How to Get a Soccer Scholarship (Division I and II)

Playing on a college level soccer team can be an exciting way to continue one’s educational and competitive journey past high school. However, college and universities can be so expensive, so how can athletes obtain a athletic scholarship for school?

Collegiate-level soccer players can receive an athletic scholarship if they are recruited by a college soccer coach. Athletes must also receive a certain grade point average in alliance with the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA. Only Division I and II student athletes are offered athletic scholarships.

There are a few steps that need to be taken before accepting a soccer scholarship besides having good grades and athleticism. To find out what you need to do to secure a soccer scholarship, continue reading.

Preparing for Recruitment

There are many rules and strategies when it comes to scouting and recruiting.

Before you start reaching out to colleges or coaches, there are a few things to keep in mind. The recruitment process can start as early as 8th grade according to altheticscholarships.net, so it’s important that you start early on if you are serious about obtaining a soccer scholarship.

Not only do you need to work on your soccer skills from a young age, but you will also need to get good grades if you want to secure a scholarship. Since students will be attending school and playing sports at the same time, the college coach needs to know that the student is dependable.

There are many other qualities that coaches that look for in a potential student-athlete, including commitment, openness, and a good attitude. Stay proactive and talk to lots of coaches, as this will make the recruitment process easier for you.

Another thing to keep in mind during the recruitment process is that you should be making decisions independently. No one can do the work for you, so set aside time to talk to coaches, make highlight videos, and do lots and lots of research.

Be sure to also do lots of research on which schools and coaches you are interested in working with. Once you have an idea of which schools you would like to play for, compile your grades and stats together in an organized manner before sending them to coaches.

Some colleges might have different requirements when sending in your profile, so be sure to research what each school needs.

Related Article: How Do You Get a Scholarship in High School?

Dead, Quiet, and Recruitment Periods for Soccer Scholarships

As mentioned before, there are many rules and guidelines when it comes to the recruitment process. There are certain contact periods in which coaches can contact the athlete. These rules have been created mostly so that coaches can’t recruit athletes too early.

According to the Next College Student Athlete, the NCAA contact period for coaches to reach out to students is after June 15th of the athlete’s sophomore year. However, students need to do their best to contact coaches before and during this period of time.

The calendar of 2021 for Men and Women’s Division I and Division II soccer, there are a few times when a college coach cannot have any contact with the student outside of phone conversations, which are called “dead” or “quiet” periods.

Look at the table below to see the dead and quiet periods for each division (link to NCAA website for DI and link for DII).

DIVISIOND-ID-II
Women’s Soccer Dead and Quiet PeriodsNovember 8-11, 2021
December 15, 2021-January 5, 2022
November 8-10, 2021
Men’s Soccer Dead and Quiet PeriodsNovember 8-11, 2021
December 10-12, 2021
December 23-25, 2021
November 8-10, 2021
Quiet Periods Di/DII

During these times, there cannot be any contact between the coach and the potential athlete besides phone conversations.

What exactly is considered contact?

According to NCAA, contact is when a coach sees a student face-to-face and says more than hello to the potential student athlete or the athlete’s parent off-campus.

Working With Recruiters and Coaches for Soccer Scholarships

Whether you are the star player of your team, or you are skilled and passionate about soccer, then you might want to apply for a collegiate-level soccer scholarship. In order to do this, you will need to be recruited by a coach.

This step isn’t simple but is one of the most crucial parts of securing a scholarship. There are millions of other students in the country, and it can be difficult to coordinate a time to have a coach come and watch you play soccer.

Recruiting programs usually don’t have a lot of funding to scout amazing soccer players all over the world, so coaches need athletes to be proactive and reach out to them.

Go online and take a look at the different colleges that you may be interested in working with. If you have a highlight reel or video of you playing soccer, send that to the coach along with your statistics.

If you really want to stick out to college soccer coaches, you should also do more than just send them a video and stats. Create a recruiting profile on websites such as ncrfsports.com, ncsasports.org, collegesportsscholarships.com, etc.

In your profile, it’s extremely important that you showcase your skills and talents to potential recruiters or scouts.

You can also use this as a way to strike up a conversation with your potential coach. If they are looking for a player with a specific skill set, then your profile will be a great asset to showcase your soccer and skills.

Related Article: Is the Coca-Cola Scholarship Legit?

Attending Soccer Camps and Showcases

Many college coaches will not evaluate high-school students while they are practicing or playing with their high school team. Instead, scouts and coaches will use camps or showcases to observe potential candidates.

It’s important to be in contact with your desired coach to know which camps or showcases that they will be attending. Having a college coach watch a student play or practice soccer is known as evaluating and is very important in the recruitment process.

Go onto different websites, such as the National Sports Center website to find out the schedules for different showcases and camps.

There are many benefits when it comes to attending soccer camps and showcases, so if you are considering a soccer scholarship, this type of program is highly recommended.

