How to Get a Soccer Scholarship
Do you have dreams of getting a soccer scholarship? Or, maybe you are a parent of a talented soccer player who is wondering how your child can get a scholarship for soccer. Well, you’ve come to the right place!
The good news is that there are ample opportunities for student-athletes to continue playing soccer after high school. However, the process of securing a soccer scholarship can be competitive and challenging.
To start, it’s important to understand the different types of soccer scholarships available. Athletic scholarships are available for men’s and women’s soccer at the NCAA Division 1 and Division 2 levels. Each division has different rules for scholarship allocation, which we’ll explain later in this article.
Additionally, some schools may offer academic scholarships or other forms of financial aid that can help offset the cost of tuition and living expenses.
In this article, we’ll cover everything from assessing your athletic and academic abilities to navigating the scholarship application process. Read on…
Understanding Soccer Scholarships
What is a soccer scholarship?
A soccer scholarship is a financial aid package given to a student-athlete who excels in soccer and is pursuing a college degree.
Soccer scholarships are awarded by colleges and universities in the United States to recruit talented players for their soccer teams. These scholarships can help cover tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other school-related expenses.
Types of soccer scholarships
There are different types of soccer scholarships available for student-athletes. The most common types are:
- Full scholarships: cover all tuition, room and board, textbooks, and other expenses.
- Partial scholarships: covers only a portion of the expenses, such as tuition or room and board.
- Athletic scholarships: awarded to student-athletes who excel in soccer and meet the eligibility requirements.
- Academic scholarships: awarded to students who have outstanding academic achievements.
It is important to note that not all colleges and universities offer soccer scholarships, and the availability of scholarships varies by institution and division level.
Requirements for a soccer scholarship
To be eligible for a soccer scholarship, you must meet certain requirements. The requirements vary by division level, but some common requirements include:
- Being a high school graduate or equivalent
- Maintaining a minimum grade point average (GPA)
- Meeting the NCAA eligibility requirements
It is important to research the requirements of each college you are interested in and to communicate with coaches and recruiters to learn more about the recruitment process and scholarship opportunities. The more details, the better.
How Many Soccer Scholarships Are Available?
Unfortunately, compared to other major sports, soccer has fewer available scholarships to award student-athletes. The number of soccer scholarships varies depending on the division of the school and the gender of the team.
For Division I men’s soccer programs, a maximum of 9.9 scholarships can be given out each year. These scholarships can be a mix of full-ride scholarships and partial scholarships. At the same time, some D1 men’s soccer programs might have fewer scholarships available due to budget limits.
For Division II men’s soccer programs, a maximum of 9 scholarships can be given out each year. These scholarships can also be a mix of full-ride scholarships and partial scholarships.
For Division III men’s soccer programs, athletic scholarships are not offered. However, financial aid and merit-based scholarships may still be available.
For women’s soccer programs, the number of scholarships available is slightly higher. Division I women’s programs can give out a maximum of 14 soccer scholarships a year, while Division II women’s programs can give out a maximum of 9.9 scholarships a year. As with men’s programs, some schools may have fewer scholarships available due to budget limits.
|Division||Max Scholarships per School|
|D1 - men's||9.9|
|D1 - women's||14|
|D2 - men's||9|
|D2 - women's||9.9|
|D3 - men's||N/A|
|D3 - women's||N/A|
|NAIA - men's & women's||12|
|NJCAA - men's & women's||18|
Instead of giving out all full scholarships, some mid-tier schools will spread out their scholarships among their top talent.
Preparing for a Soccer Scholarship
If you’re interested in getting a soccer scholarship, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for the process. In this section, we’ll cover some of the key areas you should focus on to increase your chances of success.
Developing your soccer skills
First and foremost, you need to be a strong soccer player to be considered for an athletic scholarship. That means putting in the time and effort to develop your skills. Here are a few things you can do to improve:
- Practice regularly: The more you play, the better you’ll get. Try to practice every day if possible.
