How to Get Recruited Guide

Division II Athletic Scholarships

Division II Athletic Scholarships

What is the reality of Division II Athletic Scholarships?

Are you counting on full ride Division II athletic scholarships? In our previous look into Division I Athletic scholarships we saw that full ride scholarships are rare for most sports. In fact, even half tuition is not as common as you might think. If you haven’t read that article, read it after you finish this.

This is the second in a four part series covering the amount of scholarship money actually available on college rosters. Today, we focus on Division II athletic scholarships. There is no place better to get answers than go the coaches who hand out those coveted scholarships.

Head Count Sports and Equivalency Sports

Here is a quick refresher about scholarship differences among sports. For a full description see Division I Athletic scholarships. It is the same for Division II.

There are two different categories for athletic scholarships: head count and equivalency sports.

First, in head count sports full scholarships are common. The list of these NCAA sports is short: men’s basketball and football, women’s basketball, gymnastics, tennis, and volleyball. The NAIA has a similar list of head count sports.

In contrast, all other sports are equivalency sports. You need to be aware of the available athletic scholarships for your sport. Equivalency sports are those sports in which the coaches have a certain dollar amount that can be split among multiple athletes in any proportion they choose.

To see the number of scholarships your sport has and more about head count and equivalency sports, go to Little Known Secrets About Athletic Scholarships

Now we will look in depth at Division II athletic scholarships.

How much money is out there and are you likely pay for school with your Division II athletic scholarship?

Let’s get the reality right out in the open. If you are in an equivalency sport, your chances of receiving a full ride (tuition, room and board) are so extremely rare that if you receive one, lightning has struck for you. A full ride scholarship should make you feel extremely grateful every day you put on that uniform and every day you go to class.

On the other hand, you have a slightly greater chance that you will receive a full tuition athletic scholarship, but still it is a slim chance that you cannot count on.

First thing to know: There is more money available in academic scholarships than in athletic scholarships

What can and should you be doing?

Go to class!

Study hard!

Finally, prepare for the ACT/SAT!

Your best chance of having a low bill to pay each semester is to take care of your academics. In the quotes below from a volleyball, tennis and a soccer coach you will see two common themes emerge:

  • First, there is not enough athletic money to pay everyone’s bill.
  • Also, academics are a big deal and make a big difference in how much scholarship money a student receives.

“We are able to split our scholarships between academic and athletic. A 3.4 and 3.5 GPA is a difference of $1,000 merit, so study hard! Division II men’s volleyball is only allowed 4.5 scholarships. (to see how many are available in your sport click here), so we have to be smart about whom we dole out athletic money to.”

Coach Sean Manzi, Men’s Volleyball of Belmont Abbey College

  • Tip: If a coach does offer you a full scholarship, ask if they are talking about full tuition or full everything including room and board. This is a huge difference. Room and board will cost you anywhere from about $8,000 to $15,000 per year.

“Most of our players are in some kind of scholarship, athletically and/or academically, more often than not we combined the two (athletic and academic scholarships) to be able to bring top recruits into our program. The majority of our top 6 players are in a full scholarship, and the others are in partial scholarships. Academics plays a big role for us. As a Division II program we can choose to split our scholarships between all of our players. We also love to have Walk-Ons in our program that want to be part of a top tennis program, improve their tennis, and experience college athletics.”

Coach Maria Lopez Women’s Tennis, of Barry University

Nobody on our roster has a scholarship greater than 50% of tuition. Actually, there are very few that are close to 50% of tuition. But the great thing is that our athletic scholarships can be combined with other scholarships: academic, private scholarships, grants, etc. Just because a player is not receiving much for our soccer program doesn’t mean they aren’t getting money from elsewhere. Every player on our roster has at least one type of financial aid.” 

Coach Samantha Snow of Georgia Southwestern State University

You may hear the term “Stacking Scholarships.” What does that mean?

Each of the above coaches talked about combining academic and athletic money. What is going on? Stacking is when a college allows the coach to give whatever amount of athletic scholarship they want and then the admissions department adds or stacks the academic, need based money, and other grants/aid on top of the athletic money. Not all schools stack scholarships.

Here are three coaches who use stacking to their advantage. You should recognize why it is to your advantage to get good grades and do well on the ACT/SAT.

“It really varies person to person.  We have a great asset here at Converse in that we can stack scholarships.  That means that you can receive an academic and athletic scholarship, plus any other institutional aid you qualify.  One of the best ways to increase your overall scholarship is to work hard on your academics in high school.

Coach Rick Parlow, Women’s Soccer of Converse College

“Most of our girls receive some sort of Athletic Aid. We do have a few walk-ons. No one is on a full Athletic Scholarship. We do have some girls that have full scholarships, but it is because they were able to stack Academic and Athletic Aid. It is extremely important for recruits to get good grades, because our players rely heavily on Academic Scholarships. Most programs are in the same boat.”

Coach Isaac Brooks, Women’s Soccer of Union University

“Division II allows 9 scholarships. At PBA we can ‘stack’ so GPA above a 3.3 is a really big deal to get academic money as well.”

Coach Brian McMahon, Men’s Soccer of Palm Beach Atlantic University

If you want Division II athletic scholarships: academics matter – a lot!

I cannot stress enough how much money there is in academic scholarships. And I cannot stress enough how many opportunities are open to you if you have a good GPA and ACT/SAT scores. If you get a great academic scholarship to a school, the coach may give you less athletic money. While this may not sound great for you, there is a benefit.

