Which Colleges Give the Best Soccer Scholarships?

Soccer players stretching
Less than 8 percent of high school players find a spot on a college soccer team. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A scholarship is a type of full or partial financial aid awarded to a student who exhibits outstanding performance in a specific academic field or sport. Athletic scholarships are regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The number of soccer awards available is based on whether the school is Division I or II. The National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association, which regulates awards from junior colleges, allows 36 soccer scholarships per school.

Top-Ranked Soccer Colleges

Soccer Times released a list of the top 25 Division I men’s soccer teams, based on a college coaches poll. The top-ranking school is Akron, followed by Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan and Maryland.

Equivalency Sport

Soccer scholarships have been designated by the American sports scholarship governing body, the NCAA, as an equivalency sport, which means that colleges can offer partial financial aid to more students. According to the NCAA, a Division I school can offer 12 women’s soccer scholarships and 9.9 men’s scholarships. A Division II school can offer 9.9 women’s soccer scholarships and nine men’s scholarships. If you’re interested in winning a soccer scholarship, you need to attract the attention of NCAA coaches.

Statistics

If you are banking on a soccer scholarship, a 2010 article in "U.S. News & World Report" suggests being realistic. Division I and II schools offer about 138,000 athletic scholarships. Each year, roughly 433 soccer scholarships are available to boys and 806 for girls. According to a 2008 article published by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, or NCSAA, there were 4,326 spots on college soccer teams for boys and 4,416 spots for girls. Fewer than 8 percent of graduating seniors would have an opportunity to play for a college team. A soccer scholarship is not a full ride. In fact, one scholarship can be divided among three or more players. Further, scholarships are guaranteed for only one year.

Alternatives

Most students awarded soccer scholarships are recruited by an NSCAA coach, according to Athletic Scholarships. Unless you’re in the top 3 percent in the nation, it’s up to you to campaign for a spot on a Division I or Division II team. There are more than 350 NCAA men’s soccer coaches and over 480 women’s soccer coaches. One way to stand out from your competition is to attend college soccer summer camp. "U.S. News & World report" suggests trying out for a merit award from a smaller private college, which can reduce your tuition by more than 50 percent in some cases. The National Junior College Athletic Association lists hundreds of small schools with respectable soccer programs.

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