Cheerleaders make it seem so effortless to perform backflips, basket tosses, and pyramids – all while smiling for the crowd! Like their fellow athletes, cheerleaders have a high risk of injury because of the dangerous stunts. The common injuries among college cheerleaders are muscle strains in the hips, lower back, legs, elbow and shoulder dislocations, and fractures.
Such high risks have been documented in many movies and documentaries, such as Cheer and Last Chance U on Netflix. On Cheer, for example, the Navarro College’s cheerleading team continues to practice for competition despite concussions, ankle injuries, and twisted limbs. Indeed, cheerleaders are considered among the toughest athletes!
And that’s not an off-the-cuff statement either. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research (NCCSIR) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the number of direct catastrophic injuries among female cheerleaders was second only to football players! The number of cheerleading-related catastrophic injuries may have dramatically dropped in recent years. However, it still has the second-highest rate of injury over time than all the other NCAA-recognized sports – football is still the first.
But unlike football, the NCAA doesn’t recognize cheerleading as a sport, and neither do the people behind the U.S. federal Title IX guidelines. The courts have also consistently ruled that cheerleading isn’t a sport despite proof that it’s a physically demanding activity requiring strength, agility, and grace.
As the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote, its “time has not yet arrived.” But the court also didn’t discount the possibility that cheerleading might be recognized as a varsity sport someday.
What does this mean for cheerleading scholarships in colleges and universities in the United States? There’s less funding for cheerleaders’ scholarships because there’s no defined allocation for it under NCAA rules. There’s then less chance, if any, for cheerleaders to win a full-ride scholarship based on their athletic activities.
There’s good news, fortunately, despite these challenges! Numerous colleges and universities offer more benefits for their cheerleading and dance teams. These benefits typically include free uniforms, shoes, athletic gear, free transportation and accommodation when traveling for training and competitions, and free meals. The scholarships may also include meals stipend for in-campus student-athletes, book allowance, and tuition discounts, as well as credit hours credited to their transcripts.
Indeed, the cheerleading-related scholarships are fairly small compared to full and partial athletic scholarships provided to other student-athletes. But if you’re passionate about cheerleading, these scholarships are welcome!
Besides, the cheerleading and dance teams can also apply for other scholarships and aids offered by their respective college or university. These include merit-based scholarships and need-based aid, such as FAFSA, as well as third party scholarships. When scholarships, grants, and aids are combined, you may get a partial ride to college.
Don’t wait for top colleges and universities to come knocking on your door for recruitment reasons. Most of these educational institutions aren’t actively recruiting for their cheerleading and dance teams.
You have two options in getting their attention. First, you can directly contact the college cheerleading coach and send in your audition tapes. The college cheerleading coach will then contact your high school coach for a possible tryout.
Second, you can attend clinics hosted by collegiate cheerleading teams and wow them with your skills. Keep in mind that a typical clinic consists of a few all-day sessions where cheerleaders demonstrate their best moves. The competition is as fierce as you imagine it to be.
The following 14 colleges and universities offer great scholarship opportunities for cheerleaders. Of course, you should choose a college or a university-based on other non-cheerleading-related factors, such as cost of tuition, overall academic reputation, and areas of study.
Interested to be a part of the program? Explore these page jumps to know the 14 Best Colleges for Cheerleading Scholarships:
- University of Kentucky
- Concordia University Ann Arbor
- University of Minnesota
- University of Hawaii
- University of Delaware
- Oklahoma Panhandle State University
- Barton Community College – Kansas
- Belmont University – Tennessee
- Fort Hays State University – Kansas
- George Washington University – Washington, D.C.
- Indiana Tech University
- Louisiana State University
- Tarleton State University – Texas
- Texas Tech University
If you’re looking for the best cheerleading squad in the country, you should consider the University of Kentucky’s cheerleading squad! The squad has dominated and continues to dominate the Universal Cheerleaders Association National Championships with 23 national titles under its belt.
No wonder then that the university has a special scholarship program for its cheerleaders. Depending on their residency status, all Blue Squad members receive the equivalent of either the full amount of in-state tuition (for residents) or part of the out-of-state fees (for non-residents). Furthermore, all Blue and White squad members with at least 3.0 GPS for the fall semester receive a modest academic scholarship at the end of the spring semester.
