High School Athletes: NAIA Scholarships Are A Great Option

By Janet Eggenberger

If you have a high school student who is considering college athletics, don’t overlook the lesser-known NAIA (National Association Intercollegiate Athletics). Many times schools associated with NAIA can offer very lucrative scholarship/grant packages and you are given the opportunity to continue on in your sport while focusing on academics. NAIA schools often reward students for being student-athletes with the emphasis on STUDENT. Many athletes look at NCAA schools only, and they neglect to even take a look at NAIA schools and that can be a big mistake. The level of play is very high at NAIA schools, just like in the NCAA.


If you are unfamiliar with the NAIA program, here’s a quick overview. The NAIA, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, is made up of 60,000 student-athletes in 13 sports with 23 national championships. There are close to 300 colleges and universities that participate with over $450 million in athletic scholarships. Scholarships, grants-in-aid or student loans are controlled by each institution through the same committee that handles all student loans and scholarships.


Each sport has a maximum cap of how much financial aid can be given to students in a particular sport. It can make full or partial grants to students in a sport.  Few NAIA schools will offer full ride scholarships to athletes, but partial scholarships are more common. The NAIA offers national championships for men in cross country, soccer, football, indoor and outdoor track and field, swimming and diving, wrestling, basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. Women’s national championships are offered in volleyball, soccer, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, swimming and diving, basketball, softball, tennis, and golf.


Don’t rule out NAIA schools when looking for colleges with student-athletes. For more information about opportunities from the NAIA, visit http://naia.cstv.com

Janet Eggenberger is a mom of three – a recent college graduate who just moved out, a college senior, and a high school junior. She is a graduate academic advisor at a private Chicagoland university.