If you’re an aspiring college athlete looking for a scholarship, it is not only important to know how to get recruited and the best ways to stand out, but also which athletic association is best for you. By learning the difference between the NCAA and the NAIA, you will gain insight into how many scholarships are available, where scholarships come from and the restrictions regarding scholarships in each association. This information is valuable to the potential scholarship athlete.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), are two separate governing bodies of college athletics. The NCAA is the governing body for around 1200 schools. It consists of three divisions (Division I, II, and III) and oversees 23 sports. Divisions I and II both offer athletic scholarships, with over 126,000 student-athletes receiving partial or full athletic scholarships. However, Division III student-athletes can only receive academic or non-athletic scholarships – no athletic scholarships are allowed. Each year, the NCAA hands out about $1 billion in athletic scholarships, with the rest coming from the individual school.
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Conversely, the NAIA consists of 300 schools and 13 sports. The NAIA is a smaller association than the NCAA, with just over 60,000 students. It includes two divisions (Division I and II) and Division I in the NAIA is comparable to Division II in the NCAA. Over 90% of schools in the NAIA offer scholarships, and NAIA athletes receive an average of $7,000 of financial aid. However, it is impossible to say how many athletes receive scholarships because the NAIA does not have a central database like the NCAA.
The amount and type of scholarship you receive will depend on, among other things, which association your school is affiliated with and which division within that association your school plays in. Generally speaking, eligibility requirements and scholarship rules for the NCAA are stricter than those of the NAIA. For athletes pursuing a college scholarship, being familiar with these requirements is very important.
When looking for an athletic scholarship, remember that there are options in both the NCAA and NAIA. Being educated and knowledgeable on these two associations will help you in your search to find the best college for you.
Further information on NCAA and NAIA can be found at: