Many Division III institutions do provide financial aid to student athletes. They do it in the same manner that they provide money to ALL of their students, athletes and non-athletes alike, by recognizing academic performance and providing academic scholarships. While many schools and institutions would award financial aid based solely on the athlete's contribution to the team, others may consider other factors such as family income, location of school, etc.
The most common form of financial aid for athletes is the athletic scholarship. An athletic scholarship is given out by a school to an athlete who wishes to continue playing sports for them. The amount of the grant can vary greatly but is usually provided directly by the institution to which the athlete is attending class.
Some schools will also provide need-based awards called "loans". These are similar to grants in that the student athlete does not have to pay them back but they must be paid off before other types of loans or scholarships are applied.
Division III schools tend to be smaller than their larger counterparts and this often results in more personal attention from faculty members. This means that students may receive better guidance on what resources are available to them and how to use them, helping them achieve their full potential as scholars first and athletes second.
With over 190,000 student-athletes, Division III colleges do not provide athletically linked financial assistance; nonetheless, the majority of student-athletes get some type of academic grant or need-based scholarship. In addition, most schools will give certain non-revenue sports scholarships that can't be used for athletics expenses such as tuition, fees, and books. These are called "non-athletic" grants or scholarships and are usually need-based.
At D-I schools, almost all athletic funds are tied to a student-athlete's eligibility to play a particular sport. Thus, if a student-athlete drops a sport, their funding will typically drop with them. This is not always the case, however: some coaches may have more discretion in distributing athletic funds, while others may even be required by school policy to maintain a minimum level of funding for each player regardless of sport involvement.
The amount of money a school gives out in grants or loans depends on several factors, including the size of the program, the number of students who participate in intercollegiate athletics, the cost of education at the school, and the availability of funds from other sources. For example, large research universities tend to give out larger amounts of money than smaller institutions.
According to Randolph, Division III institutions do not provide sports scholarships, but they do provide other types of financial help. Extracurricular activities such as athletics are frequently considered by schools when giving merit scholarships, she says. "These Division III institutions have athletic teams, and they want good athletes," she explains. "They're looking for people who will add to the culture of their school and who won't detract from it."
In addition to providing assistance through athletics, these schools also offer academic awards. Students can receive medals for excellence in specific subjects, such as mathematics or science. Some institutions even provide full tuition scholarships based on academic performance.
Finally, some schools offer special donations scholarship funds. The amount of each donation is determined at the school's discretion. Donations may be given in honor of someone, such as a former athlete or student leader. Or they may be given annually, like the principal's scholarship at Bergen Catholic High School in New Jersey.
The important thing is that students understand that all schools are different. Even though most Division III schools don't provide sports scholarships, they do offer many other forms of assistance. It's up to each individual student to explore all his or her options before making a decision about what type of school would best fit his or her needs.