Volleyball Scholarships: Getting a Scholarship to Play College Volleyball

Posted By idcamp5_wp / February 26, 2018 / Uncategorized / Comments are disabled

Playing volleyball for a college university is a dream come true for many athletes like yourself. After all of your hard work to be among the very best at your high school, you might be thinking that you’re ready to play for some of the best Division I schools around. But before you can live the dream, there’s a lot that you need to know. This guide will help you figure out everything you need to know so you can be the college volleyball superstar you deserve to be.

NCAA, NJCAA, and NAIA Divisions

When it comes to volleyball scholarship there are four to consider. Three of these, Divisions I, II, and III belong to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association (NJCAA). These programs cover most colleges in the country with a volleyball program including community colleges near you. The fourth scholarship program that you can consider belongs to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). These scholarships are offered in fewer campuses across the country, but are a useful option for students who want to play volleyball and further their education past high school.

NCAA and NJCAA scholarships cover the wider range of university programs in the country and each division has less strict requirements as you move from Division I to III. As you can guess, as the requirements grow less strict, the reward amounts are also decreased, but the number of schools offering these programs increase proportionally.

The main difference between the two is that NJCAA scholarships are only offered at community colleges and are only for one or two years of education. Additionally, because NJCAA scholarships last for less time and offer less money, the schools that offer them may not meet the same rigorous requirements that their NCAA counterparts do.  So if you want to do two years with an NJCAA scholarship, you should contact a university counselor before you transfer to a major university to make sure that you meet the requirements for their counterpart to your division.

There are no division separations for NAIA scholarships due to the relatively small amount of campuses that offer these programs. But due to the smaller reward amounts, these programs are also far more available to students with each school offering more scholarships to their students. When you compare the NAIA scholarships to their NCAA counterparts, you’ll see that it’s about equivalent to a Division II program in most cases.

One thing you should know is that Division III programs do not offer athletic scholarships. They do have sports programs, but you will not be given awards based on your participation in the sport, so that is something to consider.


Let’s talk about Volleyball Scholarships

Just like it sounds, volleyball scholarships are programs offered by universities all across the world that will pay for your education as long as you play for a collegiate team. Between NCAA, NAIA, and University scholarships, there’s more than a billion dollars of financial aid being offered to Volleyball players every year.

Some students report being awarded an average of $7,000 for NAIA scholarships up to $31,000 for NCAA Division 1 teams to help them pay for tuition, supplies, and dorm fees. Parents and students alike appreciate the huge cost break that this represents, because this limits how much you end up paying after graduation in student loans.

As you can guess, these scholarships are just as much about keeping your grades up and being a great team player as they are about playing a good game of Volleyball. But we’ll get into all that later.

But you might be asking why would you bother with applying for anything but a Division I NCAA Scholarship program, since it offers the most money, with some schools even offering full-ride scholarships to athletes. You have to keep in mind that the decision isn’t yours as it’s the schools that make the offers and there are only so many scholarships to go around.

The only way that they’ll make the offer is if you are scouted and meet their requirements.


But what are those requirements?

When coaches scout you out to determine if they want to recommend awarding you a volleyball scholarship, they are looking for players who meet certain athletic and scholastic requirements.

The athletic requirements are obvious, if you play well and if you’re tall and strong enough, then you’re more likely to make the cut. You might be wondering why a school cares that you have great grades if they want you to play volleyball for them? You might not know, but sports scholarships require that you be an amateur athlete. This means that you are a student first and that sports aren’t how you make your money. For that reason, your grades really do matter and you might not even be considered for scholarships if you don’t meet the grade.

This doesn’t seem a lot, but keep in mind that every school that offers a scholarship only offers so many, so even with NJCAA scholarships, you are in hot competition with your peers for the same awards and meeting the minimum only puts you in the race, but it doesn’t make you stand out.

So let’s look at the exact minimums you need.


NCAA Division I Requirements

You must complete 16 core courses in high school to include:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
  • Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it)
  • One additional year of English, Math, or Natural/Physical science
  • Two years of social science
  • Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy

You have to earn at least a 2.3 GPA in your core courses.

You must earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division I sliding scale. This means that as your GPA rises, you won’t need as high a test score or that if you have a lower GPA then you’ll need a higher test score.

If a coach has scouted you and you are not able to make these requirements, then you will not be able to compete in your first year. But many schools offer redshirt scholarships, where you’ll be able to practice and receive an athletic scholarship for the entire year.

