How To Apply For Sports Scholarships In USA

US college sports is at the highest level in the world, offering numerous opportunities to student-athletes including scholarships to cover the cost of their education. Here, you will find out how to apply for sports scholarships in USA and essential tips that will guide you to win US sports scholarships.

College in the US is expensive and a lot of families cannot afford it so they turn to student loans to pay for college which leaves the student in a lot of debt when he or she graduates. Oftentimes, these families forget that there are grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities that exist that they can use to pay for college without paying back or maybe they do not just know of the existence of these financial aid.

One such financial aid opportunity that can help pay for college is athletic scholarships and these are very popular in the US. If you actively participate in high school sports there is no way you wouldn’t have heard about sports scholarships, in fact, you might have been nominated for one by your coach, that is if you wish to continue as a student-athlete in college.

This, in fact, is the dream of every high school student-athlete, to continue pursuing their passion for sports while studying for a degree. This way, they get to build two reliable careers for themselves. One in the sports industry and another in the business world so when they graduate college, they can have multiple options with guaranteed success.

US sports scholarships are offered by reputable universities like Stanford and UCLA. If you apply for admission into any of these colleges in the US with sports scholarships and have a good track record both academically and on the field, they will start to go after you by offering you attractive scholarship options. Among them would be a full-ride sports scholarship, which covers full tuition, accommodation, feeding, and expenses.

Receiving a sports scholarship in the US is an exciting journey and if you are a student-athlete, you should consider applying. This guide covers how to apply for sports scholarships in USA and other helpful tips that will make your application successful.

how to apply for sports scholarships in USA

How to Apply for Sports Scholarships in USA

US colleges award sports scholarships to students with excellent academic records and outstanding athletic performance or record. The scholarship may either be full-ride, full-tuition, or partly funded and may or may not be renewed each year. This is information you will get directly from the head coach of your host institution because it varies across institutions and sports.

You already know that before setting out to apply for sports scholarships in the US, you must already be participating in a particular sport and excel in it too. You cannot apply for a sports scholarship when you are not an athlete already, obviously doesn’t make any sense. How else would the scholarship committee judge or assess your athletic ability to consider you for a scholarship?

Now, let’s get into how to apply for sports scholarships in the USA:

1.     Apply for Admission to a Suitable College

Sports scholarships in the US are offered by colleges which means you have to be accepted into the college as a student-athlete to be considered for the scholarship, therefore, you have to apply for admission first to show your interest in becoming a student of that particular college. There are more than one thousand colleges and universities in the US offering sports scholarships, you have to take time and do your research on the one that is suitable for you.

Your research for a suitable school should be based on the competition at which the college competes, whether there are scholarships in the sports you play, does the college offers the sports you play, the worth of the scholarship, the track record of the college’s performance in that particular sport, and other how they treat student-athletes. An easy way to get this info is to speak with your current head coach and they will give you a list of suitable college options.

2.     Have an Excellent Academic Record

Sports scholarships in the US take the academic record of student-athletes very seriously and if you will be applying for a sports scholarship you must be in good academic standing, this is a major requirement. This means that you must have a good high school GPA and ace your SAT or ACT. An excellent academic record shows that you can easily cope with a college education while participating in sports.

Your academic record will be assessed by the scholarships committee or head coach through your high school transcript which you will submit during application for college admission.

3.     Have Outstanding Athletic Performance or Record

You are applying for a “sports” scholarship therefore having an outstanding athletic performance or record is mandatory. The scholarship donors or committee want to see your athletic performances. The competitions you participated in and the record of your sportsmanship. As a student-athlete, you should have a portfolio where you keep your athletic records and performances could be in pictures or videos or hand-written by a coach.

You will submit this portfolio as part of the requirements when applying for a sports scholarship.

4.     Prepare Application Materials

The following are documents/materials you should have at hand or start preparing to apply for a US sports scholarship:

  • CV or resume describing your career and achievements
  • Motivation letter
  • Confirmation of sports merit certificates, medals, etc.
  • Recommendations from your coaches, teachers, and other mentors
  • Cover letter.

After you have gathered all these documents, the next and final step would be to begin your application. It is recommended that you apply to more than one sports scholarship to increase your chances of being a recipient.

Athletic scholarships in America cut across the following sports:

  • Basketball
  • Hockey
  • Cross country
  • Swimming
  • Softball
  • Cricket
  • Volleyball
  • Soccer
  • Water polo
  • Tennis
  • Football
  • Baseball
  • Lacrosse
  • Rugby
  • Golf
  • Gymnastic
  • Diving
  • Rowing
  • Skiing and many more in male and female categories.

Pro tip: Start your application for a US sports scholarship early, best as a high school senior.

Best US Sports Scholarships

The majority of sports scholarships in the US are offered by thousands of colleges and universities under different divisions, below are some of the best.

1.     Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program

Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program is one of the best and most popular sports scholarship programs in the US. This program awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors who are student-athletes with outstanding academic performance and strong leadership skills in sports, at their respective schools, and within their communities. Applicants are assessed based on their athletic ability, diverse background, and confidence and enthusiasm about being a leader.