Note: There are currently no tuition scholarships for White squad members. The funds for this university-administered cheerleading scholarship come from the President’s Office.
But there are also several scholarship opportunities within the university that cheerleaders in the Blue and White squads may be qualified for. Each one has its academic and athletic requirements, so be sure to read the fine print.
- Mr. and Mrs. Ralph McCracken, Jr. Cheerleading Scholarship Endowment is open for members of the Blue and White squads. The amounts vary from $100 to $300, with the award based solely on academic performance.
- The Bill Blount, Jr. Memorial Endowment is a need-based scholarship awarded based on the Student Financial Aid Office’s records.
There are also other scholarships with amounts varying from $1,000 to $1,500 for qualified cheerleaders. These need-based grants are funded from private donations and awarded by the advisor upon the coaches’ recommendation.
Cheerleaders at Concordia University Ann Arbor are provided with athletic cheer scholarships in varying amounts depending on their skill level, ability, and seniority, among others. These athletic scholarships are renewable every year, provided that the student-athlete remains eligible.
Student-athletes can also apply for academic scholarships on top of their athletic scholarships. The former is usually determined and awarded via the admissions process, and these are typically merit-based. There are also several need-based grants that cheerleaders can apply for.
Every student-athlete must compete as part of one of the university’s competitive teams, namely, the all-girl and NAIA coed teams. Pre-competitive evaluations will be conducted for placement purposes. Cheerleaders may also be required to move between teams upon the discretion of the head coach.
For the all-girl team, applicants must be:
- A member of a high school, JUCO, or an all-star team preferably with at least one year of cheerleading experience
- Able to perform pike, double jump combo, and double-toe-touch (Jump minimum)
- Able to perform transitions, elite extended stunts, and transitions (Stunt minimum)
- Able to perform back tuck or back handspring (Preferred tumbling moves but optional only)
For the NAIA coed team, applicants must be:
- A member of a high school, JUCO, or an all-star team, preferably with years of cheerleading experience
- Able to perform toe-touch tuck and triple jump combo (Jump minimum)
- Experienced with elite twisting and inverting extended stunts, pyramids, basket tosses, and multi-transitional stunts
- Able to pass minimum tumbling requirements including standing or running pass with a layout ending and back tuck
The Golden Gophers Spirit Squads consist of four distinct squads: the coed and small coed cheer squads with male and female members; the Minnesota Dance Team with 19 dancers; and the all-girl cheer squad.
Veteran squad members are provided with scholarships, although the number of scholars selected is limited. But all Spirit Squad members have a book allowance for every semester.
The university also offers several scholarship opportunities for newcomers, including aspiring cheerleaders, dancers, and mascots for the Spirit Squad. These are competitive merit-based scholarships with amounts ranging from $1,000 for a year to $60,000 spread over four years.
The university-wide scholarships include:
- Maroon and Gold Leadership Award ($12,000 every year for four years)
- Gold Scholar Award ($up to $10,000 every year for four years)
- Presidential Scholarships ($1,000-$10,000 every year for four years)
- Bentson Family Scholarship ($24,000 over four years with preference to Jewish students)
- National Scholarship ($1,500-$15,000 every year for four years)
There are also several college-specific scholarships that Spirit Squad members can look into. Specific colleges award these within the University of Minnesota system, such as the Carlson School of Management, College of Biological Sciences, and College of Education and Human Development. Examples include:
- John and Jane Clark Scholarship ($20,000 every year for four years
- Hinman Scholarship ($7,500 every year for four years)
The U of M Scholarships requiring a separate application includes the Puckett Scholars Program, ROTC scholarships, and BeGreek Scholarships. Be sure to consider these additional scholarships, too.
You may also contact Mark Coyle, the Director of Athletics, at email@example.com or call 612-624-4497 for more information on athletic scholarships.
The University of Hawaii truly takes good care of its cheerleaders! The school offers between 12 and 14 full-tuition scholarships exclusively for members of its cheerleading team. These scholarships cover the entire tuition cost for both in-state and qualified out-of-state cheerleaders.
