One of the things that I hope to break down in the next few weeks is to give readers a better feel for the difference between all levels of post high school options. This includes Division I, II, III, NAIA, Junior College, and Prep Schools. While there are other options that you can choose, these six are more than likely where you will be continuing your sporting career. Here is a quick look at the scholarships offered at each level. Look for more breakdowns in the future as well:
Division I Scholarships
In football and basketball, these colleges are required by NCAA rules to offer you full rides. It really is an all or nothing proposition. They can bring you in as a scholarship athlete or a walk on. In other sports, most of the time these schools offer partial scholarships to athletes. Instead of a set number of full scholarships, these programs have a set budget that they can use for their athletes in each academic year. It depends on the program and the sport.
Division I-AA Scholarships
This only applies to FCS football. Formerly known as Division I-AA, FCS football coaches can offer athletes partial scholarships and many do. Most coaches usually offer a smaller percentage earlier that grows over time as the athlete contributes later in his career. Coming out of high school, few athletes end up getting a full scholarship from an FCS school so keep that in mind.
Division II Scholarships
College coaches at the Division II level are able to offer scholarships in any sport that they host (There may be some exceptions to that statement). Schools are given a certain budget that is dependent on the school and the sport. Then the coaches are free to use the money however they want. Some coaches do try to use the money on Division I transfer and could end up offering them a full ride because they are expecting an impact player.
Division III Scholarships
Schools at this level are not legally able to give any scholarships for athletic performance. While you will hear the rumors that some do, it is not true. What the coaches can do is find creative ways to give their most sought after prospects money in different areas. For example, a coach may be able to give their top recruit a Leadership Scholarship that could help reduce their tuition. With Division III though, if you quit your sport, the price that you are paying for schooling in no way should increase. So basically you are playing for the love of the game.
One of the most hotly debated topics for some NAIA conferences is that there is no cap on the amount of scholarship money that they can give athletes. So if one school is spending $60,000 while another is spending only $15,000 and they are in the same conference, that is going to be tough to compete against one another. Most coaches at the NAIA level will give athletes at least a small amount of scholarship money. However, there are still NAIA schools that do not give any money based on athletics.
Junior College Scholarships
Because the cost of Junior College is so inexpensive, many athletes are given full rides. These coaches have to bring in so many athletes each year and figure out who can play. Many of the coaches just end up bring in ten running backs and letting them sort themselves out. That is an easy way to weed out the kids that can and cannot play.
Prep School Scholarships
One of the more interesting options after high school is to attend a prep school. While I need to write an article about it, prep schools can no longer be used to finish your high school education after your first four years of high school. Regardless, these prep schools are used to improve your athletic standing and test scores. These schools can offer scholarships to help host recruits and get into school. It is very unique and something that you should speak with a prep school coach about.