Do D3 Colleges Give Athletic Scholarships

Do D3 Colleges Give Athletic Scholarships

Some of the most prevalent and widely sought-after scholarships offered by universities are athletic scholarships. Athletic scholarships allow students to attend universities on the merit of their sport or athleticism.

Many high school athletes are willing to go to great lengths to earn an athletic scholarship, from training year-round and ensuring they are in top health for their sport to talking to multiple schools to assess recruitment opportunities.

Do D3 Colleges Give Athletic Scholarships

Different college divisions have different rules around athletic scholarships. While numerous Division I and Division II college-bound players can receive athletic scholarships from the same program, D3 colleges handle financial aid for student-athletes a little differently.

If you’re considering attending a Division III school and are curious about participating in an intercollegiate athletics program, read on to find out what financial support is available.


So, can D3 give athletic scholarships? The short answer is no—not exactly.

The goal for many Division III schools is to offer their students a well-rounded, comprehensive college experience—one that provides an even balance between academics and athletics without focusing solely on athletics.

Division I sports can often feel like a full-time college career, leaving little time to get involved in other student organizations or pursue additional academic projects and research.

As such, NCAA Division III institutions do not offer full or partial athletic scholarships to their student-athletes.

But a D3 school may appeal if you’re looking for a competitive level of play but still want to have time for studying abroad, participating in on-campus organizations, and taking on extra opportunities to excel in the classroom.

To participate in Division III sports, student-athletes are subject to the same admission requirements as non-athletes, including:

  • Grade-point average (GPA) – Schools today take a more holistic approach to reviewing applicant qualifications, but GPA will still be considered. It’s also important to note that different schools set different expectations for academic sports eligibility. Division III schools may require a minimum GPA for athletes to maintain their spot on the team.
  • Extracurricular activities – Again, each school has its process of filtering through applicants. However, the admissions committee at a Division III institution will often favour students involved in many different extracurricular activities due to their standards of providing a holistic education.
  • Admissions essays – The admissions essay is a chance for students to highlight their strengths and let their personalities shine and it’s a must for Division III college hopefuls. The essay allows you to impress admissions committees and put yourself in the running for a competitive, merit-based scholarship.


While Division III schools are not able to offer full or partial athletic scholarships, it’s important to note that they can provide financial aid to their student-athletes in other ways.

In fact, 75% of Division III athletes receive some financial aid—which can be need-based or merit-based. So, while full athletic scholarships are not available, most Division III schools do help their students pay for college.

Student-athletes searching for options for financial support are recommended to fill out the FAFSA application to determine what kind of need-based scholarships they may be eligible for.

Focus on schools with larger endowments

Strictly from a financially savvy point of view, it makes sense for student-athletes to target schools that have more money to spend. The more financial resources available to institutions, the more aid they can give prospective students. So, who’s sitting on the highest mountain of money? Private universities make up a majority of the institutions with endowments of more than a billion dollars. For freshmen at Trinity College, for example, an average of $58,374 is awarded in merit-based aid each year.

Get involved in community outreach

Merit-based scholarships are awarded for many reasons, but some may prioritize applicants who have shown some degree of dedication to their local communities. Getting involved in organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, The Humane Society, or Best Buddies are just a few ways young adults can participate meaningfully in their area while also boosting their chances of being considered for merit-based aid.

Demonstrate leadership

Experience in leadership roles also goes a long way when it comes to being considered as a recipient of merit-based scholarships. Student-athletes who have led their teams as captains could earn a few points in their favor, but let’s not forget about the multitude of opportunities to pursue leadership positions outside of the realm of athletics. Serving as president of a student council, debate team or theatre group is also a viable way of demonstrating excellence and diversifying a resume.

As you can see, there are many ways for student-athletes to receive the financial support they need from a D3 school without having to commit all of their time to athletics.

For students who are reluctant to join an athletic program at a D1 school but still would like a chance to earn a scholarship for their athletic prowess, consider pursuing a spot on a Division II school team. Let’s go over the financial aid options for Division II athletes next.


You may already know a bit about the rigorous recruiting process involved in Division I and Division II athletics, but did you know that a Division III college or schools also have a recruiting process of their own?

When it comes to searching for and communicating with prospective athletes, the recruitment rules in place for Division III are designed to be more flexible than those imposed on Division I and Division II programs.

Starting in January of their junior year of high school, athletes may be contacted by a Division III school for an official visit, including a tour of the athletic complex, a personal invitation to a game or even a weekend spent with members of the current team.

A Division III college can also reach out to high school players at any time with brochures, letters of interest, emails, or phone calls.

