Do All College Football Players Receive Scholarships

Do all college football players receive scholarships? This article explores the landscape of college football scholarships and sheds light on the criteria and realities of the system.

In the world of college football, the allure of scholarships is often seen as a major draw for aspiring athletes. However, it is essential to understand that not all college football players receive scholarships. While scholarships are indeed available and highly sought after, they are not automatically granted to every player. It is a commonly misunderstood notion that all college football players are supported financially through scholarships. This article will explore the intricate landscape of college football scholarships and shed light on the criteria and realities surrounding this system.

Overview of College Football Scholarships

In the realm of college football, scholarships play a pivotal role in allowing talented athletes to pursue higher education while showcasing their athletic abilities. These scholarships are awarded to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional talent and potential on the football field, providing them with financial support to cover tuition, fees, and other educational expenses. Understanding the basics of college football scholarships, the different types available, and how they are awarded is crucial for prospective student-athletes and their families.

Understanding the Basics

College football scholarships are essentially financial aid packages offered to student-athletes who possess exceptional football skills. These scholarships not only provide financial support but also offer opportunities for personal and athletic development. Student-athletes who receive scholarships are expected to represent their respective institutions on and off the field, upholding the values and traditions of the university. It is important to note that not all college football players receive scholarships. Scholarships are highly competitive and are typically offered to athletes who have demonstrated exceptional talent and potential through their high school football careers.

Types of Scholarships

There are several types of college football scholarships available to student-athletes, each with its own set of benefits and requirements. The two primary types of scholarships are full scholarships and partial scholarships.

Full Scholarships

A full scholarship covers the entirety of a student-athlete’s educational expenses, including tuition, fees, room, board, and books. This type of scholarship is highly coveted and typically offered to athletes who have shown exceptional skill and potential in their sport. Full scholarship recipients are considered valuable assets to their teams and are expected to contribute significantly to the success of their programs.

Partial Scholarships

Partial scholarships, on the other hand, cover only a portion of a student-athlete’s educational expenses. These scholarships can range from a small percentage of tuition fees to a more substantial amount, depending on the athlete’s skill level and the resources available to the program. While partial scholarships may not cover the entire cost of education, they still provide valuable financial assistance to student-athletes and can significantly reduce the financial burden on their families.

How Scholarships are Awarded

The process of awarding college football scholarships is highly competitive and varies from institution to institution. Coaches and recruiting staff carefully evaluate the performance, skills, and potential of prospective student-athletes. They closely examine game footage, attend high school games, and communicate with coaches to assess an athlete’s abilities and determine their suitability for a scholarship. Additionally, academic performance, character, and work ethic are also taken into consideration during the evaluation process. Ultimately, the coaching staff and athletic department decide who will be offered scholarships based on their assessment of the athlete’s potential contributions to the team.

Full Scholarships


A full scholarship in the context of college football refers to a comprehensive financial aid package that covers all educational expenses for student-athletes. These scholarships are highly sought after and are typically offered to athletes who possess exceptional talent and potential.


One of the significant benefits of full scholarships is that they cover the entire cost of education, including tuition, fees, housing, and textbooks. This relieves the financial burden on the athlete’s family and allows them to focus on their academics and athletics without worrying about the expenses associated with attending college. Additionally, full scholarship recipients often receive priority housing and meal plans, access to top-notch athletic facilities, and academic support services tailored to their needs.

Requirements and Restrictions

While full scholarships offer numerous benefits, they also come with certain requirements and restrictions. Student-athletes are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) and make satisfactory academic progress to retain their scholarships. Additionally, they must adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by their respective universities and the NCAA. Violations of these rules may result in the loss of the scholarship and potentially jeopardize the athlete’s eligibility to compete.

Partial Scholarships


Partial scholarships in college football refer to financial aid packages that cover only a portion of a student-athlete’s educational expenses. These scholarships can vary in amount and are typically offered to athletes who have demonstrated talent but may not meet the criteria for a full scholarship.


