Jon Clement, a seasoned collegiate coach and recruiter, has helped many students navigate their scholarships and make the most of their opportunities. There are many misconceptions about scholarships, and a large number of students are unsure of how to advance their athletic and collegiate career by making the most of their financial awards. Clement explores some of the most common misconceptions, and offers insight to help students advance their opportunities.
Clement suggests that sports-based scholarships are some of the most prized forms of financial aid for students. Not every school offers this type of assistance, including Division III and Ivy League schools, and the competition for it is incredibly high. However, students can give themselves an advantage by better understanding these financial awards.
Biggest organizations in collegiate athletics
Athletic scholarships are generally given out by three main organizations. They include:
-National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
-National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
-National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA)
The most predominant of the three is the NCAA. Smaller universities and colleges are typically related with the NAIA, and the NJCAA is meant to work with junior and community colleges.
What types of scholarships are available?
In general, there are five types of scholarships that student athletes can benefit from most.
Four full-year scholarship. This includes a “full ride,” and is the most prized athletic scholarship available.
Full one-year renewable. This scholarship is renewed at the end of every year if a student has met all requirements of their individual contract.
One-year trial. This can be given out as a partial or a full scholarship. It typically requires a verbal agreement between the school and student. The grant may be renewed at the end of the school year. However, this is dependent on a student’s athletic and academic achievements, as they must meet all pre-determined standards.
Partial. A partial scholarship will cover some of a student’s college expenses. This may include tuition, room and board, or books.
Waive of out-of-state fees. Out-of-state students may be able to attend a school at the same price that an in-state student would have to pay.
What do “full ride” scholarships really cover?
One of the biggest misconceptions about sports scholarships is that they can cover every part of a student’s college expenses. Typically, no scholarship will cover the full cost of attending a university. Full athletic scholarships generally cover:
-Some course-specific expenses
-Room and board
-Costs related to textbooks
These scholarships may not provide funds to pay for student fees, a single dormitory room, library fees, parking fines, and other incurred costs.
What are equivalency sports?
Clement explains that in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division I sports, specifically, there are “head count” sports and “equivalency” sports. Depending on the type, students may be subjected to an outside source defining where their aid money is going.
Headcount sports: Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Football, Women’s Gymnastics, Women’s Tennis, Women’s Volleyball.
Equivalency sports: All other sports, and most Division II sports, are considered equivalent.
Equivalency sports give coaches the freedom to divide scholarships up as they see fit, as long as they follow guidelines, and do not exceed the maximum scholarship value for their sport. For example, a coach may choose to provide an athlete with coverage for their tuition, another athlete may receive funds for their lodging, and another athlete may be given scholarship money to pay for their textbooks.
Do other scholarships impact athletic aid?
Clement explains that an athlete who is recipient of athletic money is considered a “counter,” as specified by the NCAA. Once a student is a “counter,” he or she may be subject to instances where other financial aid funds may be required to “count” toward their athletic aid.
Other scholarships they receive, such as money from a Rotary club, or a church group, typically needs to be sent to the financial aid office of the student’s college. This money is then processed as per requirements, and may be subject to count toward their athletic scholarship. The NCAA may mandate that the organization, which gave money to the student, must complete forms to decide if athletics were a component of its scholarship requirements.
Furthermore, if students are given academic scholarships, because of a commendable GPA or standardized exam score, they are typically already an NCAA counter. This could impact the amount they receive in their academic scholarship, as well. Students must always remember that if they are considered a “counter,” all financial scholarships may be subject to NCAA scrutiny. It could impact their athletic scholarship, unless a student qualifies for an exemption.
Clement explains that student athletes should avoid placing all of their financial focus on athletic scholarships. Rather, they should look toward academic ones. By keeping a high GPA, students are more likely to receive aid for their excellent schoolwork.
Even more so, Jon Clement asserts that students should focus even more on their out-of-pocket expenses, rather than the dollars they receive from aid. No matter how much or how little an athlete is given from an outside organization, there will always be expenses they are required to cover. If they cannot, they may be subject to penalties which may even include expulsion from their sport or the school.
When exploring the possibilities that athletic scholarships can bring to students, athletes should assess their finances and aid carefully. It can never hurt to take time to speak with an athlete mentor before making life changing decisions. Pay close attention to “equivalency” versus “headcount,” understand the differences between each type of scholarship, and always know that to receive funds, students must perform well in class.
Clement has gained significant coaching experience as a college women’s soccer coach in his 17 years in the profession. In 2006, he joined Southern Oregon University to become the second head soccer coach in the program’s history. In 2010, Jon Clement was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Co-Coach of the year.