College football scholarships | D1 football scholarships (2024)

College football scholarships | D1 football scholarships (1)

For most athletes going through the football recruiting process, snagging a football scholarship to a great school is the ultimate goal. Here’s some good news: there are approximately 896 football programs across the U.S., and the majority of them offer football scholarships to talented student-athletes. Here, we explain the football scholarship requirements and answer families’ most-asked questions about getting college football scholarships.

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How many scholarships are given each year?

Football scholarships requirements

How many scholarships do D1 teams get?

How many scholarships do D2 teams get?

NCAA football scholarships vs. NAIA football scholarships

How to get a football scholarship

Do walk-ons get a scholarship?

Difference between verbal offer and official offer

A committable offer vs. a non-committable offer

Offers through social media

“Buyer’s remorse” and decommitments

How many scholarships are given each year for football?

It’s impossible to know how many football scholarships are awarded each year, as not every program is fully funded and able to give out the maximum number of scholarships. However, there are certain pieces of information we do know, listed in the table below.

Division LevelNumber of TeamsTotal Athletes in DivisionAverage Team SizeScholarships Limit Per TeamScholarship Limit Type
D1 – FBS12915,16711885Headcount
D1 – FCS12513,02810463Equivalency

When it comes to college football scholarships, it’s common for college football teams to extend more offers than roster spots and scholarships that they have available. That’s because they expect some prospects to sign elsewhere and others to not stay with the team all four years. To make room on the roster, teams can extenddifferent types of offers. These include:

  • Redshirt: The student-athlete will have a scholarship but can’t compete for one year. They will get an opportunity to play four seasons in five years.
  • Blueshirt: Like a redshirt, the student-athlete will practice with the team but won’t be allowed to play for a year. Unlike a redshirt, the student-athlete must be unrecruited.
  • Grayshirt: The student-athlete postpones enrolling full-time and participating with the team for one semester.

Greenshirt: The student-athlete enrolls a semester early and participates with the team

Football scholarships requirements

Athletes must meet both athletic and academic criteria in order to get a football scholarship. The athletic criteria are largely up to the football program at each individual school. Every coach has different methods for determining which athletes are right for his roster, which is why the recruiting process is so crucial. If you’re not sure what a college coach looks for athletically in your athlete’s position, check out the roster. Or, better yet, the athlete can send the coach an email to ask.

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The NCAA Eligibility Center has specific academic requirements that athletes must meet to be eligible to compete at either the NCAA Division 1 or Division 2 levels. We’ve included the Division 1 requirements below. A good rule of thumb is that, if an athlete meets or exceeds the D1 requirements, they will be eligible at the D2 level, as well. However, always bear in mind that each individual school has its own set of admissions requirements that athletes will also have to meet.

  • The athlete must graduate from high school.
  • They must complete 16 core courses and receive a minimum GPA of 2.3 in those courses. The core course requirements are as follows: four years of English; three years of math (Algebra 1 or higher); two years of natural or physical science; two years of social science; one extra year of English, math or science; and four years of religion, philosophy, foreign language or additional years of any of the categories above.
  • Athletes need to complete 10 of their 16 core courses before junior year of high school.
  • Athletes must take the SAT or ACT and score a minimum of 400 on the SAT (math and reading only) or 37 on the ACT (sum score).
  • Their core course GPA combined with their SAT/ACT score must meet the minimum requirements as laid out by the NCAA Sliding Scale.

How many scholarships do Division 1 football teams get?

Division 1 FBS teams can give out a maximum of 85 full-ride scholarships to athletes. Division 1 FCS programs can provide a maximum of 63 total scholarships. The 85 FBS scholarships are headcount scholarships, which means every athlete who receives a scholarship at the DI FBS level gets a full-ride scholarship. The 63 FCS scholarships are equivalency scholarships. This means a coach can divide these scholarships up, giving more athletes partial scholarships.

How many scholarships do Division 2 football teams get?

NCAA D2 schools are limited to 36 full or partial scholarships per year. Since a college football team’s roster size is much larger than 36, most D2 programs will decide to divide up the sum of scholarship money so more players can receive athletic aid.

The difference between NCAA football scholarships and NAIA football scholarships

The NCAA and NAIA are the two main governing bodies for college sports, and both have their own specific methods for how they handle football scholarships and regulate the recruiting process.

NCAA football scholarships can be awarded by both D1 and D2 schools—D3 colleges and universities do not give out any athletic scholarships. To receive Division 1 football scholarships or Division 2 football scholarships, athletes must meet or exceed the specific eligibility requirements created by the NCAA, as well as get their amateurism certificate. The NCAA also enforces their recruiting rules and calendar for the D1 and D2 levels, which detail when and how college coaches are allowed to contact recruits.

NAIA football scholarships can be awarded by any fully funded member college or university. The NAIA does have its own set of academic eligibility criteria that student-athletes must meet, but they don’t have set recruiting rules like the NCAA. The recruiting process is less scripted, and it’s up to the individual schools to determine their own recruiting rules and calendar.

