Does Division 3 Give Athletic Scholarships?

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College athletic programs provide bountiful opportunities for student athletes to pursue their passion for sport as well as thought. The NCAA’s three divisions deliver student athletes with a variety of options, each featuring unique rules, levels of commitment, and experiences. For example, there are no Division III athletic scholarships compared to Division I, where more than half of student athletes receive athletic aid.

 

Overview of Division III

 

Division III focuses on delivering a balanced college experience to its student athletes—placing equal importance on athletics, academics, and college life. On the field, Division III is about the experience of student athletes, rather than generating revenue or entertaining spectators as it is in the other NCAA divisions. 

 

Because D3 athletics focus on student experience, practice and in-season play are designed to minimally interfere with other aspects of college life, which is great, if, for example, you want to play soccer but also write for the school paper, actively participate in a club, and/or pursue a double major. Furthering the diverse college experience are the schools that makeup Division III—the largest D3 school has 25,725 undergraduates and the smallest has just 285. While largely consisting of private schools, roughly one in five is a public institution. 

 

D3 is often overshadowed by well-known Division I and II programs; however, it’s the largest division in terms of both participating colleges and students. Division III is home to more than 400 institutions and almost 200,000 competitors—on average, student-athletes comprise 25% of the student body at Division III institutions. 

 

One key difference between D3 and the other two NCAA divisions is that there are no D3 athletic scholarships, while approximately 60% of D1 and D2 athletes receive athletic aid. However, it’s worth noting that 80% of student athletes in D3 receive non-athletic aid.  

 

Can You Get Athletic Scholarships at D3 Schools?

 

Does Division III give athletic scholarships? The answer is no. D3 schools do not provide aid for athletics. But just because D3 schools don’t provide athletic scholarships doesn’t mean that they aren’t affordable or a great option—as mentioned above, more than 80% of student athletes receive some form of non-athletic aid, such as need-based or academic. 

 

Because Division III institutions are competing for top talent against other schools in their division, along with institutions in the other divisions, it’s not unheard of for a D3 school to present the most affordable option at the end of the day. Additionally, 87% of D3 athletes graduate college, giving them an advantage when they enter the workforce—median career earnings for a graduate with a bachelor’s degree are roughly 70% higher than for someone with some college but no degree. 

 

How to Get Scholarships at D3 Schools

 

Although you can’t get a Division III athletic scholarship, there are a handful of ways to receive aid at D3 institutions. 

 

Apply to D3 Schools with the Best Financial Aid

 

One way student athletes can lower the cost of college is to apply to schools that offer the best financial aid. There are a handful of colleges (listed in the table below) with D3 athletic programs that meet 100% of demonstrated need with no loans. These generous schools allow students to graduate without incurring student loan debt.   

 

School 

Location 

Acceptance Rate

Amherst College

Amherst, MA 

13%

Bowdoin College

Brunswick, ME

10%

Colby College

Waterville, ME

13%

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Cambridge, MA

7%

Pomona College

Claremont, CA

8%

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, PA

9%

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL

7%

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, VA

21%

 

One thing the small number of schools that meet 100% of demonstrated need without loans have in common is that they’re all extremely selective, and student athletes will need a strong profile to gain admission. With that said, your personal chances of acceptance may be higher or lower depending on your profile. 

 

If you’re curious what your odds are at one of these benevolent institutions, CollegeVine can help. Our free chancing engine uses factors like GPA, test scores, and extracurricular activities to predict your odds of admission at over 600 schools in the U.S. 

 

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

 

Win Merit Scholarships

 

While Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, many do provide merit scholarships, which are awards that reward other qualities, such as academic performance, artistic skill, and test scores. Since D3 schools do not devote resources to athletic scholarships, in many cases, they have more funding available to finance other types of aid. Below are just some of the awesome merit aid opportunities available at D3 colleges.

 

School 

Location 

Acceptance Rate

Merit Scholarships 

Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, PA

34%

  • Bryn Mawr Merit Scholarship

Claremont McKenna College

Claremont, CA 

9%

  • McKenna Scholars
  • Seaver Scholars

Connecticut College

New London, CT

38%

  • Founders Scholarship
  • Trustee Scholarship
  • Deans Scholarship
  • 1911 Scholarship
  • Shain Scholarship
  • Thames Scholarship
  • Horizon Scholarship

Emory University 

Oxford, GA

19%

  • Emory University Scholar Programs

Harvey Mudd College

Claremont, CA

14%

  • President’s Scholars Program
  • Harvey S. Mudd Merit Award
  • National Merit Scholarship
  • FIRST Robotics Scholarship
  • RIF Scholarship
  • Esterbrook Merit Award
  • VEX Scholarship

Kenyon College 

Gambier, OH 

36%

  • Kenyon Honor, Science and Trustee Opportunity 
  • Distinguished Academic
  • Newman’s Own Foundation Scholarships
  • Kenyon Promise Scholarship
  • National Merit Scholarship
  • Studio Art Scholarship
  • Music Scholarships
  • Kenyon Writing Award
  • S. Georgia Nugent Award in Creative Writing

Mount Holyoke College

South Hadley, MA 

51%

  • Trustee Scholarship
  • 21st Century Scholars
  • Chin Scholars

Oberlin College

Oberlin, OH

36%

  • Oberlin Commitment Scholarship
  • Conservatory Dean’s Awards 
  • John F. Oberlin Scholarships (College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Oberlin College National Merit Scholarships and National Achievement Scholarships

Skidmore College 

Saratoga Springs, NY 

27%

  • Filene Music Scholarships
  • Porter/Wachenheim Scholarships in Science and Mathematics

Tufts University 

Medford, MA 

15%

  • Tufts National Merit Scholarship

 

How Much Will College Cost Your Family?

 

It’s important to remember that sticker price is often not an accurate representation of what college will ultimately cost. Net price—the actual cost after grants and scholarships are accounted for—is a much more precise indication of the expense of attending college. While many Division III schools have high price tags, they also frequently have generous merit aid awards. Consequently, a D3 school with a high sticker price can cost less than an in-state public school when all is said and done. 

 

CollegeVine can help you decipher the cost of college. Our free financial aid calculator is designed to take the mystery out of the expense of higher education, showing college-bound students how to maximize financial aid and understand their investment in college.

 

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Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.

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