As a Student-Athlete your university is a member of one of these Sports Organizations:
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
These three organizations NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA have their own rules, budgets, scholarships requirements, etc. From an educational standpoint there are excellent universities in any of their divisions or organizations. That is why it is very important to know the differences among them before deciding which one to attend. Remember our belief that your decision not for the next 4 years, but for the next 40 years of your life. Geographically American Universities can be located in the center of a city, or in the suburbs or in rural areas. The location conditions the type of student life experienced after class and on the weekends.
The NCAA consists of more that 1,000 universities and colleges with close to 350.000 student-athletes. NCAA is divided into three divisions: Division I, Division II and Division III. The Athletic Scholarships are offered only at the Division I and II levels. The Division III athletes can receive "merit-based and/or financial need". The student-athletes considering Division I or II must register and comply with all the requirements of the NCAA Eligibility Center. The NCAA distributes, as a whole, more than $ 1.5 billion in scholarships to student-athletes.
NCAA Division I (www.ncaa.org/d1)
This division ranks at the top of the athletic competition with the best athletes. There are 347 Universities in 49 States. The schools tend to be large with big sports programs. Many athletes join this division with their hopes to become professionals, however, statistically, only 1% of them will eventually reach the professional level. The number of student-athlete is close to 70,000. The scholarships could be total (full ride) or partial.
NCAA Division II (www.ncaa.org/d2)
This division offer scholarships mainly for sports, but there are also some educational aids. There are 312 Universities in 45 States. The schools tend to be public or private and with a student body of about 10,000. All the scholarships in this division are "equivalency scholarships", meaning that they are mainly partial scholarships (although there are full ride as well) scholarships. There are more than 107,000 student-athlets in this division.
NCAA Division III (www.ncaa.org/d3)
In this division you will find schools not offering athletic scholarships. The scholarships are merit based or financial need based. These universities are an excellent option for education if the student can get a full or partial scholarship based on his academics. There are 442 Universities in 34 States. The schools are usually small and can be public or private. NCAA Division III is the largest of the three divisions. It is home to more than 175.000 student-athletes representing more than 50% of the students in the NCAA. If your family income is below $ 75,000, there is a good opportunity to get a scholarship. The admission requirements in Div III are quite different to Div I and II. This division pays more attention to you grades and your scores on the SAT / ACT y TOEFL exams. Although these are educational aids you still join the university as a student-athlete.
This association is smaller than the NCAA. The majority of the colleges are located in the West and Mid West of the United States. Nevertheless the NAIA is a formidable association with more than 300 colleges and universities y over 60,000 student-athletes. The sport competition level is somewhat similar to a NCAA Division II school.
The schools tend to have a smaller student body. That is why they are also an excellent option for those students seeking a more personal treatment.
The NAIA sport program seeks to foster 5 core characters: integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and leadership. The goal is to mold model citizens. The NAIA schools offer close to $ 450 Million in student-athlete scholarships. Each sport has a different limit. The scholarships can be partial or full ride. The coach can use the money at his/her discretion. For instance if a sports has allocated 24 scholarships, the coach can offer 24 full rides or he/she can offer 12 full ride, plus 12 aids at 50% and another 24 aids at 25%, thus reaching 48 student-athletes with financial help.
NAIA has also its own Eligibility Center. The students must meet at least 2 of the following 3:
SAT score of at least 860 or ACT score of at least 18
High School average grade of 2.0(scale of 4.0)
To graduate in the top half of your class
There are less recruiting rules in the NAIA than in the NCAA. The NAIA coaches can contact students at any time. Usually a longer and more often contact with the coach can generate solid relationships.
The NJCAA hosts 513 Junior y Community Colleges. There are 15 sports. In their majority, these are 2 year schools. They are a good option for those student not admitted to 4 year schools. Once the student receives his 2 year degree, he/she can transfer to a 4 year school and almost all the credits will be transferred. Parallel to the NJCAA and running as separate organizations are the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA), and the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC), together with over 200 universities.
Our preference is to opt for 4 year schools.
The following table indicates the amount of athletic scholarships that a Division I or Division II school can offer. Division III and NAIA universities follow different rules. Coaches in both NCAA Division III and NAIA can talk to athletes at any time. The decimal in these tables indicate that the scholarship is partial.