they will be losing when your class is incoming also helps you gauge potential scholarship money available. Finally each school is different. While you may be there top recruit, if the maximum athletic scholarship the coach is authorized to give is 50% then you may be better served looking elsewhere. The chart below is the 2015 Scholarships authorized by NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA by gender.

Gender

NCAA DI

NCDII

NAIA

NJCAA

Men's:

9.9Scholarships

9Scholarships

12Scholarships

18Scholarships

Women's:

14Scholarships

9.9Scholarships

12Scholarships

18Scholarships


While NCAA scholarships are year to year, many of the NAIA scholarships are guaranteed for four years unless the player decides to leave the program. This is one advantage the NAIA players have in relation to season or even career ending injuries affecting the scholarship awards.

You may have noticed that NCAA DIII schools are not listed on this chart. These schools don't rely strictly on an athletic scholarship. Instead they offer other forms of financial assistance such as grants and additional academic scholarship opportunities. "Do not get discouraged by this information. We recommend you do the best you can to withstand the initial "sticker shock" and ask questions to find out if the opportunity may actually be feasible for you.

Although it is true that Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, they do offer a substantial amount of other financial aid to students. Division III schools use athletics as a driver for their enrollment and do not want to discourage athletes from attending their institutions. Schools want students to be involved and active while on campus working toward their degree. This helps build friendships and provide lasting memories which in turn allow students to become great ambassadors for the college upon graduation.

Division III schools will also often have a great deal of financial aid they can provide for students even without being able to award athletic scholarships. Frequently, Division III schools will have very large endowments, especially when compared to the size of the student population. This allows schools to provide many forms of financial aid to cover the cost of attendance. Since each college or university has the freedom to make their own rules for the financial aid process, it is likely you will encounter many different types of aid you qualify for at many different schools. This underscores the importance of asking questions of each individual school you are applying to." ~ NCSA Sports.

NAIA Schools are typically private institutions with a smaller campus size. Conversely they tend to be more expensive, similar to many of the NCAA DIII schools are. From a competitive standpoint many of the NAIA schools are comparable with many NCAA DII schools. While this may sound strange, the reason for this is affordability. You may ask how a private school can be more affordable than a state school. NAIA, similar to NCAA DIII typically has a substantial amount of financial aid available to its students in forms of endowments, grants and scholarships. Additionally, they are able to offer scholarships and at a higher rate than the NCAA DII schools can.

The Rest of The Story 
Counting on a soccer scholarship to cover most of the costs of college is an extreme long shot which will really ever pay off. If you think about it, statistically only 9% of men who played high school soccer will go on to play in college and only 10% of females will do the same. However, don’t get discouraged! Realistically, if you can find the right fit you have the opportunity to get some form of soccer scholarship which can be supplemented in many other ways to make college more affordable. 

What you need to focus on is what you have the most control over; grades and experience. The best way to enhance your chances of getting outside scholarships is by having good solid grades, respectable ACT or SAT scores and to have been actively involved in the community. Don’t underestimate the community importance. This tends to be the one thing that separates one student applicant from another. I recommend you get involved in one or two groups per year. If you find one you really like it’s ok to stick with it. Just rotate the other so the resume is well rounded.
 
When it comes to non-athletic or academic scholarships the first thing you need to learn is not to put all your eggs in one basket. In most cases 95% of the ones you apply for won’t pan out. That’s because everyone is applying for anyone they can find. Therefore you should apply for as many as you can. Start searching early so you will be prepared. Each scholarship has a different due date an inevitably you will end up missing out on one or two that could have really helped. Exhaust all resources by checking banks and credit unions, places of warship, parent’s place of employment. Look at the different college sights under financial aid pages and you will see most have a section with suggestions as well. 

Needs based scholarships may also be available at your school of choice. It may take academics into account, but the primary criterion for qualification is demonstrating financial need. Students who have parents in a lower-middle income bracket may not have the funds to pay for college, but their parents might make too much for them to qualify for government grants and other assistance primarily for students at or below the poverty level. The bottom line is no matter how small the scholarship is for, it will all add up in the long run and will help supplement the cost of college. This just may be the difference between being able to afford to go to the school of your dreams or not.