The NCAA rules dictate that Divisions I and II schools disburse more than $3.6 billion in athletic scholarships every year. While $3.6 billion seems huge, it is not considering that more than 180,000 student-athletes share the amount – and it is $20,000 per year per student-athlete if you will.
In comparison, the average cost of tuition and fees (2020-2021) at a private college is $35,087 per year and $21,184 for an out-of-state public college; in-state tuition and fees at an in-state public college is $9,687 for the same academic year. Keep in mind that student-athletes must also pay for their room and board, textbooks and supplies, and other incidental expenses. This means that even with a full-ride athletic scholarship, the gap between the cost of attendance and scholarship will still be wide.
Then again, a full-ride scholarship will mean significant relief to the student-athletes and their families! After all, scholarships are intended to pay some or most of your education-related expenses, particularly tuition, fees, supplies, and room and board. You do not have to repay the money, but you have roles and responsibilities to remain eligible for it.
The bottom line: Athletic scholarships are welcome news for student-athletes and their parents, but these are challenging to win and retain. According to Fastweb, only about 1% to 2% of college students receive athletic-based scholarships. You have to put in extra time, effort, and energy to win one!
Furthermore, we can safely say that the competition for football scholarships is fiercer for many reasons. First, the NCAA, NAIA, and JUCO limit the number of scholarships schools can offer their athletes. Second, the total number of athletes in each division far exceeds the number of scholarships allowed. Third, the type of scholarship – headcount or equivalency – also limits the number of student-athletes who will get scholarships and the amount of scholarship (i.e., full or partial).
Take a look at the disparity in numbers to appreciate football scholarships’ fierce competition, especially in Division I FBS schools.
|Division Level||Average Number in a Team||Scholarship Limit Per Team||Type of Scholarship|
|NCAA Division I FBS||118||85||Headcount|
|NCAA Division I FCS||104||63||Equivalency|
|NCAA Division II||111||36||Equivalency|
NOTE: Rules dictate that Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships in any form. Ivy League schools – Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University – also do not offer athletic scholarships. However, Ivy League schools offer financial aid and grants to its student-athletes that offset their high attendance cost.
For a Division I FBS football team, more than a hundred student-athletes will be vying for 85 full-ride scholarships. You can imagine the stiff competition, from getting the head coach’s attention to proving your worth on the field. Take note that a full-ride scholarship in a headcount sport cannot be divided among two or more student-athletes.
The situation is quite different from Division I FCS schools – the maximum 63 total scholarships are equivalency scholarships. The head coach and athletic director can divide the scholarships resulting in partial scholarships for their student-athletes. The partial scholarships can be expressed in terms of percentage (i.e., percent of tuition and fees) or dollar amount.
The same is true for NCAA Division II and NAIA schools. However, in a way, these schools can be more attractive to student-athletes who may be unable to get into Division I schools for one reason or another yet still want to play college football, get a college degree and enjoy a scholarship. You should look into NCAA Division II and III schools and NAIA schools because you may just get a better deal on an athletic grant-in-aid or financial aid package.
Getting a football scholarship starts in high school, too. The NCAA Eligibility Center has specific eligibility requirements for aspiring to enter either the Division I or Division II level. These requirements are the following:
- Graduate from high school
- Complete 16 core courses including four years of English, three years of math, two years of social science, two years of physical or natural science; one additional year of English, science or math; four years of religion, foreign language, philosophy, or extra years of the other categories. Of these 16 core courses, ten courses must be completed before the junior year of high school
- At least 37 on the ACT or 400 on the SAT for math and reading only
The NCAA makes use of a sliding scale to determine academic eligibility. Suffice it to say that athletic ability is not enough to get you an athletic scholarship, much less get your NCAA eligibility papers. You must be a good student, too!
With that said, here are the 15 colleges that we believe offer the best football scholarships. We point out that many of these are Division I schools chosen partly because of their college football winning history. We did not include the Ivy League schools (Yale, Harvard, Penn, and Princeton) and the Division II schools (Mount Union, Wittenberg, and Washington & Jefferson College) in the list despite their winning history because they do not offer athletic 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
- University of Southern California
- University of Tennessee
- University of Georgia
- Louisiana State University
- Auburn University
- Clemson University
- West Virginia University
The Wolverines are 11-time national champions that compete at the NCAA Division I FBS. While there have been controversies with its scholarship program, such as the possibility that it exceeded the 85-man scholarship limit, the University of Michigan has the best football programs in the country.
