Athletic and academic scholarships in the United States

The sports culture in the United States is bigger than anywhere else in the world. It is considered cool to be a good athlete and standing out is encouraged. Representing a university as a student-athletes is a dream for many young Americans. That’s when people start to talk about you. That’s when you’ve really made it. And that’s when Americans are prepared to put down money for you. Why? Because top athletes who want to combine sports and studies at a U.S. university are often offered scholarships to represent the college’s sports team. But what scholarships exist? And how do scholarships work exactly?

Academic scholarship

An academic scholarship is a monetary reward that students receive based on their academic abilities and results. The scholarship amount is determined by factors such as your high school Grade Point Average, your SAT and TOEFL scores and other academic activities such as internships and extra-curricular engagements. The requirements to receive an academic scholarship differ per university. At Harvard University and Stanford University, for example, it is harder to receive a high scholarship because they maintain extremely high academic standards. At other universities the requirements to receive an academic scholarship lie lower, making it easier for you to decrease your tuition costs. The scholarship amount is immediately determined when you apply for a university.

Athletic scholarship

While academic scholarships are awarded by the board of directors of a university to students with good academic results, athletic scholarships are distributed by college coaches to athletes who they want to have on their teams. All sports coaches in NCAA Divisions 1 and 2, NAIA and NJCAAD1 have a “scholarship budget” that they distribute amongst players in the form of athletic scholarships. In general counts: the bigger the budget, the higher the scholarships. Just like academic scholarships, the height of athletic scholarships also differ per university. Even within one team some players receive more scholarship money than others. That is because coaches are prepared to put more money down for the better players. Slamstox helps you get the highest possible athletic scholarship at a university that is right for you. We help you negotiate with coaches about your athletic scholarship and we select universities where you are able to get the highest possible scholarship!

Can anyone receive an athletic scholarship?

The head coaches of college sports teams determine who does and who doesn’t receive an athletic scholarship. They are free to decide who they want to offer scholarship money. To determine whether they are prepared to offer you a scholarship, they take into account your athletic results, your Slamstox Profile, your recruiting video and your potential to develop as an athlete. In addition, coaches are also interested in you as a person; are you a hard worker and do you have a winner-mentality? Are you a team player and are you coachable? And do you have the leadership skills to potentially become the captain of the team in your third or fourth year? An athletic scholarship in the United States can go as high as $80.000 per year. The requirements and criteria to receive one differ per university, team and coach. Slamstox has a big network of coaches who we know personally. We know exactly what they are looking for and whether you will have a chance of getting a good scholarship at their university.

Can my initial scholarship increase or decrease?

An academic scholarship can, based on your grades, increase as well as decrease. This is determined by the university and is based on rules and regulations set by the school. Usually, academic scholarships are awarded for a duration of one academic year. However, some universities also give out scholarships for the full four years.

Athletes receiving an athletic scholarship must sign an athletic scholarship agreement. This contract serves as the official agreement between the athlete and the university and coach of the stated scholarhsip amounts. By signing the contract, you officially commit to that specific university. In Division 1, scholarship contracts are given out either for a one-year-period or for four years. In the other divisions it is common to receive a one-year scholarship contract. In this case, scholarships are usually not lowered. In fact, if you do well in competition, there are chances your scholarship will be increased. However, if you do not meet certain GPA requirements or if you break college- or team rules and/or regulations, your scholarship can be taken away. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often.

What do I have to pay myself?

Costs to study in the United States constitute different categories: 

  •           Tuition & Fees 
  •           Room & Board 
  •           Health Insurance 
  •           Cost of attendance (other personal expenses)
  •           Extra’s (books, campus fees, etc.)

All sports-related expenses are always covered by the university, even if you are on the team without athletic scholarship. To calculate your total costs, you have to subtract your scholarships from the separate costs of each category listed above. That final amount is all-inclusive, meaning that rent, food, tuition and everything else is included in that price. The only costs that are (almost) never covered by scholarships are your personal expenses such as your phone plan and your flights to and from the United States.


  • Total cost university: $60,000 per year
  • Academic scholarship: $10,000 per year
  • Athletic scholarship: $40,000 per year
  • You pay: $10.000 per year (for all costs mentioned above, including sports-related costs)

When coaches make you a scholarship offer they often say it will cover X percent of the total costs of attendance. Therefore, it is important to know what costs are included in this total so that you know how much you end up having to pay. At Slamstox we have the experience and expertise to make sure you are aware of the total financial picture so that you are confident your college choice is the right match not only academically, athletically and personally, but also financially.


For every sport in each division there is a certain limit to the amount of scholarship money that can be distributed amongst players. These limits are determined by either the NCAA or the NAIA, the two college sports federations in the United States. The reason for these limitations is that the NCAA and NAIA want to have an even distribution of scholarship money between men and women. Another reason is to ensure that the leagues stay relatively competitive and fair so that the richest universities don’t always get the best players due to their wealth. It is important to know the scholarship limits for each sport because they can influence your chance of getting a scholarship. In the diagram below you can find the limits for some sports in the most prevalent divisions.


sportbeurs Amerika - slamstox.comM = men | W = women

Is your sport not included or are you interested to find out what your chances are to receive a scholarship? Contact us here or sign up for a free meeting to get to know each other!