According to a 2013 survey conducted by the NCAA, 71% of Division III athletes made their college choice based on the recruitment process. This number is even higher for certain college sports, including:

  • Men’s baseball (76%)
  • Women’s basketball (78%)
  • Men’s lacrosse (83%)
  • Women’s ice hockey (85%)
  • Football (86%)
  • Men’s ice hockey (88%)

Although the athletic recruitment process may be more stringent for Division I and Division II schools, recruiting remains a primary strategy for garnering new talent across all NCAA athletic programs.


If you’re interested in playing college sports while continuing to prioritize your education and free time, a Division III school may be a perfect option. Division III athletic programs—like the one at North Central College—are an excellent path for talented athletes who want a more well-rounded college experience.

North Central College offers several merit-based scholarships, as well as need-based financial aid depending on certain income requirements. The College proudly competes in 27 Division III sports, including football, cross country, track and field, soccer, baseball, basketball and many more. NCC student-athletes have won 40 team national championships, as well as 142 individual and relay national championships, making NCC’s D3 athletic program one of the most successful in the country.

Scholarships for D3 Sports

Unlike Division I and II schools, Division III schools do not offer scholarships, but approximately 75% of schools help meet students’ financial needs by providing support and Accessible financial aid.

There are several paths to follow:

  • Merit-based: Merit-based scholarships recognize outstanding academic achievement, leadership qualities or exceptional talent. These scholarships can help offset tuition costs and provide financial aid to student-athletes.
  • Need-based financial aid: D3 schools offer need-based financial aid programs to support athletes with demonstrated financial need. These programs take into account factors such as family income, assets and other financial obligations to help determine the level of support provided to each athlete.
  • Academic Scholarships: Many D3 schools offer academic scholarships based on the student-athlete’s academic performance and are awarded to athletes who excel academically while contributing to the program.
  • Grants and work-study programs: Some schools may offer grants and work-study programs to provide additional financial support, which are often awarded for student-athletes to contribute to the school community.
  • External Scholarships: Athletes from D3 schools may also apply for external scholarships from organizations, foundations or community groups.

How to Get Hired at a D3 School

Enrolling in an athletic program that values ​​academics as much as athletics requires a little more strategic planning than the rest. Here are some key ways athletes can target Division 3 from day one:

  • Target schools and research: Identify D3 schools that fit your goals in fitness and sports and discover their sports programs, cultural teams, coaching staff, and their recent successes in finding the right person. Identify your best schools early and plan performances and practices based on school standards.
  • Highlight your academic achievements: Make academics a priority from the start and showcase your academic achievements, GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities to stand out as a candidate.
  • Get a great highlight reel: Organize your highlight reel to include stats, awards, and game footage. Share this profile with coaches, attend showcases, and compete in tournaments where you can meet coaches and recruiters face-to-face.
  • Contact Coaches: Connect and build relationships with coaches at your target schools.
    Show your interest in their program early and attend camps or clinics where you can stand out.
  • Attend recruiting events: Attend recruiting events at your target D3 schools, which will allow you to demonstrate your skills to college coaches and learn more about their programs.
  • Connect with current athletes: Contact current D3 athletes to get more information about their experience and ask for advice about the recruiting process so you can make an informed decision about choosing the right team.
  • Maintain contact: Stay in regular contact with your coach, keeping them informed of your progress, achievements, and progress in sport. Attend campus tours or virtual meetings to make personal connections and better understand school and team culture.


While it may be disappointing for some athletes, the lack of athletic scholarships at Division III schools is not an indication of their value or abilities. Many successful and talented athletes choose to attend DIII schools for the well-rounded education and opportunities they provide.

The emphasis on academics and character development can also lead to long-term success both on and off the field. Ultimately, attending a D3 school allows students to pursue their passion for sports while also receiving a top-quality education that will benefit them in all aspects of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do D3 colleges offer athletic scholarships?

No, NCAA Division III colleges cannot offer athletic scholarships based on athletic ability. This means student-athletes cannot receive financial aid solely for playing sports. However, D3 schools can still offer generous financial aid packages based on academic merit, financial need, or a combination of both. This means talented athletes with strong academics can still get significant financial support to attend a D3 school.

What kind of financial aid can D3 athletes get?

While D3 schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, they still have several avenues to help student-athletes financially:

  • Need-based aid: Many D3 schools offer grants and scholarships based on demonstrated financial need, which can cover a significant portion of tuition and fees.
  • Merit-based aid: D3 schools also offer scholarships and grants based on academic achievement, talent, or leadership qualities. Athletes with strong academics or other skills may be eligible for these awards.
  • Other aid: Some D3 schools offer work-study programs, loans, and other forms of financial aid to help students cover their college costs.

Why do D3 colleges not offer athletic scholarships?

D3 colleges prioritize a balanced college experience where academics and athletics are equally important.

They want their athletes to be well-rounded individuals who excel both on the field and in the classroom. Additionally, D3 schools often compete with other small colleges in their region, and offering athletic scholarships could create an unfair advantage.

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