Recruit Doctor: Financial aid 101 for student athletes

Recruit Doctor: Financial aid 101 for student athletes


In 1989, I was a high school senior who decided to attend St. John Fisher College ( and play for their soccer team. If I knew then what I know now, I could have been eligible for more financial aid than I received!

Q: How do athletic scholarships work?

A: There is limited athletic money for students and a lot of bad information regarding athletic scholarships. Division I, Division II and NAIA schools are the only four-year schools that can offer athletic scholarships. Keep in mind that only 5 percent of high school athletes will play at the college level and fewer still will actually receive athletic scholarships.

Here are two things that most parents and students don’t know.

  1. Not all college program scholarships are fully funded. Many schools don’t have the financial resources to give programs the maximum amount of scholarships.
  2. Since athletic money is very limited, coaches will look to get other scholarships (academic, leadership, etc.) for a recruit before cutting into athletic scholarship money.

Q: What else can I do to help with financial aid?

A: Colleges are looking for diverse student athletes, so participate in academic clubs, volunteer, and seek out leadership roles. Submit your FAFSA and scholarship applications early. If you qualify, talk to the coach about a work study job in the athletic department. You also might want your parents to meet with a college financial planner.

Chris Bianchi is president of Red Penguin Athletics (, an athlete placement service in upstate New York.


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