What Parents Should Know for Getting the Best Tennis Scholarship

Tennis Scholarships

A tennis scholarship to a great university is the ideal way for a young tennis player to finance his or her education while also pursuing the love of the game. Fortunately, many top-tier universities across the country provide ample tennis scholarships for older teens. Although there are several national scholarship associations, most tennis scholarships are ultimately granted by individual universities. A student’s eligibility for these scholarships is based on many things, including skill level, competitive history, high school GPA, standardized test scores and extracurricular activities.

Although most scholarships require high GPA’s and test scores, there are opportunities available for students without a perfect academic record and students attending junior college, as well. For teens and their families interested in tennis scholarships, the following organizations and foundations offer annual scholarship opportunities to students at a variety of schools. Contact your school’s athletic department for more information:

NCAA Scholarships

By far one of the largest scholarship opportunities for teens, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) awards over $1 billion in full and partial athletic scholarships on a yearly basis. These scholarships are granted to undergraduate students at Division I and Division II schools. In order to qualify for these scholarships, teens must meet the minimum NCAA standards, which include requirements for minimum GPAs and baseline standardized test scores. Since individual institutions award NCAA scholarships, interested families can contact the school’s athletic department to find out more about NCAA scholarship opportunities and eligibility.

NJCAA Scholarships

For teens attending junior college, National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) scholarships are a fantastic option. The NJCAA offers full and partial scholarships to talented student athletes with a strong competitive history and positive academic record. Since these scholarships are limited, with only fourteen scholarships offered annually at both Division I and Division II schools, interested teens should apply through their school’s athletic department as soon as they know they are interested.

NAIA Scholarships

Although there are not as many National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) scholarships as there are NCAA scholarships, the NAIA requirements are less strict, so these scholarships are a great option for teens who might be lacking some of the NCAA requirements. In order to qualify for NAIA scholarships, teens need to meet at least two of the following criteria: minimum ACT score of 18 or, alternately, minimum SAT score of 860, minimum 2.0 GPA or graduation standing in the top half of graduating class. NAIA scholarships are offered to student athletes at both Division I and Division II schools and, since there are not many annual NAIA scholarships, interested teens should apply as soon as possible.

College-Based Scholarships

Most colleges have funds in the form of scholarships and endowments that have been established within their tennis programs by previous alumni or external foundations. These funds are generally available to student athletes playing on varsity or club teams and can be a wonderful way to fund a college education. Although these scholarships are not as expansive as larger, national programs, the funds awarded to individual players are often quite large. In order to learn more about college-based scholarships, interested teens should contact the school’s athletic and financial aid departments in order to determine the availability of scholarships and student eligibility.

State-Based Foundations and Associations

If your teen is part of a state tennis association, it is possible the association may award a tennis scholarship in order to help him or her continue playing tennis in college. In Texas, the Texas Tennis and Education Foundation awards high school students entering college and college students in good academic standing with tennis scholarships of at least $1,000. Many state organizations also provide tennis camp scholarships for older teens that want to perfect their game before applying to a college team. If your teen is interested in state-based foundation and association scholarship opportunities, contact your local tennis foundation for further information.

Minority/Underserved National Scholarships

For student athletes that represent a minority or underserved population, there are several choice scholarships available. Many of these scholarships are aimed at increasing multicultural presence on tennis courts and often extend to student athletes that represent ethnic or racial minority populations. Additionally, there are scholarships available to students from low-income backgrounds, student athletes who are in wheelchairs and “emerging” student athletes who show great promise for the game. Contact your university of choice and local tennis foundation to learn more about these opportunities.

For parents who want to pursue more college scholarship information, free scholarship searches at sites like scholarships.com can be a helpful resource. Older teens that are considering entering college on a tennis scholarship are in luck as there are literally dozens of tennis scholarships available to student athletes of most abilities, grade levels and geographical locations.

Additionally, prospective students would be wise to explore grants and awards as possible means of financing their educations. The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) offers a wide variety of grants to help perpetuate the game of tennis in every way. Young players or prospective college students may find grants available through USTA that can help fund their college education, equipment needs, entrance fees and camp or travel expenses. Since grant money, like scholarship funds, is money that does not need to be paid back, prospective students should explore grant funds as an additional means of financing their college educations in the event that scholarships fall short.

Once your teen has decided which universities he or she is interested in, contact the athletic department of those universities to determine which scholarships they offer and how many of them your teen is eligible for. It is important to remember that tennis scholarships are in high demand and interested parties should apply as soon as possible in order to avoid missing out on important scholarship funds.