- Strengthen your strengths: If you are considering college now then it probably means you’re in high school. In these years, you want to become a more valuable player. To do this, focus on what makes you unique (your strengths) and double down on them.
- Level up on your weaknesses: Identify areas where you need improvement and focus on those. For example, if you struggle with passing accuracy, spend extra time working on your passing skills.
- Play with better and older players: If you have the opportunity to play with more experienced or skilled players, take advantage of it. Playing with better players can help you improve faster.
In addition to your soccer skills, you’ll also need to have strong academic credentials to be considered for a scholarship. Here are some steps you can take to prepare academically:
- Focus on your grades: Aim for high grades in all your classes, particularly in core subjects like math, science, and English.
- Take challenging courses: Colleges want to see that you’re capable of handling rigorous coursework, so take challenging classes if possible.
- Understand the benefits of submitting SAT or ACT: Most colleges don’t require you to submit standardized tests anymore. But, if you score high, it could be a differentiator. An unofficial rule of thumb may be to submit your 1400 but hide your 900.
Networking and exposure
Finally, you’ll need to get yourself in front of college coaches to be considered for a scholarship. Here are some ways to do that:
- Attend soccer camps and showcases: These events give you the opportunity to showcase your skills in front of college coaches. For club teams, attending showcases will be part of their normal schedule.
- Reach out to coaches: Don’t be afraid to email or call coaches to introduce yourself and express your interest in their program.
- Use social media: Many coaches use social media to find and evaluate potential recruits, so make sure your profiles are up-to-date and professional.
By focusing on these areas, you can increase your chances of getting considered for a soccer scholarship.
Finding Soccer Scholarships
Actively finding scholarships can be beneficial in some cases. In other cases, soccer scholarships will find you – if you are good enough. Here are some ways to find soccer scholarships and how to apply for them.
Where to Look for Soccer Scholarships
There are several places you can look for soccer scholarships. Here are a few options:
- NCAA: The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the governing body for college athletics in the United States. They offer scholarships for Division I and Division II schools. You can search for scholarships on their website.
- NAIA: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) also offers scholarships for student-athletes. They have over 250 colleges and universities in their organization.
- Junior Colleges: Junior colleges can be a great option for student-athletes who want to continue playing soccer while getting their general education requirements out of the way. They also offer scholarships.
- Private Scholarships: There are many private organizations that offer scholarships for student-athletes. You can search for these scholarships on websites like Fastweb and Scholarships.com. The private route won’t provide you with an athletic scholarship but can provide you with financial assistance to attend college and possibly walk on to the soccer team.
Applying for Soccer Scholarships
Once you’ve found some soccer scholarships that you’re interested in, it’s time to start applying. Here are some tips to help you with the application process:
- Check the Requirements: Make sure you meet the requirements for the scholarship before you apply. Some scholarships may require a certain GPA or test scores.
- Submit Your Application Early: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your application. A good target to shoot for is to start applying the summer before your senior year. Many scholarships have early deadlines, and you don’t want to miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t submit your application on time.
- Get Recommendations: Most scholarships require letters of recommendation. Ask your coach or club director to write a letter of recommendation for you.
- Create a Strong Essay: If pursuing a scholarship outside of athletics, schools may require an essay. Make sure you take the time to write a strong essay that showcases your personality and why you deserve the scholarship.
- Keep Track of Deadlines: Make a list of all the scholarships you’re applying for and their deadlines. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you don’t miss any deadlines. Don’t rely heavily on parents for this. They have other things going on. Hold yourself accountable to deadlines and important dates.
Making the Most of Your Soccer Scholarship
If you are fortunate enough to receive a soccer scholarship, it is crucial to make the most of it. Here are some tips on how to maximize your scholarship benefits, maintain eligibility, and prepare for life after college.
To maintain your soccer scholarship, you must meet certain academic requirements.