To be awarded a redshirt scholarship you will need to do everything above, except that you can have a GPA between 2.0 and 2.29. If you have anything below a 2.0 average, then this will not be an option for you.


NCAA Division II Requirements

Division II requirements are set to change after August 1, 2018. So we’re going to list both requirements. Remember, this depends on when enroll. You should know that the main difference is in the minimum GPA which rises to 2.2 and the fact that instead of a set score requirement for the SAT or ACT, your required score depends on how high or low your GPA is, just like in Division I.

Before August 1st 2018, enrolling students must do the following.

You must complete 16 core courses in high school to include:

  • Three years of English
  • Two years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
  • Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it)
  • Three additional years of English, Math, or Natural/Physical science
  • Two years of social science
  • Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy

You must also earn at least a 2.0 GPA in your core courses.

You must earn an SAT combined score of 820 or an ACT sum score of 68. Remember, if you took the SAT on or after March 2016 you need to compare your score on the College Board concordance table. The 820 score is after the concordance table is applied.

After August 1st 2018, enrolling students must do the following.

You must complete 16 core courses in high school to include:

  • Three years of English
  • Two years of math (Algebra 1 or higher)
  • Two years of natural/physical science (including one year of lab science if your high school offers it)
  • Three additional years of English, Math, or Natural/Physical science
  • Two years of social science
  • Four additional years of English, math, natural/physical science, social science, foreign language, comparative religion or philosophy

You must also earn at least a 2.2 GPA in your core courses.

Earn an SAT combined score or ACT sum score matching your core-course GPA on the Division II sliding scale, which balances your test score and core-course GPA. If you have a low test score, you need a higher core-course GPA to be eligible. If you have a low core-course GPA, you need a higher test score to be eligible.


NJCAA Division I and II Requirements

In all cases, NJCAA schools have similar requirements for first year students.

You must have not had any previous terms of full-time college enrollment.

Students must have completed a high school program or gained equivalency through an approved General Education Diploma (GED) Program. In the case of home schooled students, they will need to provide a home school transcript. Additionally, many NJCAA schools recommend that you maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA to be eligible for the initial award.

One thing to know is that NJCAA schools only offer up to two years of scholarship. After that, if you are pursuing further studies you will have to transfer to an NCAA or NAIA school. But if you choose this option, be certain that you contact the school staff and speak with someone in admissions or adhere to the guides above for those schools.

What’s interesting about NJCAA scholarships is that the requirements guide says that Division doesn’t change the requirements for scholarship award.  It instead changes how much can be given to you.

Division I schools can offer the following

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Room and Board
  • Course Related Books
  • Up to $250 in supplies required by the institute catalog or course syllabus
  • Transportation costs one time per academic year to and from campus by direct route

Division II schools can only offer the following

  • Tuition and Fees
  • Course Related Books
  • Up to $250 in supplies required by the institute catalog or course syllabus


NAIA Requirements

If you want to enter a university with a NAIA volleyball scholarship straight out of high school you’ll need to have graduated from an accredited high school or be accepted as a student in good standing. This acceptance varies from institute to institute, so be sure you contact the schools you’re interested in to see what that means.

But you’ll also need to meet two of the following three requirements at a minimum. These requirements also count for international students.

  • Achieve a combined score of 860 on the SAT or an 18 on the ACT
  • Achieve a minimum GPA of 2.0
  • Graduate in the top half of your high school class.

For GED students, you’ll only need to gain the test scores above as there are no GPA or class rank requirements. Home schooled students have it slightly tougher as they’ll need the following.

  • Achieve a combined score of 950 on the SAT or a 20 on the ACT

But one thing you should know is that NAIA scholarships rarely offer full rides to athletes, with partial scholarships being more often. You’ll also need to be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours because NAIA schools have the same requirements as other schools that athletes must be amateurs rather than full-time athletes to be eligible.


How many institutions offer volleyball scholarships?

Earlier we mentioned that there’s only so many scholarships to go around. That’s because every division can only give out so many scholarships, and that number is divided between the schools within each division. One thing to know is that volleyball scholarships favor women’s leagues as we’ll see in a moment, but it’s not common for men’s leagues to only have 10% of the amount of scholarship funding as men’s leagues.

But let’s talk numbers with a handy breakdown.