You must also have a 3.0 GPA, not working for Foot Locker, and be a citizen or permanent resident of the US. Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Program selects 20 student-athletes who meet the above requirements and awards them with a $20,000 college scholarship. Applicants are judged based on their passion and commitment to empowering their community, a material of Foot Locker Scholar Athletes, comes from diverse background, and embody good sportsmanship.

Scholarship Link

2.     The UConn Huskies Women’s Basketball Scholarship

The University of Connecticut basketball team known as the UConn Huskies is undoubtedly the most successful college women’s basketball team in the United States. They have won 11 NCAA Division 1 National Championships. Also, they won four of these championships four consecutive times, i.e. from 2013 to 2016.

They have even gone further to winning more than 50 conference regular season and tournament championships. These are just a few accomplishments on their table, which makes Student-athletes who successfully join their team very privileged. Regarding their women’s basketball scholarships, since they are an NCAA D1 team, they provide 15 full-ride scholarships to 15 of their athletes. This is one of the best sports scholarships you can find in the US.

3.     Stanford University Sports Scholarship

Stanford University has a global reputation as one of the top best universities in the world but a lot of people think it is just academically. Stanford also ranks in collegiate sports and its team is one of the best in the US. They have won over 130 NCAA team national championships in 20 different sports, the most of any Division I school in the NCAA.

Getting into Stanford is highly competitive to begin with as you need at least a GPA of 3.5 and even higher to qualify for the varsity team. There are numerous sports scholarships offered at Stanford including full-ride sports scholarships. The women’s basketball team, Cardinal, stands out as they have won three national championships and are the best in the US.

4.     The University of Michigan Athletic Scholarships

The University of Michigan offers a sports program that happens to be among the best in the US and offer scholarships to student-athletes across different sport categories. You will be properly assessed by the coaches at U of M and go through other processes to qualify for the scholarship.

The athletic scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, athletic performance and potential, and talents. The application requirements for the athletic scholarship at U-M include high school GPA, ACT or SAT scores, and registration in the NCAA Eligibility Center. You must be applying to the University of Michigan and have an intent to join one of the teams to apply for the athletic scholarship.

You may want to consider the basketball program as the University of Michigan basketball team is one of the best in the U.S. for winning an NCAA championship, two NIT titles, 14 Big Ten Conference, and two Big 10 Tournament. It is a Division 1 school and, therefore, provides an annual 13 full-ride scholarship to 13 student-athletes across various sports. You already know that this college would be a competitive one to get into and to win one of the full-ride sports scholarships.

5.     Georgia Institute of Technology Men’s Basketball Scholarship

Georgia Tech, as it is commonly referred to, is one of the best colleges in the US and has global recognition for its achievement and innovation in technology and sciences. The institution has a men’s basketball team called The Yellow Jacket, which has made several appearances in NCAA tournaments, Conference Tournaments, and Conference regular-season championships.

Under the NCAA rules, Georgia Tech offers full-ride basketball scholarships to student-athletes with exceptional high school academic and athletic performances, personality, fit with the team and other tough requirements. New students who receive this scholarship will have the entire tuition of their 4-year undergraduate degree program paid for whilst they play basketball. There are also other scholarships in other sports but basketball stands out and is the best in the school.

6.     The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Athletics Financial Aid

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill varsity team, the Tar Heels, is the dream school of high school athletes in the US. The varsity team is reputable in the world of collegiate sports as they have won more than 6 NCAA Tournament Championships and multiple ACC conference tournaments and regular-season championships. Its alumni include Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Vince Carter, Bob McAdoo, and some of ESPN’s top players of all time.

The institution awards athletic scholarships to its most deserving student-athletes. It is a full-ride scholarship that covers tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses. If you receive this scholarship, you no longer have to worry about the cost of financing your education. You will be completely taken care of while you participate in any sport whilst studying for a world-class bachelor’s degree.

7.     UCLA Athletic Scholarships

The athletic scholarships offered by UCLA are one of the best in the US. Every year, the institution awards the equivalent of approximately 285 full athletic scholarships to outstanding student-athletes. The scholarship cuts across the various sports categories at the university and since it is so much there is a high chance that you will be a recipient as well.

The scholarship covers tuition, mandatory fees, and room and boarding.

These are some of the best US sports scholarships, As I mentioned earlier, there are over a thousand colleges and universities in the US offering sports scholarships but if you are looking for the best, that is, the ones that offer full-ride then you should look under Division one (DI) schools. However, they are not easy to get into but they offer the most opportunity both in sports and academics.


What is the easiest sport to get a scholarship in the US?

The easiest sports to get a scholarship in the US are lacrosse, ice hockey, and baseball for men and women programs.

Which sports offer the most scholarships in the US?

Football, soccer, hockey, and baseball are sports with the most scholarships in the US.

Can international students get sports scholarships in the USA?

Yes, international students can get sports scholarships in the US. The universities in the USA that offer sports scholarships for international students have a unique set of requirements for those who wish to apply.