Insider tip: While NCAA D3 schools do not offer athletic scholarships, most have competitive financial aid packages for students that, in many cases, end up covering a large portion of their tuition and fees. Learn more about how to knock down the price of a D3 school.

Scholarships are offered on a year-to-year basis, so more can be rescinded in the coming seasons if a program’s budget is cut or rosters become jam-packed with upperclassmen. This doesn’t mean recruits should necessarily take the first offer they get, but they should not wait too long. Sometimes a direct but polite conversation with the college coach is the best way to determine if a recruit is still wanted.

How to get a football scholarship

The short answer: It’s up to the coach of an individual team to award an athlete a scholarship. Athletes must show that they have the ability to make an immediate, positive impact at their position or they need to demonstrate that they have the potential to develop into a key player. This is why finding the right division level athletically is so important. A recruit might technically qualify to play at a D1 school, but they could be a more impactful athlete at a D2 or NAIA school. So, they would likely get more money—and more playing time—at the D2 or NAIA levels, as they will be able to make a bigger impact on those teams.

Layered on top of athletic ability, recruits need to be academically eligible to compete at the school. Not only do they need to meet the NCAA and/or NAIA academic eligibility requirements, but they need to comply with the school’s specific entrance requirements, which are often tougher to meet the NCAA eligibility requirements. In other words, the higher a recruit’s grades and test scores, the more schools will be available to them.

Do walk-ons get a scholarship?

Walk-ons do not get athletic scholarships. Despite not receiving any athletic money, walk-ons are often the backbone of a great football team. Think about it this way: D1 FBS teams can give full-ride scholarships to 85 athletes on their roster. However, most FBS D1 teams will have 118-130 student-athletes on their roster, and those additional spots on the team are filled by talented walk-ons. Learn more about being a walk-on.

What is the difference between a verbal offer and an official offer?

Verbal scholarship offers are non-legally binding “handshake” agreements between a college coach and recruit, indicating that the coach is reserving a scholarship for that athlete on his team. However, coaches and recruits both can back out of a verbal offer at any point—and it does happen! If an athlete gets a verbal offer their freshman year and gets injured their junior year, the coach might pull the verbal offer.

An “official” offer is still essentially the same thing as a verbal offer until you sign the National Letter of Intent, or NLI. Until you sign the NLI—or any other legally binding document—offers from college coaches are still handshake agreements that they’ll be providing you a scholarship to compete at their school.

Learn more about verbal scholarships offers.

What’s the difference between a committable offer and a non-committable offer?

Because D1 football programs are so large, coaches will extend verbal offers to multiple athletes at the same position in the same recruiting class. The idea is that they will lose a few of those recruits to other programs, academic ineligibility or other factors. So, when everything shakes out, they should still have all their positions covered. Some programs take this to more of an extreme than others, sometimes extending over 100 offers to a single recruiting class.

When an athlete receives a verbal offer, they can ask the coach where they are at on the coach’s list of recruits. If the coach mentions that the player is after a few top athletes for that position, the recruit knows that they should continue the recruiting process with other schools of interest, as their offer might fall through.

Scholarships are offered on a year-to-year basis, so more can be rescinded in the coming seasons if a program’s budget is cut or rosters become jam-packed with upperclassmen. This doesn’t mean recruits should necessarily take the first offer they get, but they should not wait too long. Sometimes a direct but polite conversation with the college coach is the best way to determine if a recruit is still wanted.

As of Aug. 1, 2016, the NCAA permitted college coaches to send out “official offers” via social media to high school juniors and seniors. It’s typically some kind of graphic or image letting you know that you have a scholarship offer from that school. This is great news, but remember: until you sign with that school, it’s still a non-legally binding verbal offer. You need to reach out to the coach immediately to discover what is included in the scholarship offer, where you’re at on the coach’s list of recruits and the coach’s deadline to receive your decision.

“Buyer’s remorse” and decommitments

Without camps and high school visits, college coaches have less recruiting information to work with before extending offers. According to Zcruit CEO Ben Weiss, there’s been more “copycat” recruiting so far in 2020 than most. Coaches are looking at what their competitors do as a primary way of finding new players to put on their radar. This is all contributing to early offers at the Division 1 level.

Part of this is because it is becoming more common for Division 1 recruits to commit to a college sight unseen, even if they only have tepid interest in a school. Visiting college campuses has become difficult and more recruits are accepting offers because they are unsure how many they will receive in this recruiting climate. They are feeling like they just want the uncertainty and the process to be over with.

Both colleges and prospects are making decisions with less time and information. “Without being able to see a lot of top targets on campus, schools are taking more risks in the evaluation process. Before, schools would wait to have confirmed measurables on recruits. Schools are now pulling the trigger and extending offers. As a result, there is likely to be an abnormal amount of buyer’s remorse (recruits going to schools above their playing level) and underrecruited gems that wind up at schools below their playing level,” says Weiss.

