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The Basics of Football Scholarships

In the United States there are more than 850 college/university football programs consisting of more than 80,000 college football players.  Football has more full scholarships than any other collegiate sport. Football teams are large, and will typically have more players than scholarships offered. Those student athletes who are not on scholarship are referred to as “walk-ons”. Every program is different,  but walk-ons get plenty of opportunities to play and can always earn athletic scholarships with improvement and adding value to the team. Football coaches are looking for top talent in the country and are willing to spend a lot of time and money recruiting the best high school student athletes in attempt to have them attend their college/university.

Basic Academic Guidelines to be Eligible

High school student athletes need to earn a 3.0 GPA, 24 ACT, and at least 1000 out of 1600 on the SAT in order to become eligible to compete at the collegiate level.

3.0 GPA/ 24 ACT/ 1000 SAT

Number of Football Programs by Division

NCAA D1 FBS and FCS: 245

NCAA D2: 148

NCAA D3: 237 (D3 schools are not eligible to offer athletic scholarships)

91 NAIA: 91

NJCAA: 138 

College Football Recruiting Process

It is every high school student athletes dream to play football for a big time program while earning a big time scholarship. The level of competition across the country is so high, the football recruiting process is very challenging at times. You must treat the college football recruiting process as a part-time job, and be very proactive and stay on top of your game at all times. You cannot wait around and hope that every college coach from all your dream schools magically reach out to you, because it does not always work like that. The recruiting process starts your very first high school game. Do not wait until your senior year to start your recruiting process, because you will have missed out on many opportunities to play at the collegiate level. College coaches really like to watch highlight videos of prospective student athletes, so be sure to prepare a quality video. In the beginning of high school, college coaches are restricted from contacting you, but there are certain ways you are able to get in contact with them and pop up on their radar. Third party services like, The Athletic Scholar, can help you identify potential schools that are a good fit, create a plan of action, and secure sports scholarship offers. Give us a call, send us an email, or fill out our FREE Evaluation form, and one of our expert recruiting agents will reach out to you asap!


College Football Scholarship Information by Division

NCAA D1 FBS (Football Bowl Series)

This level of college football is the best of the best.  NCAA D1 FBS programs have 85 full athletic scholarships with NO partial scholarships to offer.  Each year a  college coach may give out up to 25 new scholarships, which does not include the scholarships they might take from a current player and give to another player. Although the FBS level is the most popular, about 80% of opportunities to play college football are outside of D1 FBS.  D1 FBS programs are very competitive to earn a spot on the team, so it is very important to look into programs outside of the FBS.

NCAA DI FCS (Football Championship Series)

This is the second most competitive level of college football. D1 FCS programs offer 63 scholarships per team and can offer both full athletic scholarships and partial scholarships.  With the level of competition being so high in the FBS, often times high school student athletes choose to play at the D1 FCS level, because they will see playing time much quicker than at a big time FBS program. There are many great opportunities to compete at the D1 FCS level, at great academic schools, while receiving large amounts of sports scholarships.


NCAA D2 football programs offer 36 scholarships per team and can offer both full athletic scholarships and partial scholarships. Coaches tend to give out more partial scholarships in order to secure more top talent, and be able to compete at the highest level. This level of NCAA football produces plenty of great talent each year, and you can find many NCAA D2 players in the NFL today. Do not count out an opportunity to play football at the NCAA D2 level. There is no shortage on competition.  Reach out to us to receive more information on NCAA D2 football scholarships and opportunities.




NCAA D3 schools do not offer athletic scholarships.  There are opportunities for financial aid and other forms of aid for athletes.


NAIA football programs tend to go under the radar to high school student athletes and their parents. NAIA programs are able to offer up to 24 scholarships per team. NAIA coaches have the ability to reward partial scholarships so they can recruit more quality players, and build a stronger team. Due to the fact that not as many student athletes are aware of the scholarship opportunities the NAIA offers, the recruiting process is a little more easy going and scholarships are not as hard to come by.

NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association)

The NJCAA schools are referred to as Junior/Community Colleges. Student athletes who are not academically eligible to play at a 4 year institution have the option to develop their academic and athletic abilities and transfer to a 4 year program when their time is up at the NJCAA school. Junior Colleges offer 85 scholarships per team for a fully funded program. Not every NJCAA school is fully funded and in California, no NJCAA schools offer athletic scholarships.  NJCAA schools are great opportunities for student athletes to further develop their athletic abilities and become academically eligible for a 4 year program.