You and your athlete have spent your entire life preparing and dreaming of this moment. You have spent more hours than you can imagine watching your child play baseball from t-ball through multiple showcases and now in high school. You’ve put countless miles on your car traveling to every tournament. Now, your child is receiving scholarship offers to play baseball in college.
Your excitement is palpable, but the offers are very confusing. How do you know what the offers mean? Which offer is best for your athlete?
A good baseball scholarship offer is one that best fits your athlete and your family. This will vary for each athlete depending on the family’s financial status and the cost of attendance at the college. We’ll begin by developing a basic understanding of baseball scholarships and move into breaking down the different segments of a scholarship before finishing by looking at the different types of scholarship offers.
Understand A Baseball Scholarship
Baseball scholarships are different from other sports such as football and basketball as baseball scholarships are known as “equivalency scholarships”. This means that the total amount of scholarships are divided among 27 players.
There are also far fewer baseball scholarships compared to the other major sports. Let’s take a look at the number of scholarships and the length of each scholarship.
Number of Scholarships
College baseball has a maximum of 11.7 scholarships per team in NCAA Division I and 9 scholarships per team in NCAA Division II. NCAA Division III schools are unable to give athletic scholarships and can only offer academic scholarships.
NAIA teams have a maximum of 12 baseball scholarships while junior college teams that compete in the NJCAA can award 24 scholarships for baseball.
Why am I using the word maximum when talking about the number of scholarships? That’s because not every school will fund all available scholarships for baseball. For example, an NCAA Division I school can offer 11.7 scholarships, but the school will only provide enough funding for 8 scholarships so that team’s coach will only be able to have 8 players on athletic scholarship on their team.
I mentioned earlier that baseball is an equivalency sport where NCAA teams have 11.7 scholarships maximum to divide among 27 players. What is the minimum amount of a baseball scholarship that a school can award to a player?
That’s a great question and the answer is 25 percent. A school offering a baseball player a scholarship must award a minimum of 25 percent of a full scholarship. I will discuss what is included in full scholarships in the Types of Offers segment.
Length of Scholarships
We’ve talked about how a school in NCAA has a maximum of only 11.7 baseball scholarships to award and they are divided by 27 players. So if your child gets a baseball scholarship for his freshman season, he is at least guaranteed that scholarship for all four years right?
Athletic scholarships are only good for one year and must be awarded again for each year that your athlete is playing for that school.
I talked in the above section about how some schools will not fund all 11.7 scholarships. This can vary from year to year. For example, if your athlete’s school funds all 11.7 scholarships this season, they may only fund 10 scholarships next year.
This means that there will be up to 7 players who will not have a scholarship for next year if they were receiving a 25 percent scholarship.
This also works the other way. A coach may ask your athlete to walk on this season because he only has 9 scholarships funded this season, but the school has promised funding for 2 extra scholarships the next season and your child could get part of those scholarships.
It’s important to remember that nothing is guaranteed unless it is in writing. If you don’t have anything official written and signed by the coach, your athlete isn’t guaranteed one of the scholarships after their walk-on year.
Now that we understand how many scholarships each team can award and that each scholarship is only guaranteed for one year, it’s time to delve deeper into what a scholarship entails.
There are three segments in a scholarship:
- Tuition and Fees
Let’s take a look at each segment and see exactly what is included in each segment.
Tuition and Fees
According to bigfuture.collegeboard.org, the biggest part of costs in college is tuition. Tuition is the price the college charges you to pay for classes. Tuition and fees are different at each college so it’s important you understand the total tuition costs for a school.
It’s unlikely that any baseball player will receive a scholarship that covers the full cost of college with so few scholarships available, so financial aid and assistance may be necessary for your athlete to attend college to play baseball.
One area young adults overlook when talking about athletic scholarships are the cost of books to attend school. Books are very expensive and can cost from $500 or more for most schools.
Even in the electronic age, some classes require hard copy books for the students. Even if the book is electronic, there will still be a price that will be charged for your child to purchase the book for their class.
Outside of tuition and fees, board is usually the biggest cost for attending a college away from home. Most colleges have athletic dorms and some coaches require all athletes to stay in the dorms regardless of where they live.
Board also consists of a meal plan. Most colleges charge different fees depending on how many meals a week an athlete will receive from the school’s dining facility.
This can be a very large financial hit for a family who’s athlete is a baseball player with so few scholarships available. Make sure you understand what is included in the boarding costs.
For example, some schools provide washers and dryers for their students for free while some schools charge for those services.
Types of Offers
We’ve taken a look at the segments of a scholarship, so how many ways can a scholarship be divided? There are five different types of offers an athlete can receive for a baseball scholarship.
- Full Ride
- Flat Amount
- Percentage of Segment
- Combination Athletic and Academic
A full-ride scholarship will cover all three segments: tuition and fees, books, and board.
While this is the type of scholarship that most people think that exists, this is also the least likely scholarship for a baseball player.
A baseball player who is offered a full ride from a college will also likely be drafted very high in the Major League Baseball Draft and will be offered millions of dollars to skip school and enter the professional ranks.
A percentage scholarship is a percentage of a full ride.
For example, let’s say the total cost for all three segments (tuition and fees, books, board) at a school is $50,000. A coach offers you a scholarship for 50% of a full ride. This means the school will cover $25,000 and the athlete will need to cover the remaining $25,000 to attend that university.
While this is a little more common than a full ride, a percentage scholarship usually takes a big cut out of a team’s allotted scholarship amount and is typically only offered to the very best high school players.
A flat amount scholarship is one where the athlete is offered a specific dollar amount of the cost.
For example, let’s use the total cost of $50,000 dollars from the previous offer. In a flat amount offer, the coach offers your child a $15,000 scholarship. This is a flat amount and will usually be placed towards tuition and fees.
The athlete would be responsible for the remaining $35,000 a year to attend that college and play baseball.
The flat amount scholarships are very common offers from baseball coaches.
Percentage of Segment
A percentage of a segment scholarship is where a player is offered a certain percentage to cover only one segment of a scholarship.
For example, the coach offers to cover 50 percent of tuition and fees. The athlete will be responsible for paying for the remaining 50 percent of tuition and fees along with the total amount of books and board.
This is where scholarship offers become tricky. Some coaches try to be coy when offering a percentage of a segment scholarship to an athlete because this offer doesn’t cover much of the cost.
If your baseball player is offered a “percentage” from a coach, make sure the coach is clear about whether the offer is a percentage of a full ride or a percentage of a segment.
Some players have arrived at college believing that they have a 50 percent scholarship for the total cost when the only thing the coach had on paper was 50 percent coverage of books.
Combination Athletic and Academic
A combination athletic and academic scholarship is pretty straight forward. In this scholarship, the baseball player is awarded a percentage athletic scholarship and an academic scholarship.
For example, the coach presents an offer of 50 percent board for an athletic scholarship and then the school offers a 50 percent academic scholarship which covers tuition and fees.
The athlete would be responsible to cover the remaining 50 percent of tuition and fees along with 50 percent of the cost of boarding along with the total cost of books.
This type of offer is the most common in baseball scholarships. It is important that you stress grades to your athlete from a young age because a school can usually offer a large academic scholarship.
How many total college baseball scholarships are usually available in a year?
There are a maximum total of 5,400 baseball scholarships available in a year when you combine NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NAIA, and NJCAA teams.
How many colleges have a baseball program as part of their athletic department?
Between NCAA Division I, NCAA Division II, NAIA, and junior colleges, there are 1,654 college baseball programs.