You will be a high value recruit because you can get a great financial package, but use up less of the coach’s scholarship money. This allows the coach to bring in more good players which elevates the quality of the team.

“An athletic scholarship on my team can vary between a mostly academic scholarship to a mostly athletic scholarship depending on how good of a student they are and obviously how good of a wrestler they are. Drury is a private school that incentivizes better students by awarding academic scholarship. I am also incentivized to recruit better students in terms of making school financially affordable for them. Currently I am in the process of building a team and scholarships will vary greatly.”

Coach James Reynolds, Men’s Wrestling Coach of Drury University

Division II athletic scholarships: the breakdown on rosters

How likely is it to get a Division II athletic scholarship? How much money are you likely to get? Each sport is different in the amount of scholarships they have available. (to see how many are available in your sport click here) I have included examples from three different sports; softball, men’s soccer, and women’s soccer. Earlier in the article, you can see an example from volleyball. Further down in the article, there is an example from men’s tennis.

No matter what sport you play, the examples will give you an idea how the coaches are dividing up their scholarship money and how much money they have available.

“In D2 we are allowed 7.2 scholarships and fortunately my university funds us to that level. Our goal is to have 18-20 athletes on scholarship each year. Our largest awards are usually tuition and fees with a percentage of living expenses, but we only have a couple of those. We have a number of athletes on tuition and fees, while others may receive monetary amounts like $1500 or $1000 per semester.”

Coach Kevin Blaskowski, Softball Coach of West Texas A & M

  • Tip to understand: In this example from West Texas A & M the amount of money the coach has available is equal to 7.2 full scholarships. But the money is divided between 18-20 athletes. He didn’t mention that he probably has another 5-10 players on the roster who have no scholarship.

“We have a total of 26 players on our team. About half of them receive $0 to $2000 per year scholarship. The other half will typically absorb a chunk of the scholarships. We are not fully funded unlike many other programs. The average is probably $1500-2000 per year which is approximately 10% scholarship.

Coach Andrew Wagstaff, Men’s Soccer Coach of Saginaw Valley State University

  • Tip to understand: When Coach Wagstaff says $1500-2000 per year is approximately 10% scholarship, this means the cost per year to go to school there is $20,000. You can’t rely only on athletic money to cover your bill.

“The maximum number of NCAA D2 scholarships for women’s soccer is 9.9 (not all teams have the full quota). This is 9.9 for the whole team, not 9.9 for every year! Our situation is that we have less than the full amount so we have to reward players who do well. In an incoming freshman class of 12 athletes for example, 6 may be on scholarship & 6 not on scholarship. Those who are not on scholarship may actually have more potential than the ones who are on scholarship, but they simply decided too late & we had already used up our athletic scholarship allotment. Out of the 6 who are not on scholarship as freshmen, maybe 3 of them will earn a scholarship for future years.”

Coach Nick Cowell, Women’s Soccer of St. Edwards University

  • Tip to apply: The earlier you develop a relationship with a coach, the more likely the coach is to offer you a scholarship. Timing and communication are as important as talent.

Division II athletic scholarships can be different within the same conference

Also, not all Division II schools use the full scholarship amount that the NCAA allows. Some conferences impose a limit less than the Division II allows. Further, each school has its own limitations. Many schools cannot afford to use their full allowance. You may not realize how little athletic money some coaches have to offer.

“The NCAA will allow a maximum of 9.9 scholarships for women’s soccer but some conferences put a cap on that number. I can say in our conference we have schools with as little as 2.5 scholarships and others that have the full 9.9. It is in the best interest of a recruit to make sure they have good grades so they can qualify for additional academic money.”

Former Coach Molly Grisham, Women’s Soccer of The University of Illinois Springfield

How room and board can affect your total bill even with an athletic scholarship

Finally, room and board is an additional expense on top of tuition and fees that you need to account for. Room and board is expensive. It can range from $8,000 to $15,000 per year. Colleges in densely populated areas will typically have higher dorm room costs.

“Men are allowed 4.5 scholarships by the NCAA. We currently have 3.7 scholarships used.  The women are allowed 6.0 scholarships by the NCAA.  We currently have 4.0 used. I try to be sure that my top seven players on the men and women’s teams are awarded scholarship packages at the cost of tuition. That leaves the player to cover room and board costs for themselves.” 

Coach Tom Linhart, Men’s Tennis of Roberts Wesleyan College

What is the best way to get Division II athletic scholarship offers?

Again, don’t count on the athletic scholarship to be a magical get through college free fund. Instead your diligence in the classroom is often more important than your athletic skills.

Timing and consistent communication with the coach provide you with the best chance of getting a Division II athletic scholarship. Developing a relationship with the coach also increases the odds that your athletic scholarship offer will be higher.

Division II athletic scholarships are limited. But your opportunities shouldn’t be!

Here is another great article about scholarships: 3 Reasons College Coaches Won’t Give You an Athletic Scholarship

If you want to be a college athlete…

If you are frustrated because coaches are not calling you…

How to Get Recruited If you are ready to get coaches to notice you…

Then the How to Get Recruited Guide will give you a step-by-step plan to turn your talent into offers. There’s a lot to learn about the recruiting process. How to Get Recruited condenses mountains of advice, and converts it to simple action steps that will get college coaches calling.

How to Get Recruited: Got Talent. Get a Plan. Get Recruited.


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