College Soccer: The Best Way to Earn a Full Scholarship

College soccer recruitment is highly competitive. Only 6% of high school players go on to play collegiate soccer at any level, but only a few will earn athletic scholarships. 

Athletic scholarships decrease your cost of university. Coaches use athletic scholarship to attract talented players to their program. Usually, a coach’s top prospects will be offered a full scholarship, meaning the player doesn’t pay any tuition fees. Sometimes, players will even earn a stipend for living costs. 

However, athletic scholarships are limited. It’s very rare to receive a 100% athletic scholarship offer from your coach. Instead, a full scholarship is usually broken down into two parts: 

  • The athletic offer
  • The academic offer

If a player can qualify for an academic scholarship from their institution, it reduces the coach’s cost in an athletic scholarship. 

If you want a full scholarship to college for athletics, it’s usually not enough to be good at your sport. Good academics will save your coach scholarship allowance and give you the best opportunities.

Set yourself apart from other players in every way possible. Make sure to do your homework on how the scholarship system works!


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Scholarships Are Limited

Not every school offers the same amount of athletic scholarship. Scholarship allowances vary based on:

  • A school’s athletic funding
  • A school’s division level
  • Gender

A school’s own policies will determine their athletic funding. The scholarship allowance for a school’s division level and gender are set by the NCAA. 

To highlight how a schools division level and the team’s gender impact scholarship allowance, I have included two tables created by the NCSA below (women & men).

Men’s Soccer Allowance
Women’s Soccer Allowance

As can be seen from the table above, men’s and women’s scholarships vary most at the DI level, at 9.9 and 14 respectively.

How Are Scholarships Distributed?

The NCAA does not have requirements on how scholarships can be distributed between players. To build a strong team, coaches will offer different amounts of scholarships to different players. 

For example: A DI Men’s Soccer Program has 9.9 full athletic scholarships to offer. 

He could distribute athletic scholarships this way:

  • 9 players get 100% scholarship
  • 1 player gets 90% scholarship
  • 18 players get 0% offers

Or, he could do this (roughly):

  • 4 players get 100%
  • 1 player gets 70%
  • 6 players get 60%
  • 4 players get 40%
  • 13 players 0%. 

Distributing athletic scholarship allowance more evenly across the team allows coaches to entice more talent to their program.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough money to fund the entire team.

How Do Academics Play A Role?

College fees can be costly, especially at top universities. To tempt you to their program, coaches know they have to offer more scholarship money to cover your costs. 

Academic scholarship is a great way for coaches to use less of their allowance, while keeping your cost down.

The requirements for academic scholarship vary between schools. Campbell University in North Carolina requires a minimum 3.0 GPA across all your college classes. UCLA however, requires a 3.0 GPA just to be enrolled. It’s important to check the requirements when applying.

The reward is great if you can keep your academics above the required level. A 50% academic scholarship ensures a coach only needs to assign you a 50% athletic scholarship for a full ride. This makes you much more attractive than a prospect who is at a similar level but requires a 100% athletic scholarship.

Academics will earn you the scholarship, but you also have to work hard to keep it. 

The NCAA requires players to maintain a 1.8-2.0 GPA to be eligible to play. That’s the equivalent to all Cs on a report card. 

If you find yourself flirting with straight Cs in high school while seeking scholarship, coaches may see that you’re too much of a risk. They won’t offer money to a player who won’t be able to play.

If you find yourself in the same situation while you’re already playing in college, you could risk academic probation (like a suspension from the sport) or losing your scholarship completely.

It’s not just your parents that say you can’t play until you’ve done your homework!

A Note on Location

This is something that’s often forgotten. The location of your desired school influences the funds available for you. 

The average merit aid scholarship in the U.S. is $8,786 in-state and $4,881 out of state. If you are looking to play out-of-state, a college coach will have to pay more to recruit you.

Play Hard, Study Hard

Before you prioritize soccer over school, understand that the NCAA coiled the term student-athlete for a reason. You’re a student first. 

So finish your math homework, get passing grades, and you have a better chance at playing collegiate soccer on a full scholarship.

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