For NCAA Division I schools, there are 247 schools sponsoring women’s volleyball including big names like Nebraska or Penn State. But only 23 schools at this level sponsor men’s volleyball, like UCLA or Pepperdine. Women’s programs typically award 12 scholarships a year that are full ride scholarships, while men’s programs offer 4.5 scholarships which is divided among the entire roster.

Compare this to the NCJAA schools, where Division I offers about 103 women’s programs, but, at the time of writing, no men’s programs. Each NJCAA Division I school offers 14 scholarships a year which, as discussed above, can cover  everything from tuition and fees, to room and board and books.

There are 310 women’s programs at the NCAA Division II level and only 12 men’s programs at this level. Like all NCAA sports at the Division II level, the awards are typically divided up among the roster making partial rides common and full rides rare.

There are about 120 schools with women’s programs in the Division II level. Each school only offers up to 14 scholarships that include almost everything that a D1 school does, except that room and board is not covered.

Finally, there are about 421 women’s programs at the NCAA Division III level and 48 men’s teams. At this level though there are no athletic scholarships available. But players can earn academic scholarships to help with the costs of instruction.

At the NJCAA level, there are 76 women’s programs offered. But just like the NCAA, these schools do not offer athletic scholarships.

Finally we have the NAIA schools. There are about 251 women’s programs in NAIA, and every few years some of these schools grow enough that they enter the NCAA Division II level. At the time of writing, there are no men’s volleyball programs within the NAIA. Each school awards up to 8 scholarships and these scholarships are typically partial rides. Though students with better grades can receive aid without it counting towards the team limits.


But which schools offer which awards?

As you can guess, there are a lot of universities, over 1000 in fact, that offer volleyball programs and scholarships. The list can even change as schools grow in size, especially with the higher rated NAIA programs. So contacting the financial aid counselors at the university’s you’re interested in to check which division they belong to is always a great idea. But a great way to start is by consulting online lists such as the one at this one from 2017.


What if I won’t get an athletic scholarship?

That’s perfectly fine. Because there are players who join teams where they know that they won’t be offered an athletic scholarship. This means that, even if the coaches have scouted them and want them to play, for whatever reason any financial aid the student received is non-athletic.

These students are what is known as “Traditional Walk-on” because they just ‘walked-in’ and joined the team. This is common in Division III NCAA or NCJAA schools because there are no athletic scholarships to be had, but it can happen at the other levels as well.

Some of you might be wondering why would you ever play for a team if you aren’t getting any money for it, which is a fair thing to say. But consider what happens if you want to go professional after college and have no volleyball experience?

You won’t be scouted by any professional teams and the chances of you being selected are incredibly low if not non-existent.

For some players, the exposure and practice that you can get by being part of a team far outweighs the lack of funding that athletic scholarship students can get. But there’s one thing to consider. Walk-on scholarships are a thing.

What this means is that you give a verbal confirmation to the coach that you will play part of your student career on a non-athletic scholarship and that within 1 to 2 years, you’ll earn an athletic scholarship.

Whether you are a traditional walk-on athlete or a walk-on scholarship candidate, you will still be able to earn non-athletic scholarships. But as these players were not recruited through the standard channels of any of the other athletic scholarships, coaches will not hold your hand. You’ll be responsible for your own promotion and contacts with teams and, the sad reality is, that you will not be a priority for your school program.

This means that while you’ll have access to the same apparel as other students, as the university has not invested their limited athletic money towards you, then you may find yourself in situations where your training is not focused on and you may not see as much time on court. This is especially true for walk-on players at the Division I level.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the exciting part.


Five Tips to win a Volleyball Scholarship

  • Set up your best shots 

Making a list of the schools that you want to compete in is the first thing you should do. You should do what you can to figure out what scholarships they offer, what kind of players do they need, and a list of the coaches and their contact information. Knowing these details will tell the coaches that you are serious about joining their program and will put you above someone who put their name on a list. You’ll also know who to reach out to first and what to tell them, so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.

At this step, you should also know what division your chosen schools belong to, so that if you need other financial aid, you can start searching for other programs to give you a hand. If possible, see if you can arrange a visit to the school so you can get an idea if it is the right place for you.


  • Get your name and face out there

But once you figure out who to talk to, you gotta make sure they remember you. The first step to doing this is to prepare a resume.

