Game On! These 13 Scholarships Will Help Student Athletes Pay for School

Athletic scholarships
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Editor’s note: Some of these scholarships may no longer be available.

When I was in high school, I dreamed of being a student athlete.

They were popular, good-looking and had all the extracurriculars to make college admissions counselors swoon.

Now that my 10-year reunion has come and gone, I’ve come to terms with my lack of athletic finesse, but I’m still envious of those sports scholarships.

If you think only the best athletes in the country get scholarship offers, well, you’re right. Just 2% of high-school athletes receive athletic scholarships, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Even so, the average athletic scholarship is only around $10,000 per year. Factor in the cost of room and board, a meal plan and out-of-state tuition, and you might wish you’d played chess at community college instead.

13 Athletic Scholarships for College-Bound Students

Luckily, some organizations have identified the gap in athletic scholarships and are helping to bridge it.

So whether you’re an all-star prodigy or just like playing pick-up on the weekends, you might be eligible for a number of fitness and athletic-based scholarships.

1. Wear Action Scholarship

Are you obsessed with your step count? Then this scholarship is perfect for you.

Wear Action is a website dedicated to education on wearable technology. It offers a $500 scholarship each year to any high-school or college student with the best 700+ word essay on the impact fitness gadgets have on our lives.

You must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be a U.S. citizen to apply.

The annual deadline is in February.

2. NSCA Foundation Scholarship

If you’re pursuing a career in strength and conditioning, such as physical therapy, coaching, or personal training, the National Strength and Conditioning Association Foundation awards scholarships in five different categories every year.

  • High School (for seniors entering college)
  • Challenge Scholarship
  • Jerry Martin Scholarship (specifically for students wanting to become strength coaches)
  • Minority Scholarship
  • Women’s Scholarship

Applicants are judged on a number of categories including NSCA involvement, financial need and an essay.

Scholarships are worth $1,500 each and students must be current NSCA members by the application deadline. The number of awards hasn’t been disclosed for 2017, but in 2016, there were 38 scholarship winners across the five categories.

The deadline is in March annually.

3. Sports Unlimited Scholarship

Sports Unlimited awards one $1,000 scholarship annually to a college freshman or sophomore or high school senior.

Its unique essay question asks you to identify a piece of gear or equipment used in a sport and to describe how and why to improve it. My pick would be lacrosse sticks, with a glow-in-the-dark paint job.

The deadline is April 25, 2017.

4. Fitness and Education Scholarship

If you plan to major in a health- or fitness-related field at a four-year university, Ironcompany sponsors this $2,000 scholarship annually for an incoming college freshman.

Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and explain what makes you passionate about fitness in an essay using fewer than 500 words.

The deadline is May 1, 2017.

5. Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship

The Positive Coaching Alliance awards high-school juniors $1,000-$2,000 scholarships based on their essays about improving themselves, their teammates, and the game.

Students must reside in the U.S. and play for a high school team or in club sports. The organization awards a minimum of 62 scholarships every year.

The deadline is May 31, 2017.

6. BigSun Scholarship

High school seniors and college students can apply for BigSun Athletics’ BigSun Scholarship.

Students must be engaged in a sport of any kind and apply with an essay describing how their participation in high school sports influenced them.

The deadline is June 19, 2017.

7. USATF Kim Haines Academic Excellence Grant

Student athletes who have been members of USA Track and Field for the two most recent consecutive years and have competed in one of the qualifying championships can apply for one of 10 grants from $500-$1500. The award amount is based on GPA.

The deadline is July 30, 2017.

8. Thomas “Sarge” Johnson Scholarship

These 11 scholarships are available for active USA Boxing members who have have competed in at least two sanctioned bouts in this year, as well as each of the last two calendar years. Applicants should have completed at least one semester in a college, technical or vocational school.

There are two trade school awards for $2,000 each, seven undergraduate awards for $3,000 each and two graduate awards for $2,500 each.

The deadline is Sept. 15, 2017.

9. Focus Fitness Scholarship

Focus Fitness teaches at-home bodyweight exercises and proper nutrition. Its annual $3,000 scholarship is open to all college students in any major, but special consideration is given to students committed to living a healthy lifestyle.

You’ll have to write a 1,000-1,500 essay about why you chose your major and what you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The deadline is Dec. 1, 2017.

10. Yoga Alliance Foundation Scholarship

If you’re more of a sun warrior and a four-year university isn’t your thing, then you can apply for one of the Yoga Alliance Foundation’s nine yoga education scholarships.

Awards are biannual. The spring deadline is in May, and the fall deadline is in August.

11. CaptainU Student-Athlete Scholarship

CaptainU is a site that allows student athletes to promote themselves to colleges and helps college coaches manage their recruiting efforts.

High school and junior college students who play sports and plan to attend a four-year college can apply for this $2,000 award by completing a profile and promoting themselves and CaptainU on social media.

This scholarship has a quarterly deadline.

12. Lawrence A. Golding Scholarship

The American College of Sports Medicine honors one undergraduate student at its annual ACSM Health & Fitness Summit with $1,000 in scholarship money and $1,000 credit to the ACSM store for DVDs, books or wearables.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors in college who have made a significant contribution to their community in the areas of health, fitness and/or education can apply.

The deadline is in November annually.

13. Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Scholarship

For high school seniors entering a four-year, accredited U.S. college or university, Foot Locker awards $20,000 scholarships to 20 students each year.

Of those, one scholar will be selected for the Ken C. Hicks Scholarship, receiving an additional $5,000 award.

Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be a member in good standing of a high school sports team or be involved in an after-school sport.

The deadline is in December annually.

Jen Smith is a writing intern at The Penny Hoarder and blogger behind Saving with Spunk. She’s a recreational runner who spends more money on her sport than she will ever get back.