The U-M football scholarships are not just based on athletic record and potential, too! Student-athletes are also evaluated based on their academic achievement, personality, and attitude. These scholarships also require a separate application form and process due to their specific nature, and the requirements include NCAA eligibility registration and minimum GPA and ACT/SAT scores.
You may contact the following office and person for questions about U-M football scholarships:
Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships
Aside from an athletic scholarship, a student-athlete may also receive aid from the university via his FAFSA application. The aid may be an additional merit-based or need-based scholarship, a Pell Grant, or a work-study arrangement.
Student-athletes are also allowed to receive non-athletic aid from outside sources under certain conditions, including non-restriction by the donor in college choice and no direct connection between U-M and the donor. However, student-athletes must report all outside financial aid, grants, and other educational expenses.
Athletic scholarships can also be reduced or canceled during awards under certain circumstances, such as ineligibility for intercollegiate competition, fraudulent misrepresentation, and voluntary retirement from the sport. In no case shall an athletic scholarship be reduced or canceled in case of an injury that prevents participation in the sport or based on the student-athletes ability to perform and contribute to the team’s success.
The Buckeyes are part of a college football program with the highest valuation in the United States – more than $1.5 billion! We can surmise that OSU’s football scholarship program is among the best, too, especially with its eight national championships.
The university’s athletic grant-in-aid may cover a student’s full cost of attendance. However, emphasis must be made that a student-athlete will be considered ineligible if and when he receives financial aid greater than the award period’s cost of attendance. We suggest contacting the Athletic Compliance Office in case an athletic and a non-athletic scholarship will be combined.
Known as tender, an athletic aid can be issued in two ways: first, to pay for a percentage of specific costs; and second, to pay for a specific portion of these costs, such as only for tuition and fees but not for books, room, and meals.
Since OSU issues full-ride football scholarships, the costs covered only include the following items:
- Tuition and mandatory fees
- Required textbooks
- Room and board
- Miscellaneous expenses
A football scholarship does not cover these items:
- Student health insurance
- COTA fee
- Taxes on room and board
- Single room charge
- Other fees including lock change fees, parking fines, transportation, and room damages
- Extra amounts requested on BuckID
Summer school scholarships are also awarded but under certain conditions, including receipt of athletics aid and completion of full-time course loads in the previous academic year. Student-athletes who will be first-time recipients for the following academic year can also be awarded summer school athletic aid.
For more information, you can contact the following:
Woody Hayes Athletic Center, 535 Irving Schottenstein Dr
The Crimson Tide are widely considered the kings of college football with 17 national championships since 1892. Nick Saban, the current head coach who led the team into five national championship titles in nine years, oversees both the football program and its scholarship aspect.
The University of Alabama offers full athletic scholarships that cover the following items:
- Mandatory fees
- Room and meals
- Required course-related textbooks
But it does not cover several items including but not limited to:
- Application fees
- General school supplies
- Late registration fees
- Reference books
- Parking tickets
- Library fines
- Cost of treatment for injuries not related to athletics
- Replacement fee for lost I.D.
- Fines and charges for damages to university property
A student-athlete on a full scholarship may receive other non-athletic aid but only up to the cost of attendance or a full Pell grant, whichever has the higher amount. Be sure to report other financial aid received to the athletics compliance office to ensure that the aid guidelines are followed. Money from parents, guardians, and other persons a student-athlete has a natural or legal dependency status is also permitted, as is financial aid unrelated to athletic ability.
The University awards football scholarships to qualified student-athletes upon the head coach’s recommendation and the express approval of both the Director of Athletics and the Director of Financial Aid. The head coach and Director of Athletics will also decide on summer aid recipients and their corresponding amounts; summer aid awards are made depending on fund availability.
For questions about athletic scholarships, contact:
Alabama Athletics Compliance
Mal Moore Building
323 Paul Bryant Drive, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
The Longhorns have four national championships, a point of pride for student-athletes and alumni. Many of its current student-athletes are on full-ride scholarships, which motivates them to win.
The amount of grant-in-aid specified in the financial aid agreement is guaranteed for the entirety of the eligibility period. The eligibility period refers to the student-athletes first four years of full-time enrollment at the university or until he receives his undergraduate degree, whichever comes first.
The football scholarship covers these items only:
- Required fees
- Required textbooks and materials, which are considered on loan and must be returned to the university at the end of the semester
- Room and board (The amount due for on-campus housing is directly paid to the Division of Housing and Food Service. The stipend for the off-campus room and board is disbursed in nine installments.)
