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Requirements for Athletes

Colleges are affiliated with athletic associations that have their own rules, regulations, and eligibility requirements. Basic eligibility for the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA are outlined below.


Division I and II colleges can offer athletic scholarships; Division III colleges (mostly smaller, private colleges) cannot.  Before an athlete can play a sport or receive a scholarship at a Division I or II college, he/she must meet NCAA’s academic requirements.  Division III athletes do not need to meet NCAA academic requirements.

Athletes who want to go to a Division I college must have at least a 2.0 GPA in a specific number of core courses.  They must also have the required SAT or ACT score.  ACT/SAT requirements for Division I eligibility are based on a sliding scale.  The higher the core GPA, the lower the test score required. A student with a 2.0 GPA, for example, will be required to have a much higher test score that a student with a 3.0 core GPA.  Division II athletes need a 2.0 GPA in their core courses and the required minimum ACT or SAT score.

Athletes should meet with their counselor as early as possible to discuss NCAA requirements and to make sure that they’re taking the right courses.  Athletes should also take the ACT and the SAT in the spring of their junior year. To initiate the eligibility process, athletes need to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse. This should be done after their junior year. www.ncaa.org.


NAIA colleges can award full or partial scholarships.  To play a sport or receive an athletic scholarship, an athlete must meet 2 of the following 3 NAIA requirements: 1) have the required ACT or SAT score, 2) have an overall 2.0 GPA, 3) graduate in the top half of his/her class. www.naia.org.


Division I and II junior colleges can offer athletic scholarships; Division III colleges cannot.  There are no academic eligibility requirements for athletes entering junior colleges. www.njcaa.org.