College Sports Scholarships: Hoop Dreams or Pipe Dreams?

Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Odds makers pick UVA as the favorite to win the Final Four when the NCAA College Basketball tournament comes to the Twin Cities in just a few days.

While the excitement of a national championship may inspire hoop dreams of your own, the odds of your student-athlete winning a Division 1 athletic scholarship are quite small.

According to, less than 1% of young men who play basketball in high school go on to play at a NCAA D1 school.

Young women don’t fare much better. Only 1.2% of them will play basketball at the D1 level.

A better game plan might be to focus on schools that promise to meet all or part of your student’s financial need, Carleton College, Grinnell College and Macalester College come to mind.

Or those that offer significant amounts of merit-based financial aid. Here in the Midwest most schools named after a saint would qualify: University of St. Thomas, The College of Saint Benedict or Gustavus Adolphus (ok, not actually named after saint, but a school that should be on your list nevertheless).

If that doesn’t work, consider schools that are less expensive to begin with. Most state colleges and universities would fit the bill as long as you pay resident rates.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with going after a major sports scholarship. But for most student athletes, most of the time, other college planning strategies may give you a better chance of getting the win.