While partial scholarships provide valuable financial assistance, they may not cover the entire cost of education. This means that student-athletes and their families are responsible for covering the remaining expenses. It is important for athletes and their families to carefully consider the financial implications of partial scholarships and to explore alternative funding sources to ensure the athlete’s educational needs are met.

Award Criteria

The criteria for awarding partial scholarships may vary from program to program. Coaches and recruiting staff consider factors such as athletic ability, performance, potential, and team needs when evaluating prospective student-athletes. While partial scholarships may not provide the same level of financial support as full scholarships, they still offer an opportunity for student-athletes to pursue their athletic and academic goals while receiving financial assistance.

Preferred Walk-Ons


Preferred walk-ons are student-athletes who are invited to join a college football program without receiving an athletic scholarship. These athletes usually possess the skills and potential to compete at the college level but do not initially receive a scholarship offer.

Financial Considerations

Unlike scholarship athletes, preferred walk-ons are responsible for covering their own educational expenses. However, they may receive other forms of financial assistance, such as academic scholarships, grants, or need-based aid, to help offset the costs. While it may require additional financial planning and resources, being a preferred walk-on can still provide opportunities for development and potentially lead to scholarships in the future.

Opportunities for Scholarship

Preferred walk-ons have the opportunity to earn a scholarship if they prove themselves on the field and meet the criteria set by the coaching staff. Coaches evaluate their performance, work ethic, and commitment throughout their time with the program. If a preferred walk-on consistently demonstrates exceptional skill and potential, they may be awarded a scholarship in subsequent years.

Non-Scholarship Players


Non-scholarship players in college football are student-athletes who are not on a scholarship but still participate in the football program. These players typically walk-on to the team, meaning they join without a scholarship offer or specific invitation.

Walk-On Programs

Many college football programs have walk-on programs that provide opportunities for non-scholarship players to be part of the team. These walk-on programs allow athletes to showcase their skills and potentially earn a scholarship in the future based on their performance and contributions to the team.

Role on the Team

Non-scholarship players play a vital role on college football teams. While they may not receive the same level of financial support as scholarship athletes, they contribute to the team’s depth and provide valuable scout team players during practices. Non-scholarship players often demonstrate exceptional dedication and a love for the sport, bringing a unique perspective and work ethic to the team dynamic.

Academic Scholarships

Importance of Academics

Academic scholarships play a crucial role in the lives of college football players, as it emphasizes the importance of education and provides opportunities for academic success. These scholarships are awarded based on a student-athlete’s academic achievements and can help alleviate the financial burden of attending college.

Criteria for Academic Scholarships

The criteria for academic scholarships may vary depending on the university and the specific scholarship program. Generally, academic scholarships consider factors such as high school GPA, standardized test scores, extracurricular involvement, and letters of recommendation. Student-athletes who excel academically in addition to their athletic pursuits have a higher chance of receiving academic scholarships.

Combining Athletics and Academics

Many college football players strive to strike a balance between their athletic commitments and academic responsibilities. While participating in a demanding sport like football, these student-athletes often face time constraints and rigorous training schedules. However, universities provide various resources, such as academic advising, tutoring services, and study halls, to support student-athletes in managing their academic workload alongside their athletic obligations.

Alternative Funding Sources

Grants and Financial Aid

In addition to scholarships, college football players can explore alternative funding sources, such as grants and financial aid. Grants are typically need-based and do not require repayment, while financial aid encompasses a broad range of options, including loans, work-study programs, and need-based aid. It is important for student-athletes and their families to thoroughly research and apply for these additional funding options to ensure they receive the necessary support to pursue their education.

Athletic Endowments

Some universities have athletic endowments designated specifically for student-athletes’ financial aid. These endowments can provide additional support to athletes, both in terms of scholarships and other financial resources. Student-athletes should inquire about the availability of these endowments at the institutions they are considering and explore potential opportunities for assistance.

