The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) governs student athlete scholarships and participation in Division I and Division II college sports. The rules the NCAA sets for football players and their scholarships are the same as those for athletes in every other NCAA sport. These rules include academic eligibility, amateur status and other related considerations designed to ensure that teams do not unfairly contract professional athletes.

Academic Eligibility

The NCAA places strict eligibility requirements on student athletes and scholarship recipient academic performance. Division I football players must successfully complete 16 core courses in college, while Division II players must complete 14, including English, math, science and social sciences.

Division II athletes must graduate high school with a GPA of 2.0 and a minimum math and verbal SAT score of 820 or a combined ACT score of 68. Division I athletes must been the requirements of sliding scale linking SAT/ACT score with GPA. For instance, a football player with a high school GPA of 2.0 must have a minimum combined math and verbal SAT score of 1010 or a combined ACT score of 86, while a football player with a high school GPA of 3.55 or higher must have a combined math and verbal SAT score of 500 or a combined ACT score of 37.


All collegiate football players in the NCAA program, and all those receiving NCAA scholarships, must be amateur athletes. Future players must register with the NCCA in their junior year of high school to begin the amateur athlete process. By logging into the NCAA system, registered students can submit a request for a Final Certification of amateur athlete status. In order to achieve and maintain amateur status, students can’t play with professional athletes, enter into contracts with professional sports teams, enter professional drafts, accept payment or gifts from schools, accept benefits from a sports agent or tryout for or practice with a professional team. Students can try out for professional teams and accept incentives from them before enrollment, but not after.

Scholarship Information

Football scholarships for Division I and Division II students are provided in part by the NCAA and in part by the school the student attends. As of 2011, the NCAA awards approximately $2 billion in scholarships annually to athletes in all sports at top tier schools. This constitutes more than 145,000 partial or full scholarships. Full scholarships cover all student cost and fees, from tuition and room and board to books and meals. Partial scholarships provide partial funding in discretionary amounts. All NCAA scholarships are awarded by the athletic departments of academic institutions, usually at the recommendation of the head coach.

Additional Information

Basketball players may enter the professional NBA draft once during their collegiate career while maintaining amateur status, provided they aren’t drafted. Drafted players must go pro. International students must take the ACT or SAT in order to qualify as NCAA students, even if transferring from a foreign college or university. Home schooled students must also take a standardized test and provide proof of the equivalent of a high school diploma as per the laws in the student's home state.

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