The non-covered items include:
- Parking permits and tickets
- Fines and charges for damage to the university’s property, including your on-campus room
- Replacement fees for the lost key to your residence hall or dorm room
- Replacement fee for a lost I.D. card
- Interest on student loans availed through the Office of Financial Aid
- Breakage of equipment in a university facility including the laboratory and for non-required activities like field trips
The disbursement of summer athletic aid is based on fund availability and the recommendations of Student Services, the head coach and the athletic director, and NCAA guidelines. The amount disbursed is proportional to the athletic grant-in-aid received in the previous academic year.
Student-athletes may also tap into post-eligibility aid and the NCAA Student Assistance Fund. The latter requires a FAFSA application and demonstrated financial need.
For specific questions about athletic scholarships, contact:
Athletics Financial Aid Coordinator
The Fighting Irish have 11 claimed national titles aside from being second only to Michigan in terms of the highest winning percentage (73%). Its football scholarship program is also among the best in the country and attracts elite players like its seven Heisman Trophy winners.
In general, full athletic aid at Notre Dame cover the following elements:
- Room and board
- Books and supplies
- Personal expenses
Keep in mind that an athletic aid is not debited to your bank account. Instead, the money is posted directly to your student account, and its disbursement is evenly divided for each semester. The deposited funds are then applied to your tuition, fees, room, and board, among other applicable charges. In case of excess aid, the concerned student-athlete will get a refund.
Generally speaking, athletic aid may not be reduced, canceled, and non-renewed during the period of eligibility for athletic reasons. These include the student-athletes performance, ability, and contribution to the team and injury that prevents him from participating in the team.
However, athletic aid may also be reduced, canceled, and non-renewed during the period of eligibility for certain reasons. These include the student-athlete rendering himself ineligible for amateur intercollegiate competition, fraudulent misrepresentation, and voluntary withdrawal. The student-athlete has the right to appeal in these cases within 15 business days; the appeal should be coursed through the Faculty Athletics Representative.
Even a full athletic aid does not cover the summer term. However, summer aid is available in certain circumstances but with the approval of the head coach. Also, student-athletes receiving athletic aid must live on the campus for six academic year semesters
Contact this person for more information:
The Sooners claim seven national championships, seven Heisman Trophy winners, and 23 coaches and players in the College Football Hall of Fame. Indeed, Oklahoma’s football program attracts the best players across the country, so the competition for slots is fierce!
The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department provides the funding for the scholarships. Student-athletes must meet high academic standards along with their athletic training and performance.
The Athletics Compliance Department, particularly the Scholarship/Financial Aid Office, the University’s Student Financial Center, and the Bursar’s Office, work together to disburse scholarship funds. Questions about scholarships for incoming and transfer students can be directed to:
Athletics Compliance Department
Contact: Kayla Doiron
180 W. Brooks, #3695
Student-athletes who qualify for a Sooner’s athletic scholarship will receive a National Letter of Intent (NLI) and a Financial Aid Agreement (FAA) form. The athletic scholarship will be considered in the cost of attendance. Student-athletes who receive other forms of financial aid, including merit-based and need-based grants from sources inside and outside the university, must report them. The Student Financial Center and the Athletics Compliance Department are in charge of aid-related matters.
Like other Division I schools, a Sooner’s athletic scholarship covers:
- Course-related fees
- Books, which are on loan
- Room and board
- Other attendance-related expenses
Athletic grant-in-aid items do not cover parking permits and tickets, long-distance calls, and late charges.
The NCAA rules on summer school aid, inter-session aid, and fifth-year eligibility apply. This is also the case for the reduction, cancellation, and non-renewal of an athletic scholarship.
The Cornhuskers football program is among the most storied and successful in the nation with five claimed national championships, 25 members of the College Football Hall of Fame, and several famous players. The robust scholarship program for football players adds to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s attraction.
The Huskers Athletic Fund provides the scholarship program funds, while Nebraska Athletics provides excellent student-athlete support services. Indeed, Cornhuskers enjoy a long list of benefits, including financial support for education expenses, academics, life skills support, sports medicine and nutrition services, strength and conditioning, and PEO programming. The academic support services include every aspect of a student-athlete’s college experience, from their enrollment and transition to their retention and graduation.
Aside from the scholarship coverage for tuition and fees, room and board, and books for selected scholars, all Cornhuskers student-athletes also receive several perks, including:
- Free MacBook Air
- Access to the PEO Program (Alumni receive a one-semester scholarship up to $7,500 for a study abroad experience, internship, or graduate school)
- Access to Husker Bucks, an app that gives $10 per day (Saturday and Sunday only) to every student-athlete to spend on food and beverages at selected restaurants in downtown Lincoln.