On top of that, the university also offers a second scholarship for its out-of-state cheerleaders! The out-of-state cheerleaders who qualify will only pay half of the tuition costs, a significant relief indeed.
Cheerleaders can also access several WUE scholarships and financial aid in the form of tuition waivers provided they meet qualification requirements. The Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) is a scholarship agreement wherein more than 160 participating public colleges and universities provide tuition savings for their students.
The eligibility requirements are the same for non-student-athletes and student-athletes. These include:
- Being a qualified resident of a WICHE member state or territory. The member states are Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, California, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.
- Plan on studying at a public college or university, such as the University of Hawaii, which should also offer your preferred degree and specialization.
- Meet the school’s admissions criteria and the WUE eligibility requirements.
Cheerleaders can also apply for financial aid as soon as possible. The university is well-known for its efficiency in assisting cheerleaders in meeting their school-related financial needs. Check this page for more details. Contact Mike Baker, the cheerleading head coach, at Mkbaker@hawaii.edu or call 808-956-4503.
The University of Delaware cheerleading team won its second straight national championship at the open coed Division I of the Universal Cheer Association in February 2020. Indeed, it was a hard road to success that the cheerleading team hurdled!
If you want to become part of the team, you will also access the cheerleading scholarships. You can get up to $7,500 if you’re a Delaware resident.
These scholarships are administered and awarded by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics based on each student-athlete’s academic and athletic performance. The Department complies with the rules and regulations of the NCAA for sports-related scholarships and grants. The amounts awarded for cheerleaders will vary, too.
For more information about cheerleading scholarships, contact the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics at (302) 831-4006. You may also complete the Prospective Student-Athlete Questionnaire, and the Department may communicate with you and your coach.
Also, you can apply for other merit-based scholarships and need-based financial aid. There are no separate applications required for many merit-based scholarships since the university automatically considers all admitted students. But returning students who have filed for FAFSA will be evaluated every year for donor-based scholarships, known as endowments.
Endowed scholarships are typically granted based on specific criteria, such as academic merit, financial need, and athletic qualifications. The amounts vary, although $2,000 per year is typical. There’s a wide range of additional scholarships, such as the Anderson-Rosenfeld Diversity Scholarship, African Violet Scholarship, and Crowe Family Scholarship.
The scholarship funds are usually paid directly to the concerned student’s account at the start of the applicable terms.
The Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) athletes, known as Aggies except for its football and rodeo teams, are cheered on by its strong and graceful cheerleaders. The university offers generous cheerleading scholarships for its in-state and out-of-state student-athletes, too. The amount can go as high as $10,500 for a qualified student.
The qualification requirements include a minimum of three years of residency in Oklahoma for in-state students and a 2.5 GPA. Like their counterparts in NCAA-recognized collegiate sports, cheerleaders on scholarships are expected to meet high academic standards and comply with athletic demands.
Cheerleaders are also welcome to apply to the university’s scholarships, provided they meet eligibility requirements. These include the following:
- The dorm scholarships are awarded to students with good academic standing and enrolled in credit hours every academic year.
- The Presidential Scholarship ($2,000/year) is open to newcomers who graduated as class valedictorian in high school or have high ACT (26 and up) or SAT (1,230 and up) scores. The renewal requirements include at least 3.25 GPA and enrolled in 30 credit hours per year.
- The Educational Achievement Award is renewable every year for four years (total of $2,000). First-year and transfer students are welcome to apply.
- The Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship ($2,000 for two years) is open only to fraternity members.
There are more than 275 scholarship opportunities listed at the Panhandle State Foundation’s 2021-2022 Scholarship page. The application forms will be available on December 1, 2020 and the application deadline is on February 16, 2021.
The Barton Cougars, the sports teams of Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas, are eligible for athletic scholarships. Cheerleaders can apply for these athletic scholarships, too, if they are actively participating in the practices and competitions during the entirety of their scholarships. The head coach and staff typically determine the amounts and the terms and conditions of the agreement.
In general, in-state cheerleaders and dancers receive a full tuition and book scholarship per semester. On the other hand, out-of-state cheerleaders and dancers receive $500 and a book scholarship for every semester they are on the team. No wonder that the Barton Dance Program is a Nationally Ranked Collegiate Dance Team with a top 5 finish at the NDA National Collegiate Championship in April 2020!
