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Junior College Athletic Scholarships

Junior College Athletic Scholarships

Junior College Athletic Scholarships

There are many reasons athletes decide to go to a Junior College for their first two years.

  • Grades need improvement.
  • Financial reasons
  • Live at home for the first two years
  • Family reasons

If you play sports, are scholarships available? Can you attend school for free if you play? In our previous articles about scholarships, we have looked at Division 1 Athletic Scholarships, Division 2 Athletic Scholarships, Division III Scholarships (But Not Athletic Scholarships) and NAIA Athletic Scholarships. In each division full ride scholarships are rare. That is true with Junior Colleges (NJCAA/JUCO) as well. As in every other division, coaches have limited resources to divide among many players. I use two acronyms in this article:

  • NJCAA stands for National Junior College Athletic Association
  • JUCO stands for Junior College

This is the fifth in a five part series on the amount of scholarships actually available. Today we focus on Junior College athletic scholarships. There is no better place to get answers than from the coaches handing out those coveted scholarships.

Head Count sports and why it matters

Most sports in the NCAA and NAIA are Equivalency sports. For a full description of Equivalency sports are go to Little Known Secrets About Athletic Scholarships  At Junior Colleges all sports are head count sports.

Headcount sports are those in which any scholarship to a player, whether it is one dollar or a full scholarship, counts toward the program’s number of available scholarships.

The chart below details the Junior College athletic scholarships allowed by the NJCAA, the organization body for junior colleges. I have copied it from the NJCAA website. Junior colleges fall into one of three divisions. Don’t let this confuse you, these are not the NCAA divisions. These are NJCAA divisions.

Division Scholarship Guidelines
Division I Colleges may grant full athletic scholarships (tuition, books, fees, room & board), up to $250 in course required supplies and transportation costs one time per academic year to and from the college by direct route. Each sport has limits on the number of scholarships that can be granted.
Division II Colleges may grant athletic scholarships, but scholarships are limited to tuition, books, fees and up to $250 in course required supplies. Each sport has limits on the number of scholarships that can be granted.
Division III Colleges are not permitted to offer any athletic scholarships

This is a list of the maximum number athletic scholarships allowed by the NJCAA per sport.


The number of Junior College athletic scholarships allowed on rosters per sport is higher than the NCAA and NAIA, including NCAA Division I. That is amazing! In fact, several sports allow scholarships that are almost double the amount NCAA Division I allows. For you, that means there are more total scholarships available.

There are a good number of full scholarships at junior colleges.

“A fully funded junior college has 3 full scholarships and 6 scholarships [these numbers reflect the 9 allotted scholarships available for tennis, other sports have different numbers: see chart above] that can cover only tuition, fees, and books. This is true for both the men’s and women’s teams. At TJC specifically, if a tennis player receives the second scholarship option then they only need to pay about $2,500 a semester. The cost of school is another reason why junior college can be a great option for many.

Coach Dash Connell, Men’s and Women’s Tennis, of Tyler Junior College

If you are looking at junior colleges, ask what division they are in. The division dictates what athletic scholarships the school is able to give. A Division I school can cover room and board, but Division II schools cannot (again, please remember these are the NJCAA divisions not the NCAA).

“As a NJCAA Division II school, we are not allowed to pay for housing. We do have the capability to pay for athlete’s tuition, books and fees.”

Coach Matt Vavro, Women’s Basketball of Danville Area Community College

There are schools that provide the maximum scholarships allowed, but even at these schools there are athletes who receive no scholarship on the team as well.

“We like to carry 20-24 athletes that are the right fit for our team culture. Since NJCAA allows us as a DI program, 18 athletes on scholarship that does mean we have 2-6 athletes that are not receiving any scholarship.

Coach Steven Linamen, Women’s Soccer of Polk State College

“Simply the NJCAA only allows 18 players to receive any sort of athletic aid. With our roster this fall of 26 guys, this will mean at least eight will not be on athletic money. Also we do not offer full athletic scholarships. I always look to help the player get the best institutional package possible and then show them outside resources for scholarships and grants. College is an investment and there are lots of resources out there that many people don’t know about.”

Coach Rudy Roediger, Men’s Soccer of Andrew College

Many Junior Colleges provide the maximum number of athletic scholarships. However, schools do not have to use the fully allotted amount of scholarships per sport. The NJCAA does not require schools to offer fully funded scholarships to players. This means the amount and number of junior college athletic scholarships varies greatly. Junior colleges have a lot of discretion to meet the needs of students and stay within their limited budgets. Each junior college you look at will be a little different.

Need based aid

When is it good to be poor? Colleges meet the needs in different ways or in combinations of way. The three big ways for athletes to receive grants/aid; academic aid, athletic aid, and need based aid. There is also federal aid in the form of the Pell Grant, which is like a scholarship from the federal government based on need. If you receive need based aid and a Pell Grant, you have one small reason to be thankful you are poor. The Pell Grant can be enough to make a significant difference in the cost of college.