Not only will you have more recruitment opportunities if you join a soccer camp, but you will also be able to play with higher-level soccer players. This gives you the chance to learn from other great athletes and coaches which can help build your abilities and skills.

Grade Eligibility for Soccer Scholarships

Close-up photograph of a perfect grade on a scantron test.

Even if you are an amazing soccer player, that is not enough to secure a college scholarship. Throughout high school, you must have a certain grade point average and you must take certain classes in order to play for a Division I or II colleges.

Division I

For a Division I college, you must take the following classes throughout your high school career in accordance with the NCAA:

  • Four years of English
  • Three years of math (Algebra I or higher)
  • Two years of social science
  • Two years of natural/physical science
  • Additional year of English, math, or physical/natural science
  • Four years of any additional class as the ones mentioned before OR foreign language, religion, or philosophy.
  • Take the ACT/SAT your junior year (you can repeat a test your senior year for a higher score)
  • Earn a 2.3 GPA for your core classes
  • Take a look at the Division I Full Qualifier Sliding Scale on page 2 of the NCAA document to see how ACT/SAT scores effect your GPA.

If you do not meet all of these NCAA requirements for a Division I college, then you will not be able to compete in your first year of college.

To obtain an Academic Redshirt, which allows players to still have a soccer scholarship and practice with the team without completing the first year, the student will need to complete all of the courses that were mentioned before. However, the student may obtain a 2.0-2.299 GPA to get an academic redshirt.

It’s also important to go onto the NCAA website to see what classes your school offers that align with the core course requirements. Talk to your school counselor your freshman year to see which classes you need to take.

Related Article: Minimum SAT/ACT Scores to Get Scholarships

Division II

The educational requirements are still held at a high standard at NCAA Division II colleges, but not as rigorous as the Division I requirements.

DII colleges require:

  • Three years of English
  • Two years of Math (Algebra I or higher)
  • Two years of natural/physical sciences
  • Two years of social science
  • Three additional years of English, math, or physical/natural sciences.
  • Four additional years of English, math, sciences, foreign language, religion, or philosophy.
  • A 2.2 GPA for your core classes
  • Take the ACT/SAT your junior year (you can repeat a test your senior year for a higher score)
  • Take a look at the Division II Full Qualifier Sliding Scale on page 2 of the NCAA document to see how ACT/SAT scores effect your GPA.

Once you have finished all of these requirements, send proof of graduation to the eligibility center. If all of these requirements are not met, you may still be able to qualify as a partial qualifier.

In this case, you would still be able to receive a scholarship and practice with the team, but you will not be able to compete for the first year of college.

NCAA, NJCAA, and NAIA only offer scholarships for D-I and D-II level colleges. The NAIA also has education and eligibility requirements for their students. In order to learn more about the requirements, make an account on the NAIA website to learn more.

Signing a Letter of Intent

Woman’s hands writing on sheet in a clipboard with a pen; isolated on desk

Once you have gotten recruited by an institution, there is one more step that you must take in order to receive your soccer scholarship.

If you are going to be playing for a D-I or D-II NCAA college, then you will have to sign a National Letter of Intent or the NLI. According to the NLI’s website, the letter is a binding agreement between the student and NLI member institution.

The university will give the scholarship to the student for one year as long as the student agrees to attend the university full-time for one year.

If the student does not fulfill their end of the agreement, the student athlete will lose a season of playing time at the next NLI institution. The letter does not need to be signed every year, just when you first enroll in a four-year institution.

Although signing on sounds easy enough, there are rules and dates that students need to abide by. For men and women’s D-I and D-II, they can start signing on November 10, 2021, through August 1, 2022. If you sign it outside the bounds of this time period, then the NLI will be invalid.

If you receive the letter within this period of time, there could be a 7-day signing deadline if there are only 7 days remaining in the signing period. If you do not sign within the time period, then the letter will become invalid.

Once this letter has been signed, other colleges, universities, and institutions are no longer able to contact you or your family out of respect for your decision. In order to send the letter, you can either send it via mail or electronically. A fax or email is only used to tell the university how you will be submitting the NLI.

If you are going to be playing for a D-III or private college, there are not as many guidelines and rules in comparison to the NLI. Instead, students will sign a Letter of Intent.

However, each institution can have its own rules and agreements when it comes to student-athlete commitments. Be sure to talk to the institution or guidance counselor for more clarity.

The NAIA does not dictate any information that is on the institution’s letter of intent. There are no signing periods (unless otherwise stated by the school) and prospective students are still able to contact other schools after signing the letter.

If a student does choose to attend a different college, the student must provide a 10-day notification. The NAIA also has no penalties if students choose to attend a different institution.

Overall, the process for obtaining a soccer scholarship is long and grueling, but it is a great way to student athletes to continue secondary education while playing for a higher-level team.

Read Next: How Do College Scholarships Work?


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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