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NCAA was created in 1906 and it consists of Division I, Division II and Division III. Athletic scholarships are offered only at the Division I and II levels, but Division III athletes can receive merit-based and financial need scholarships.


NCAA Division Breakdown

Division I

•70,000 student-athletes at roughly 340 schools

•Represents the highest level of collegiate athletics and is highly competitive

•Full and partial athletic scholarships



Division II

•107,000 student-athletes at nearly 315 schools

•Intermediate level of collegiate competition

•Full scholarships are rare at this level, but partial athletic scholarships are common

Division III

•175,000 student-athletes at more than 440 colleges

•This is actually the largest division and represents 40% of NCAA athletes

•No athletic scholarships



The NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) essentially began in 1937 and its schools provide $450 million in athletic scholarships. Each sport has scholarship limits set by the NAIA, but those scholarships can be divided as partial awards to spread financial aid around among athletes.

High school seniors who plan on competing at the NAIA level need to register with the NAIA Eligibility Center first to determine their eligibility. In order to be eligible, high school students must meet two of these three requirements:

•Minimum score of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT.

•Minimum overall high school grade point average of 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale).

•Graduate in the top half your high school class.


College Recruiting in the NAIA differs from the NCAA.

The NAIA has fewer recruiting rules than the NCAA. NAIA coaches can contact student athletes anytime during high school. Ideally, a longer period of communication between an athlete and a coach helps to develop a solid relationship.

To learn more about NCAA and NAIA recruiting, download the NCAA and NAIA Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete.

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