The GPA requirements for a soccer scholarship depend on the school, but generally, you must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher. It is important to prioritize your studies and attend all your classes to ensure that you meet the academic requirements.
Additionally, you must also comply with the NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA rules and regulations. This is especially true for NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deals.
NIL is a new set of rules that allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. This means that college soccer players can now earn money from endorsements, sponsorships, and other opportunities related to their athletic abilities. However, there are still some restrictions on what types of deals athletes can enter into, and they must disclose their agreements to their schools. The NCAA has recently changed its rules to allow for NIL, and individual states may also have their own laws governing the issue.
Maximizing Your Scholarship Benefits
Your soccer scholarship can provide you with a wide range of benefits beyond just tuition and fees. Here are some ways to maximize your scholarship benefits:
- Take advantage of the academic support services offered by your school, such as tutoring, study groups, and academic advisors.
- Participate in extracurricular activities and clubs to enhance your personal and professional development.
- Attend soccer camps and clinics during the offseason to improve your skills and increase your exposure to college coaches and scouts.
- Network with alumni and other professionals to build relationships and explore career opportunities.
Preparing for Life After College
While your soccer scholarship can provide you with an excellent education and athletic experience, it is important to prepare for life after college. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your future:
- Take advantage of internship and job opportunities to gain work experience and build your resume.
- Attend career fairs and networking events to explore different career paths and connect with potential employers.
- Start building your professional network early by connecting with alumni, professors, and professionals in your field.
- Consider pursuing additional education or training to enhance your skills and qualifications.
- Consider coaching or training soccer, or doing something related in the field as you’ve already shown a passion for it.
Does Joining a Soccer Club Help?
Joining a soccer club can be a great way to improve your skills and increase your chances of getting a soccer scholarship. Here are a few reasons why:
- Consistent Training: Soccer clubs often hold consistent and intense training sessions to help you stay in shape and improve your skills. You may be training with other college-caliber players every week which can only help you compete at the next level.
- Exposure to Coaches: Soccer clubs often have connections with college coaches and scouts. By joining a club, you may have the opportunity to attend showcases and tournaments where coaches can see you play. We are hearing more and more college scouts prefer to watch club over high school soccer.
- Competition: Playing for a soccer club can expose you to higher levels of competition. This can help you improve your skills and show coaches that you can play at a high level.
- Networking: Joining a soccer club can also help you build relationships with other players and coaches. These relationships can be valuable when it comes to finding and applying for soccer scholarships. Some U.S. soccer organizations will have a close relationship with colleges in the area. You may get more looks because of it.
Is Going to College Important?
Honestly, a college degree isn’t what it used to be but it’s still important for soccer players for several reasons.
First, college soccer is a great way to continue playing at a high level and to develop your skills further. In some cases, college can be a stepping stone to getting drafted to a professional league like the MLS.
Additionally, college can provide access to resources and opportunities that can help you succeed both on and off the field, such as academic support, networking opportunities, and internships.
College will provide you with valuable life skills. You need to manage your time, eat properly on your own, and function as an adult. Your parents won’t be there to tell you what to do. They won’t be on campus to do your laundry (or maybe they will 😉). It’s a good transition from being a young adult to a more mature adult.
Every athlete’s path is different, and some soccer players may choose to pursue professional opportunities straight out of high school instead of going to college.
Ultimately, the decision to go to college or pursue professional opportunities depends on a variety of factors, including your individual goals, skills, and circumstances.
There’s no doubt about it…getting a soccer scholarship requires hard work, dedication, and the right approach.
It is important to begin preparing early, by developing your soccer skills and maintaining good grades in school.
Take advantage of social media and start developing a library of your soccer clips. Keep a good mix of videos at your disposal to start posting.
By following these tips and staying focused on your academic and soccer goals, you can increase your chances of getting a scholarship. We certainly hope to hear about you at the next level!