We know it sounds odd, but when coaches see that you have prepared a resume talking about your physical stats, your skills, and your academic and athletic background, they’ll see you as more professional than someone who just applies without anything to back it up. Just make sure that anything you write on your resume is backed up with signed letters from your coaches, doctors, or any one else who knows. Because if you say you’re 5’8’’ but the coach finds out you’re much shorter or taller than that, then that can negatively impact your chances of joining the team.

Creating a highlights video that shows off your skills is also super important in making sure that coaches remember you. But don’t just take a cell phone video and expect that to be enough. We advise that you buy, borrow, or rent a high quality video camera and use editing to make sure that not only are the best clips up front and used, but also that it’s clear which player is you. Also, make sure that your clips aren’t just from practice sessions, because coaches want to see how you handle yourself in an actual game.

  • Reach out and speak up

So now that you know who you want to contact and you have a video to share, it’s time to reach out. You should start by emailing the coaches for the schools your interested in, and you’ll want to send them your highlight reel and a copy of your athletic resume. Then the hard part is waiting until they get back to you, giving them a call to verbally express interest only if you haven’t heard from them within two weeks.

Once you establish contact, make sure that you respond to every email that the coach sends and never ignore any emails or calls that you might receive. Because until you are awarded a scholarship, you never know how far along in the process you are and missed calls can make coaches feel as if you don’t care, which will leave them to turn you over for other applicants. Also, be sure that you always leave your contact information in any email or phone call you do make, because every bit of time you save coaches increases the chance that they keep in contact with you.

Finally, be sure to ask them about their last season, the institution, and the team. Because these questions show that you are interested in the campus and team rather than just the scholarship, which is the first step in showing that you’re a team player.

  • Go to a Showcase Camp

But playing well at the high school level doesn’t come close to the challenge and training that’s expected at the collegiate level. But that’s ok, because there are showcase camps available across the country where you can make real connections with coaches and players while stepping up your A game. Many of these camps offer summer programs, so you won’t even have to interrupt your schooling to participate.

The best part of these camps is that they host events that feature multiple universities at a time, which means that you are going to be seen by coaches and recruiters from across the country, which saves you a lot of time in finding teams to contact. This is also a great way to establish that you are just as good as you look in your highlight reel, which sets you up for success in the scholarship hunt.

  • Keep your Grades Up

Earlier we mentioned that universities can only award scholarships to amateur athletes. This means that you have to be a student first, so earning and maintaining a strong GPA is crucial to your success. Don’t forget also that NCAA scholarships lighten the ACT or SAT score requirements as your GPA rises, so by going above the minimum GPA requirement, you make things easier for you.

If you have trouble with your classes, make sure that you get in the habit of seeking tutoring opportunities. Because at the university level there are tutors available in every subject and the practice you get in working with a tutor will pay big dividends once you hit the rigorous college level work.


This sounds difficult. Can I really do it?

Of course you can!

Even if you have trouble with writing a resume, or finding clubs and camps in your area, or finding effective training methods, there are programs available that make your job in finding scholarships and volleyball programs way easier.

Using a website like PrepHero or PrepVolleyball, which offers students like you help with creating resumes that are tailor made for what coaches are looking for. These websites also offer valuable services like placing you on recruiting lists or giving you the contact information for coaches who are interested in finding players like you for their teams.

These websites make the legwork and recruiting far easier for you and give you a leg up on gaining exposure by helping you with tips on finding and joining showcase camps, handling the difficulties of playing collegiate volleyball, and hundreds of other topics.

Each of these websites provide tools and direct links to coaches and teams and will give you a better insight into the world of college volleyball. Students who reach out to coaches through these programs as well as their own calls and emails, are at least 3 times more likely to get contacted back.



Spiking it all home

It’s the dream for many volleyball athletes to be able to play for the bigger college teams and earning an athletic scholarship to play volleyball is the best way to do it. But earning these athletic scholarships can be tough.

But by knowing what to expect, preparing a resume and highlight video, joining a showcase camp, and using all the tools available to you will make your search far easier. No matter how tough it might seem, there are scholarships out there and they are waiting for you.

Following this guide is the best way to get started. So what are you waiting for?

We set it up so you can spike it!

Volleyball Scholarships: Getting a Scholarship to Play College Volleyball
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Volleyball Scholarships: Getting a Scholarship to Play College Volleyball
Volleyball scholarships are offered by universities all across the US that will pay for your education as long as you play for a collegiate team. Between NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA scholarships, there’s more than a billion dollars of financial aid being offered to volleyball players every year.
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Volleyball Showcase Camps
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