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College football scholarships | D1 football scholarships (2024)


Do colleges give full scholarships for football? ›

Division 1 FCS programs can provide a maximum of 63 total scholarships. The 85 FBS scholarships are headcount scholarships, which means every athlete who receives a scholarship at the DI FBS level gets a full-ride scholarship.

What are the odds of getting a college football scholarship? ›

Playing college football is a dream for many student-athletes, but what are the odds of scoring a football scholarship? Approximately 57% of football players in Division I are awarded some level of scholarship and roughly 63% in Division II are awarded funds.

Is a scholarship enough for college athletes? ›

Most student-athletes do not receive a full-ride scholarship—in fact, only 1 percent do. Still, full-ride scholarships as the goal for many athletes, as they typically cover tuition and fees, books, room and board, supplies, and sometimes even living expenses.

How many college football players get full scholarships? ›

Division 1 FBS teams can give out a maximum of 85 full-ride scholarships to athletes. These scholarships are headcount scholarships, which means every athlete who receives a scholarship at the DI FBS level gets a full-ride scholarship. Division 1 FCS programs can provide a maximum of 63 total scholarships.

What is the hardest school to get a football scholarship? ›

The list, compiled using offer information from Rivals, lists Stanford as the hardest scholarship offer to get, as David Shaw and his staff offered just 69 prospects. The top five is rounded out by Washington (80), Oklahoma State (91), Northwestern (102) and Miami (117).

How much is a full football scholarship worth? ›

NCAA Division 1

All are full rides with an average amount of $24,058 in 2020. Every year a coach may provide up to 25 new scholarships. Academic scholarships and need based aid may also be available. NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) comprises 126 schools and has a total of 13,603 players.

What is the hardest sport to get a college scholarship? ›

Most Competitive Sports for Recruitment
  • Football. This is the most popular sport in the country, and the most difficult to get recruited for. ...
  • Baseball/Softball. America's pastime shares much the same fate as football, but both genders can participate in this one. ...
  • Men's Wrestling. ...
  • Track and Field. ...
  • Fencing. ...
  • Women's Crew.
Nov 4, 2022

How many Division 1 football players are on scholarship? ›

D1 football teams are required to offer 85 athletic scholarships (and no more per team) and you can divide 85 by 4 because each coach has about 21.25 scholarships per year to replace graduating seniors. There are 117 football teams at the 1A level.

Are football scholarships hard to get? ›

The chances of being granted a collegiate athletic scholarship at the Division I level as a high school student are around 2%. Alongside this, for those individuals who are granted a scholarship the average value of it will be less than $11,000. While this statistic may seem shockingly small, don't get your hopes down.

Why are scholarships not enough? ›

These factors include (1) the potential lower- quality education obtained by student athletes, (2) the numerous university benefits received from student athletes, and (3) the additional strenuous obligations pushed upon student athletes beyond just playing sports.

What does a full football scholarship cover? ›

A “full-ride” means the school pays for your entire education: tuition/room/board/books/fees etc. up to the full “cost of attendance” – this is the scholarship that goes to NCAA Division I "headcount" sports: football (FBS only)/ basketball/ women's volleyball, tennis, and gymnastics recruits.

What is a good athletic scholarship amount? ›

The average athletic scholarship amount is around $17,142 per student. However, not every student receives this much. Most athletes get around $5,000.

Can you negotiate an athletic scholarship? ›

Once you've calculated how much you're expected to pay at each school, go back to your top schools to negotiate your athletic scholarship offer to see if they can match your best offer.

Can a college coach take away a scholarship? ›

Scholarships are Four-Year Guarantees

If a coach offers a prospective athlete a multi-year scholarship, the athlete will have a guaranteed scholarship for at least two years. They can only lose their scholarship if they commit a felony, violate a team or school rule, or quit the team.

How do I get my son recruited for college football? ›

This can be done by creating a Hudl account for your child. This way, you can organize your child's contact with college coaches while collecting field films to present to prospective coaches. College football scouts constantly track their contacts and films that other student-athletes submit.

What GPA do you need for a football scholarship? ›

Objective and Subjective: The specific eligibility requirements of the NCAA are well-defined as the minimum GPA requirement is a 2.3 or a lower GPA with an accompanying higher SAT/ACT score (reference sliding scales).

Do college football players get 4 year scholarships? ›

Athletic scholarships are given on a yearly basis. Many athletes and their families make the mistake of believe that athletic scholarships last all four years in college, but it's not true. That means that they award you financial aid one year at a time.

Does Division 2 football give full scholarships? ›

Very few student-athletes at Division II schools will receive full scholarships, but most will receive partial scholarships or some other form of athletic-based financial aid. Additionally, student-athletes can apply for other scholarships, like merit or academic scholarships, or other forms of financial aid.

What colleges offer football scholarships? ›

Check-out these page jumps to explore the 15 Best Colleges for Football Scholarships in 2021:
  • University of Michigan.
  • Ohio State University.
  • University of Alabama.
  • University of Texas.
  • University of Notre Dame.
  • University of Oklahoma.
  • University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
  • Pennsylvania State University.


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