Division II Scholarships

Division II Scholarships

Not every high school athlete will be good enough or even want to compete at the Division I level. But many of these athletes will still want to be rewarded for competing on behalf of their school through an athletic scholarship. Fortunately, this is a possibility at the Division II level.

Division II athletic programs do award athletic scholarships. Although the majority of Division II scholarships are offered in the form of partial scholarships, it is possible to be offered a full-ride. In addition to athletic scholarships, it is possible for Division II athletes to receive academic grants to help cover their cost of attendance.

Unlike Division I, where there are far more full-ride opportunities, Division II spreads fewer total scholarships across more athletes. This allows for athletic programs to still fund full rosters for their teams, and give more athletes some amount of scholarship money, with much smaller budgets than their Division I counterparts. Below, we will list the scholarship equivalent for each sport, explain how partial scholarships are distributed over a roster, and what it can mean financially for the athlete.

Division II Scholarship Breakdown

Even though Division II operates on a partial-scholarship model, the NCAA still limits the total amount of money each sport can grant its athletes in the form of full scholarship "equivalents." By full scholarship "equivalents" we mean this: a Division II school's men's soccer team gets a certain amount of money to cover the cost of the tuition for 9 full scholarship athletes. However, that does not mean that the only give money to 9 athletes. They can break this down amongst their entire roster, which is considered a partial scholarship. This is true for all sports at the Division II level. The coach has discretion to decide how much, if at all, of a scholarship to award each player. The breakdown of these equivalents by gender is as follows:

Men's Sports
Sport Scholarship Equivalents
Baseball 9
Basketball 10
Cross country & track 12.6
Football 36
Fencing 4.5
Golf 3.6
Gymnastics 5.6
Ice hockey 13.5
Lacrosse 10.8
Rifle 3.6
Skiing 6.3
Soccer 9
Swimming & Diving 8.1
Tennis 4.5
Volleyball 4.5
Water polo 4.5
Wrestling 9
Women's Sports
Sport Scholarship Equivalents
Basketball 10
Bowling 5
Cross country & track 12.6
Equestrian 15
Fencing 4.5
Field Hockey 6.3
Golf 5.4
Gymnastics 6
Ice hockey 18
Lacrosse 9
Rowing 20
Rugby 12
Sand volleyball 5
Soccer 9.9
Swimming & Diving 8.1
Tennis 6
Volleyball 8
Water polo 8

In general, the Division II full-ride equivalents are fewer than the Division I limits. For instance, Division I football is allowed to offer 85 players scholarship money, divided up however the coach chooses. In contrast, Division II football is limited to 35 full-ride equivalents. The NCAA allows Division I men's basketball to offer 13 full-ride scholarships and women's basketball 15 full-ride scholarships, while Division II is only allowed 10 full-ride equivalents for both men's and women's basketball.

How This Plays Out

To better understand how scholarships are distributed, let's examine a hypothetical basketball roster with 15 positions. Since the NCAA limits money granted to both men's and women's basketball to 10 full-ride equivalents, a DII coach will have to decide how to spread out the total grant money to make a full roster.

Honoring Seniority: One logical way for the coach to distribute the 10 scholarships is based on seniority. To keep things simple, a coach can decide that seniors get a full-ride, juniors receive a three-quarters of a scholarship, sophomores are awarded a half-scholarship and freshman only get a quarter of a scholarship. The exact amount awarded by class is always going to be affected by the number of the athletes in each class. Regardless of the exact amounts awarded, this approach rewards athletes who stick around and promotes a fair, equitable environment.

Rewarding Talent: Another common strategy that a coach can use is to distribute the scholarship money based on talent. This means a coach gives the starting five players the most amount of money because they are obviously the most talented players on the roster. After that, the coach has 5 full-ride scholarship equivalents to cover the remaining 10 players. Since the coach is distributing the grant money by talent, the next four best players may receive three-quarters of a full scholarship, leaving two total grants to distribute over the remaining six players. The coach decides the least talented two players receive no support and the remaining four athletes each get a half scholarship. This might be easier to see in the table blow.

Roster Position Scholarship Equivalents
1 1
2 1
3 1
4 1
5 1
6 .75
7 .75
8 .75
9 .75
10 .5
11 .5
12 .5
13 .5
14 0
15 0
Total 14

Although these two approaches to scholarship distribution are simple, they illustrate how a coach might go about splitting up scholarship money. As the roster's length grows or as the number of scholarship per roster position shrinks, coaches have a much more difficult time building out full teams.

What This Means Financially

Obviously, every athlete's situation is different, but it's fair to assume that, in general, athletes want as much of their cost of attending school to be covered by their athletic scholarship as possible. In both of the above approaches to distributing grant money, you are likely to receive different amounts different years. For instance, as you get older, under the "Honoring Seniority" method, you'll received more money. As you become a better athlete, under the "Rewarding Talent" method, your scholarship amount increases. This can mean your cost of attendance can be very different each year.

Let's examine your cost of attendance over four years if your coach uses the "Honoring Seniority" method. For simplicity, assume the cost to attend your school each year is $10,000. If we use the seniority model, as a freshman, you'll pay $7,500. As a sophomore, that reduces to $5,000. As a junior, that further reduces to $2,500. And lastly, your senior year, you have no out of pocket cost. This means your total out of pocket cost of school over four years is $15,000. This is a huge savings over the $40,000 it would cost had you received no athletic scholarship money at all.

Things To Keep In Mind

Scholarships Are One Year Contracts: Often athletes and their families think a scholarship offer is for the four years of college. Fortunately and unfortunately, that's not the case. Coaches are able to take scholarships away if athletes become bad actors, but they can also reward dedication, improvement and leadership by increasing your grant money each year.

Academic Scholarship Money: Don't forget that academic scholarship money is also available to athletes. If your athletic scholarship doesn't cover the full cost of tuition, you can still apply for academic scholarships to help cover the rest of tuition. Often, academic scholarships are four year contracts, only requiring the recipient to maintain a GPA above a certain level and have no conduct issues while on campus.

Balance Division Scholarship And Fit: Be sure you don't get hung up on needing a Division I scholarship. There are many reasons why an athlete might choose to compete at the Division II level. Campuses and class sizes are usually smaller, ensuring you receive more individualized academic attention from professors. You usually get more playing time and can make an impact on your team more quickly. Prioritize fit over division. There are many ways to cover the cost of attending college in addition to an athletic scholarship.