As implied, there are two Barton Cougars squads – the Cougar Danz Force and the Barton Cheer Team. The dance team consists of 20-25 members chosen for their graceful athleticism and love for performance. Aside from the full tuition and book scholarship, the university’s members are also provided with their uniforms and travel expenses, among other perks.
If you’re interested to become a dance team member, fill out the Dance Questionnaire and wait for further instructions.
The cheer team has more than 30 years of experience in competitions. They also receive the same benefits as the dance team members. Fill in the Cheer Questionnaire, and a coach may reply with further information.
The Belmont University cheerleaders are pampered in a way, too! All of them receive partial scholarships with the amount determined by their seniority and academic and athletic performance. The amount varies between $1,000 and $2,500, and it will be determined by the coach, athletic staff, and other concerned university staff.
In addition to the partial athletic scholarship, cheerleaders also receive full support for their cheerleading equipment and activities. These include all their uniforms, practice clothes, and shoes, as well as bags, warm-ups, pom-poms, megaphones, and traveling expenses.
Cheerleaders can also apply for merit-based scholarships. The admission application itself is the scholarship application where first-year students are concerned.
The General Academic Merit Scholarships have varying amounts, from $3,000 to $10,000 every year, and these have a rolling deadline for as long as funds are available. The freshmen eligibility requirements include a 26 ACT, or a 1,210 SAT score and a minimum of 3.83 cumulative high school GPA.
The named scholarships have a December 1 application deadline. Applicants must be in the top 2% of all freshman applicants with other factors, such as class rank, demonstrated leadership, and individual accomplishments, also considered. Take note that a named scholarship, or endowment, typically replaces whatever general academic merit scholarship already awarded.
The foremost examples of named scholarships are:
- The Archer Presidential Scholarships covers the full cost of tuition and room and board, fees, and books for eight semesters, or four academic years, of continuous study.
- The William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship covers full tuition, room, and board, books, and fees, too.
- The Faculty Scholarship provides $15,000 in grants every year to more than 200 students.
Check out the departmental scholarships and other types of scholarships, too! Belmont University ensures that its students can afford a top-notch education.
The Fort Hays State University Cheer Squad and Tiger Debs Dance Team serve as university ambassadors, promote its athletic programs, and cheer on the teams. Their members receive scholarships, although the amounts vary.
The cheerleaders who live in residential housing receive a $1,000 discount on their accommodations. They also get up to two credit hours in physical education for every year they are on the team. The university also provides their uniforms, warm-up requirements, athletic bags, shoes, pom-poms, camp outfits, megaphones, and camp expenses.
The dance team members get $800 in scholarship for their on-campus accommodations every semester. Upper-level students living in on-campus residences can choose between a stipend and a residential living scholarship, too. All other members receive stipends for their performance in every basketball and football game. Each veteran member also receives a minimum of $600 each semester.
Like their cheerleading counterparts, the dance team members get free athletic bags, uniforms, and earrings, as well as enjoy all-expense-paid summer travel camp experiences. But the members must buy their practice gear, shoes, warmups, tights, and makeup.
Cheerleaders and dancers can also apply for the numerous scholarships offered by the university in addition to their athletics-related grants. The eligibility requirements differ for each program, but most, if not all, require a GPA and enrollment threshold. For example, scholars must be full-time students at FHSU with at least 12 credit hours per semester.
The university-level scholarships are open for first-time incoming first-year students only, and these students should be enrolled full time for the applicable academic year. These are divided into Gold, Bronze, Silver, and Copper awards based on their ACT scores.
Check out this page, too, for more information about the scholarship opportunities.
The George Washington University Spirit Program consists of the First Ladies Dance Team, the coed Cheer Team and the university mascot (George), and the Colonial Brass. The members are eligible for a competitive scholarship program that award tuition and fee discounts and stipends.
The institutional scholarships are typically offered as part of the admission package or a financial assistance package. While other offices award most of these scholarships, the GW Spirit Program staff must ensure continued eligibility among the GW Spirit Program members. The staff is also responsible for the annual funds’ renewal for its student-athletes.