- Adidas gear on and off the field
Note: The athletic scholarship is a full cost of attendance grant-in-aid, so qualified student-athletes have little to worry about in terms of parents’ contribution.
Contact the following for more information about the benefits of a Cornhusker’s athletic scholarship:
Athletic Department Address
University of Nebraska
One Memorial Stadium
800 Stadium Dr.
Lincoln, NE 68588
Phone Numbers: 402-472-4224 or 800-755-2565
Despite the controversies surrounding its scholarship program in 2012, Penn State’s scholarship program is as strong as ever today. Since regaining its full scholarship status in the 2016-2017 season, the university provides outstanding student-athletes financial assistance. There are currently 85 full scholarships on the roster, which means that 85 football players enjoy full payments on their tuition, fees, and room and board, among other covered costs.
The university has several endowments exclusive for football players. These include the Angeline & Louis Adams Endowed Football Scholarship, Chris and Linda Christensen “Hero” Endowed Football Scholarship, and the Frank “Fritz” DeFluri Football Scholarship. There are even endowments for specific positions, such as quarterbacks, right cornerbacks, tackles, placekickers, fullbacks, linebackers, centers, and walk-ons.
For questions about recruitment and scholarships, contact:
Financial Aid Coordinator
Student-athletes on athletic scholarships may also receive other financial aid from sources inside and outside the university. But it is important to inform the athletics compliance officer if you are planning to apply for or you will be receiving other non-athletic financial aid.
All students admitted to the university and who have submitted FAFSA are automatically considered for financial assistance administered by the Office of Student Aid. Note that all scholarships listed in your LionPATH Aid Summary will be counted toward your cost of attendance.
With 11 Division I Football National Championships, seven Division I Football National Championships, and 510 NFL draft picks, the highest by any university, the USC Trojan football program is a magnet for the best of the best! Its scholarship program is part of its huge popularity, especially as the university also provides stipends and other benefits for its student-athletes.
For concerns about the cost of attendance, stipends, and costs covered and not covered by an athletic grant-in-aid, visit the USC Financial Aid page. You may also contact the following for recruitment and financial aid concerns:
USC Financial Aid
John Hubbard Hall, Lobby. Los Angeles, California 90089-0914
Only the NLI serves as a binding agreement between the university and the prospective student-athlete; verbal commitments are not binding offers on both parties. The NLI has a provision that states USC agrees to provide the concerned student-athlete with athletics aid for one academic year subject to the university’s rules and the NCAA. The NLI also comes with a financial aid agreement signed by university representatives and the prospective student-athlete.
Zealous Volunteers will tell you about Tennessee’s impressive football record – 28 bowl championships, six national championships, and 16 conference championships – and do it proudly. If you were to become a Volunteer on a full athletic scholarship, you would be proud, too!
The athletic aid is intended to assist recipients with their university expenses, including tuition and fees, books, and room and board. Each sport, including football, offers the maximum number of athletic scholarships allowed by the NCAA – in this case, 85 full-ride grants-in-aid. The University Scholarship Committee awards these scholarships upon the head coach’s recommendation and the approval of the Director of Athletics.
Student-athletes on scholarship must maintain academic standards, including full-time enrollment and minimum GPA. Each grant-in-aid is valid for one academic year and must be renewed every year if the student-athlete still qualifies for it. The renewal should be made on or before July 1 of the period of eligibility or award year.
The university strongly encourages student-athletes to apply for non-athletic financial aid, such as merit-based and need-based scholarships like university academic awards and Pell Grants. Every financial aid received except for money from parents or legal guardians must be reported for compliance purposes to the Assistant Athletics Director and the Athletics Financial Aid Coordinator.
For more information, you may contact:
The Bulldogs student-athletes have a passionate tenacity that propels them toward academic and athletic achievements. If you want to become a Bulldog, you must then meet the NCAA’s eligibility requirements and the University of Georgia’s high standards.
The university’s Athletic Association awards 85 full-ride scholarships to its football team in accordance with NCAA rules. Student-athletes will receive a notification on or before July 1 if their application for athletic aid has been approved, reduced, or canceled for the upcoming academic year. The scholarship typically covers tuition, required fees, course-related textbooks, room, board, and other items specifically stated on the scholarship agreement.
