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The huddle

October 24, 2016

Scholarships: Headcount Sports vs. Equivalency Sports

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In high school when the topic of athletic scholarships is mentioned, the first thing that pops into people’s minds is a “full ride.” It’s the dream of that shiny national letter of intent which states that school, books as well as room and board are all going to be paid for. Unfortunately, this is a rare occurrence. Did you know that each University offers approximately 300 scholarships to each gender? This would be based on a University that offers every NCAA sport, with 85 going strictly to football, this only leaves 215 left for other male athletes.

It is important to know the difference between Headcount sports vs. Equivalency sports. Headcount sports offer full scholarships while equivalency sports are those that are most likely to offer a partial scholarship. At the Division 1 level, the headcount sports include football (FBS only), basketball (men’s and women’s), women’s tennis, women’s gymnastics and women’s volleyball. That being said, the remainder of sports are an equivalency. It is up to the coach to decide on how he or she wants to split up the remainder of the scholarships. Some examples of scholarship limits include Division 1 men’s lacrosse with 12.6 scholarships and softball with 12 scholarships.

It is a breath of fresh air to know that you are on a headcount team. However, you have to remember that your scholarship is renewed yearly, meaning it’s never guaranteed for the next school year. The competition for these scholarships is very high and very few student-athletes can earn them. Some reasons why you could lose the scholarship would be an injury, academic ineligibility or a coaching change. Just in case your sport does not work out for you, it is imperative to choose a school that you would be able to afford and one that you would be happy at if you were to lose the scholarship.

The student-athletes who are on equivalency sports might rely on academic and school scholarships to fill in the expense gap. These students have to be careful because there are scholarships and financial aid forms that should not be pursued. The two basic scholarship limits include a limit on “counters” and a limit on equivalencies. The limitations on equivalencies are based on the number of athletic scholarships awarded while the “counter” rules are a little more complicated. NCAA considers any student-athlete that receives any amount of financial aid a “counter”. Once being a “counter” potentially all financial aid will count toward athletic financial aid unless specifically exempt. The way to play it safe is to contact the athletic department and the financial aid office.

High school athletes looking to play at the college level on scholarship should understand whether or not their sport is a headcount or equivalency sport. They should familiarize themselves with the financial aid and school scholarship limitations. When in doubt be sure to contact the athletic or financial aid departments for any questions or concerns.

Works Cited

Frank, Written by David. “Head Count Sports vs. Equivalency Sports: Which One Do You Play? “Head Count Sports vs. Equivalency Sports: Which One Do You Play? Nap., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
@USATODAYhss. “Recruiting Column: Maximizing Your Scholarship Dollars.” USA Today High School Sports. N.p., 12 Oct. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016

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