In addition to scholarships, the members also enjoy the following benefits:
- Front row seats for GWU athletic events
- Free Adidas and Varsity uniforms, workout gear, shoes, and travel bags
- Free travel to post-season tournaments
- Complimentary tickets to GWU sporting events for family and friends
Team members also enjoy numerous community service activities, bonding events, and networking opportunities.
Note that a student cannot accept all awards for which he/she was deemed qualified. In other words, only one scholarship will be accepted, and it’s typically the largest award. Tuition Exchange or GW Employee Benefits cannot be combined with any of the merit-based awards.
For more information on athletic scholarships, contact Tiffany Jones and Josh Cohen, the GW Cheer head coaches, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Indiana Tech University Warriors cheerleaders all receive an athletic scholarship, although the amounts vary. The head coach typically decides who will receive an athletic scholarship and its specific amount.
There are also several scholarships offered for student-athletes.
- The Indiana Tech Athletic Hall of Fame Scholarship provided financial assistance based on academic excellence and financial need. It’s open to all majors and awarded by the athletic committee with the senior management’s approval.
- The Lenore and Bob Armbrust Memorial Scholarship is a single scholarship awarded annually. The first preference is to a female student-athlete, while the second preference is to a student with an unmet financial need. The renewal requirements include satisfactory progress.
- The Sarah A. Douglas Memorial Scholarship is also a single scholarship with a female athlete’s preference in the women’s softball program or a student in the accounting program.
- The Robert J. Swindell “Balanced Man” Scholarship is a one-year award open to male and female students who don’t have to be varsity athletes.
- The Jackie D. & Velma J. Wright Scholarship gives preference to basketball players, but other students may qualify in case of a vacant slot.
Cheerleaders can also apply for financial aid, such as FAFSA. Send an email to email@example.com or call 260.422.5561, ext. 2334 for more information.
Louisiana State University has two cheerleading squads. First, the Gold Squad with about eight advanced coed couples who represent the university at football, basketball, gymnastics events, and special events. Second, the Purple Squad with about eight coed couples also cheers for the volleyball and sand volleyball teams.
These squads have stringent eligibility requirements for a good reason – scholarships are awarded to their members. But these are called financial service awards instead of scholarships. These are awarded based on seniority or the number of years a cheerleader has been on the squad; thus, the amount varies.
- Second-year members – $1,000/year (Transfer students with prior cheerleading experience in college are considered second-year members)
- Third-year members – $1,500/year
- Fourth-year members – $2,000/year
The academic requirements include at least a 2.3 cumulative GPA. Cheerleaders with sufficient volunteer service hours are also eligible for additional service awards.
The Athletics Department also pays for all the cheerleaders’ expenses directly related to their membership. These include uniforms and athletic attire, travel expenses, and camp training fees.
Note that LSU doesn’t offer its Spirit Squad members out-of-state waivers. But students can apply for out-of-state waivers based on Louisiana’s academic programs and majors.
The Tarleton State University Cheerleaders has won the 2018 NCA National Championship, proof that it’s making great strides toward being a competition-level squad. Many of them are on scholarships, and all of them receive two hours of physical education credit, transferable and applicable to most bachelor’s degree programs. The university may also offer out-of-state tuition waivers for qualified cheerleaders.
The university also offers other scholarships. Many are based on academic merit while others are based on need. The amounts vary, too, but a few of these scholarships may be combined.
The Texas Tech Coed Cheer Squad performs at most sporting events where the home team is featured. Their members also represent the university at NCA College Nationals competitions.
What do they get in return? Texas Tech cheerleaders are provided with the following benefits:
- $1,000 leadership scholarship
- Paid uniforms, workout gear, and other cheerleading-related accessories
- Paid travel expenses for out-of-town games
- Meal plan
- Academic tutoring services
- Access to the services of a team doctor and athletic trainer
- Access to a strength and conditioning program
- Sponsorship deals for tanning, skin care, eyelash extension, facial waxing, and nail salon services
Contact the Texas Tech Spirit Program for more information about tryouts and scholarships for cheerleaders. The contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org for email, 806.742.5433 for phone, and 2625 15th Street, 201 Student Union Bldg. for mail.