“As a division II NJCAA institution, we are only allowed to give tuition and fees, which totals out to about $1375 a semester. The Pell Grant goes on top of that, which is a need based grant. That dollar amount is based on their parent’s income.”

Coach Erin Smith, Softball of Coahoma Community College

Individual colleges have budget limitations.

Here are examples of budgetary limitations from colleges.

The NJCAA allows 24 fully funded softball scholarships. (See chart above.) Glen Oaks Community College is a small school that has to bring in enough revenue to operate. They cannot fully fund all of their players. The softball coach divides $9,500 among all of his players. Though amounts vary, this is typical for junior colleges.

“Being a small college we only get $9500 for the whole team. The breakdown is 0 to $1500 per player. The amount of financial aid a player receives depends on their ability and other financial aid they get in from the college and federal assistance.”

Coach Tom Muckel, Softball of Glen Oaks Community College

Dakota County Technical College addresses the needs of their players in a different way. Each athlete receives $1,000 in athletic aid toward their bill. The college helps them find other grants or aid to apply for and many are able to leave the community college debt free.

“Technically, the term is “grant in athletic aid”. We grant $1000 for our recruits on a $5500 annual cost. Once a student has applied we steer them to the many other ways they can reduce and eliminate bills or have the need to take on debt.  At the end of the day, the vast majority of our students leave debt free.  Most programs, including us do not have full rides.”

Coach Cam Stoltz, Men’s Soccer of Dakota County Technical College

“We are able to scholarship 24 athletes and since we are the Division I level, we can fully fund those 24. In our situation specifically, we are not fully funded. Most programs are not, therefore we need to take our allocations and disperse them as best we can to find the best student athletes we can find. Some years we aren’t able to spread the ‘wealth’ among 24 players and may only have 22 on scholarship. It is a difficult task for sure and in our program we hover in the 20+ for walk-ons. In a Utopian world I wish we could scholarship everyone, but we cannot of course.”

Coach Jeff Brabant, Baseball of Miles Community College

Academics Matter

Not all community colleges choose to give athletic aid. They may offer decent financial packages, but they are not in athletic money. The junior college may reward students with academic aid instead. Once again, academics are important in high school.  I have said this many times on this blog, and it is still true. There is more money in academics than there is in athletics. This is true for both junior colleges and four year schools.

If you are thinking you don’t need to worry about your grades because you are planning to attend a two year school, think again. You could save yourself thousands of dollars by taking academics seriously. Not to mention your future career options are much greater if you work hard in school. Athletics can only take you so far. Do you know even if you want to go into coaching, you would need at least a college degree? Most college coaches have a Master’s degree and a few have Doctorates. Work hard in high school and be eligible for academic aid.

Our Students only get academic aid.

Coach Enda Crehan, Men’s Soccer of Patrick Henry Community College

“We are allowed to give athletic scholarships based on a combination of academics, ability, and need. Student athletes are usually awarded a higher award package for higher academic performance. I want players to excel in the classroom. In addition, as an independent, residential, two year college; Andrew College does not have out-of-state costs for students making us competitive with a larger pool of student athletes.”

Coach Cory Harbinson, Women’s Soccer of Andrew College

Between academic scholarships and athletic scholarships everything is typically covered for our players including: tuition, housing, meals, and books.”

Coach Garett Sherman, Women’s Basketball of Western Wyoming Community College

Free tuition to junior colleges

As of August, 2018 ten states provide free tuition for junior colleges to in-state residents. Some of these states have additional requirements. Arkansas requires the graduate to remain in the state for two years; if the graduate moves they must pay the state back. Many states require you to be a graduate of an in-state high school or homeschool.

There are now at least 17 states that offer free tuition for in-state community colleges and this list continues to grow. Here is a list that has put together.

If you live in a state with free tuition to junior colleges, you have an amazing opportunity to get an education. Take advantage of it!

Athletic scholarships for transfer students

After you complete two years of competition at a junior college, you will have two years of eligibility remaining at a four year institution. Transfer students are eligible for athletic scholarships. How much you get depends on how good you are.

Have you looked at junior colleges? Do you need a couple more years of academic preparedness? Can you afford the cost of a four year college? A junior college can prepare you to enter the workforce while providing two more years of competition in the sport you love. Or a junior college may be the perfect stepping stone to a four year degree. A junior college is a great option to consider.

If you want to be a college athlete at a two year or four year college,How to Get Recruited

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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4 thoughts on “Junior College Athletic Scholarships”

  1. I know a full qualifier, went to a JUCO this year and wants to transfer to another JUCO in state. Does she need to get a release from her current school. Where would I find information about transfers from JUCO to JUCO and/or JUCO to another, a four year institution?

    1. This is a great question. I have not been asked this before. I would encourage you to call an athletic director at the JUCO the athlete wants to transfer to and ask. My guess is that if an athlete is transferring before they receive a degree from the community college they will have to sit out a year. That is just a guess. Call an athletic director to make sure you have the correct information.

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