Student-athletes are allowed to receive federal aid through financial aid, Pell Grants, and loans and be involved in a work-study program. The NCAA allows student-athletes employment throughout the academic year, but employers may not be viable with academic and athletic demands. File your FAFSA to be considered for federal assistance.
If you have been awarded a HOPE Scholarship, it will be used in paying for your college tuition, fees, and other applicable charges while your athletic aid will be decreased. You may also be eligible for university scholarships, outside grants, and the NCAA Opportunity Fund.
Contact the following persons for questions and concerns about athletic scholarships and other forms of aid.
The Fighting Tigers football program claims four national championships, an impressive record considering its long-running rivalry with college football titans like Alabama and Auburn. Many of its current players and alumni have enjoyed full-ride athletic scholarships thanks to LSU’s compliance with the NCAA’s maximum number.
With a full athletic scholarship, your out-of-pocket costs and parents’ contribution will be significantly reduced during your college days as a Fighting Tiger. This is because a full-ride means coverage for tuition and mandatory fees, required textbooks, room and board, and other specific costs stated on the NLI and financial aid agreement. The award period should not be for less than one academic year and should not be beyond the NCAA-mandated five-year eligibility period.
Student-athletes applying for institutional financial aid must meet the NCAA requirements, the Southeastern Conference, and the university about this matter. If you meet these stringent requirements, you may be awarded an athletic scholarship under specific conditions.
Be sure to report non-institutional financial aid (i.e., money received from outside sources) to the athletics compliance officer. Failure to do can result in going overboard the financial aid limit and becoming ineligible for athletic-based aid.
Contact the following for eligibility requirements and other related matters.
LSU Athletics Department – LSU Compliance
Athletics Administration Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70894-5095
The Tigers have an intense rivalry with the Crimson Tide players, and it reaches its peak during the annual Iron Bowl. We have to say that the Tigers are motivated by a sense of pride and their generous scholarship benefits.
However, getting a full scholarship at Auburn University means meeting all NCAA, SEC, and university eligibility rules. If you become a full scholar-athlete, your athletic aid agreement may span a maximum of 10 semesters. Your scholarship may, however, may be reduced or canceled under specific conditions.
The athletic aid’s amount will not be greater than the university’s cost of attendance. The scholarship will only cover these items:
- Mandatory fees
- Room and board (On-campus living accommodations only)
- Books and required course materials
The grant-in-aid will be directly paid into your student account while your meal money will be directly debited to your Warhawk ID.
You may receive other non-athletic, non-countable financial aid from your parents or legal guardians and other outside sources. These include allowances from parents, academic scholarships, federal assistance, and need-based financial aid; except for parents’ allowances, the non-athletic financial aid must be within NCAA, university, and federal guidelines.
Contact the following for more information.
Auburn Athletics Department
Auburn Athletics Complex
392 S Donahue Drive, Auburn, AL 36849
The Clemson Tigers football program is a recipient of substantial scholarships administered by Clemson University, the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), and various other organizations. Student-athletes can apply for these scholarships, financial aid, and grants, even several internships.
The athletic aid covers tuition and fees, books and room and board, and other attendance-related miscellaneous expenses as set by the financial aid office. The amount should not exceed the total cost of attendance lest the student-athlete and the university be in violation of NCAA rules. As such, other non-athletic aid received should be immediately reported to the athletics compliance officer or a financial aid coordinator for prompt and proper action.
Student-athletes can also apply for financial aid, including the Pell Grant, by filing a FAFSA and being eligible for the NCAA Student-Athlete Assistance Fund.
Contact the following for more information about athletic and non-athletic aid opportunities and recruitment purposes:
Clemson University Athletic Department
Jervey Athletic Center
P.O Box 31
Clemson, SC 29633-0031
The Mountaineers athletic scholarship program is supported by the WVU Intercollegiate Athletics through fundraising efforts, ticket sales, corporate sponsorships, and media coverage. The amount of a full athletic scholarship for each student-athlete varies between $16,000 for an in-state student and $26,000 for an out-of-state student.
The full scholarship covers tuition and fees, required books, and standard room and board. The student-athlete on scholarship should not receive a total value in excess of the amount mandated by the NCAA. But a student-athlete can receive multiple awards for as long as the NCAA restriction is followed.
The head coach recommends the student-athletes who will receive letters, and the Director of Athletics gives his approval. The letters are awarded by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Call the head coach for more information:
You may also direct your requests for general information by calling 304-293-9873.
Football scholarships are prestigious because they prove that the university believes in your athletic skills and, thus, it is willing to invest in your academic career. Now that says plenty of positive things about who and what you are!