What Are Your Chances of Winning An Athletic Scholarship?


Photo by chelsea ferenando on Unsplash

The MN Lynx recently won their fourth WNBA title. Way to go ladies! No doubt, most of these talented athletes played basketball in college. I am sure quite a few of them also received scholarship money, maybe even so-called “full rides”, to play their sport at the college level and help fund their education.

If you are the parent of a young student-athlete you may be wondering if your child could qualify for an athletic scholarship to help pay for college.

In the free guide, My Favorite College Planning Tools and Resources, which can be downloaded from my website, I share several of my best resources for parents who want to pay less for their kids’ college education. One of my favorites is Scholarshipstats.com

At scholarshipstats.com you can research which schools offer athletic programs in your student’s sport. You can also see which ones are the D1, D2 or D3 schools. For example, 2019 schools offered varsity basketball programs in 2017. 349 of them at the Division 1 level for women. Of those, only one is in MN.

Wondering what the average scholarship amount is? Or the odds of qualifying for an athletic scholarship? You will find that here as well. The data geeks at scholarshipstats.com even crunched the numbers on the height of D1 basketball players, and figured out which states produced the most players. Apparently, basketball scholarship opportunities for 5’7” men from MN are somewhat limited.

In case you are wondering, MN ranked #30 in the nation for the 2016-2017 school year with 64 D1 basketball players (these numbers include both men and women). Only about 1.3% of all MN high school basketball players go on to play at the D1 level.

There is nothing wrong with playing sports in college. If you can get some scholarship dollars, so much the better. But at 1.3% the odds are not in your favor. Put another way, 98.7% off all students who play basketball (or just about any other sport) will never receive even a penny for their efforts.

Think your sport is different? Guess again. The odds of a hockey scholarship:  3.2% for men; 5.3% for women. Football? Only 2.6% of students compete at the D1 level. The figures for lacrosse, baseball, softball and many other sports aren’t any better.

Maybe you should go for it anyway. None of this is to say that you shouldn’t pursue an athletic scholarship if you have an exceptional athlete. After all, someone is going to get those scholarships it might as well be your student.

If you think your student is a potential candidate for an athletic scholarship or if you just want your student to have the opportunity to compete at the college level, there are some specific steps you should take.

However, as a financial planner, advising clients on athletic scholarships and how to market your student athlete is way out of my skill set. My expertise is in helping parents figure out how to pay less for college so they can still afford to retire one day. If you have a promising student athlete, this article lists specific steps they should take if they want to pursue sports in college.

For the other 98% of us… Continue to encourage your kids to pursue sports for all the right reasons. Just don’t count too heavily on big dollar athletic scholarships to help pay for your student’s college education.

A better option may be to focus on merit-based scholarship opportunities like academics, music and leadership. The average dollar amount of many merit-based scholarship opportunities is generally higher, and qualifying for these scholarships is much more attainable for most students.

To pay less for college do this:

First, download My Favorite College Planning Tools and Resources if you haven’t already. Becoming a smart consumer of a college education is critical to paying less for college. These resources will save you time as well as money.

Second, focus your resources on academics and other pursuits that are more likely to pay off such as ACT prep courses, getting college credits while still in high school, and selecting the right college.

Third, attend one of my live Pay Less for College presentations at a local high school near you. In this 90-minute presentation I educate parents on the best ways to reduce the total net cost of college, and help them create an action plan to pay less for their students’ college expenses.

A list of schools, dates and times is available at the top of my website. Just click the Speaking and Events tab at the top of the page.