External Scholarships

In addition to institutional scholarships, student-athletes can also explore external scholarship opportunities. There are various organizations and foundations that offer scholarships specifically for athletes. These external scholarships can help supplement any financial gaps and provide additional support for student-athletes pursuing their educational and athletic ambitions.

Redshirt Players

Definition and Purpose

Redshirt players in college football are athletes who participate in team practices and train with the team but do not compete in games during their first year. Redshirting allows players an additional year of eligibility to develop their skills and adjust to the college environment before fully participating in competition.

Implications for Scholarships

Redshirt players typically retain their scholarships during their redshirt year. However, it is important for student-athletes to clarify the terms and conditions of their scholarships with the coaching staff and athletic department. Redshirting can provide an opportunity for athletes to acclimate to the college environment and improve their skills, increasing their chances of earning playing time and potentially a scholarship in the future.

Benefits and Challenges

Redshirting offers numerous benefits, such as an additional year to develop physically, emotionally, and academically. It allows student-athletes to adjust to the demands of college athletics while gaining valuable experience and training. However, the challenges of redshirting include balancing the demands of academics and athletics, staying motivated without the immediate prospect of game time, and managing expectations for the following seasons. Student-athletes should approach redshirting as an opportunity for growth and use the time effectively to enhance their skills and contribute to the team in other ways.

Transfer Students

Scholarship Eligibility for Transfers

For college football players considering transferring to another institution, scholarship eligibility is an important factor to consider. When transferring, student-athletes must go through the NCAA transfer process and meet the eligibility requirements set by the NCAA and the receiving institution. While scholarship opportunities are still available to transfer students, they must adhere to specific regulations and guidelines established by the NCAA.

Impact of NCAA Rules

The NCAA has rules in place to regulate the transfer process and ensure fair competition among member institutions. These rules dictate factors such as when and how often a player can transfer, eligibility requirements, and the potential impacts on scholarship availability. It is crucial for transfer students to familiarize themselves with these rules and seek guidance from the NCAA and their prospective institutions to navigate the transfer process successfully.

Navigating the Transfer Process

Transferring as a college football player involves careful planning and coordination between the current and prospective institutions, coaches, and academic advisors. Student-athletes must communicate their intentions to transfer, submit necessary documentation, and meet deadlines to ensure a smooth transition. Additionally, they should engage in open and honest conversations with coaches to explore scholarship opportunities and understand the expectations and opportunities at the new institution.

Maintaining Scholarships

Academic Requirements

Maintaining a college football scholarship requires student-athletes to prioritize their academics and meet specific academic requirements. Universities and the NCAA typically have minimum GPA requirements that athletes must maintain to retain their scholarships. Additionally, student-athletes must make satisfactory progress towards their degree and adhere to academic policies set by their respective institutions.

Performance Expectations

In addition to academic requirements, student-athletes must meet performance expectations on the field to maintain their scholarships. Coaches expect scholarship athletes to contribute significantly to the team’s success and uphold the standards and values of the program. Consistently poor performance or violations of team rules may impact a student-athlete’s scholarship status.

Consequences for Losing Scholarships

Losing a college football scholarship can have significant consequences for student-athletes, both academically and financially. Student-athletes who lose their scholarships may be responsible for finding alternative means of funding their education and may face challenges in continuing their athletic careers. It is crucial for student-athletes to understand the terms and conditions of their scholarships and actively work towards meeting the requirements to maintain their financial aid. Engaging in open communication with coaches and academic advisors can help mitigate the risk of losing scholarships and provide support and resources to ensure academic and athletic success.

In conclusion, college football scholarships provide opportunities for talented student-athletes to pursue higher education while showcasing their athletic abilities. Understanding the different types of scholarships, how they are awarded, and the requirements for maintaining them is essential for prospective student-athletes and their families. By comprehending the intricacies of college football scholarships, student-athletes can make informed decisions about their academic and athletic careers and strive towards achieving their goals on and off the field.