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The Sports Scholarship Handbook


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The College Board has recently implemented greatest single change in the SAT test since the test began decades ago. The SAT taken by millions of college-bound students now includes a student-written essay. This new section of the test will increase the maximum total score possible to 2400 from the previous maximum of 1600. Other changes include the elimination of word analogies and "quantitative comparisons." In addition there are changes in some of the math subject areas covered and in the kinds of questions asked.

The New SATs and NCAA eligibility
The new SAT understandably has high school students worried. For student athletes the question arises in the context of Division I and II eligibility requirements.  For instance, there is a minimum SAT or ACT score required for initial eligibility in Division II. For Division I initial eligibility there is a sliding scale of test scores and high school grades.

The NCAA has no plans to include the score on the student-written essay at this time. The SAT scores in the NCAA initial eligibility requirements will continue to be the sum of the verbal and math components of the SAT test. They plan to watch the situation and could change the specific eligibility requirements based on experience in scoring the new tests.
New rules reduce financial aid
The U.S. government has adopted new rules on how federal financial aid is calculated. These new rules have increased the "expected family contribution" (EFC) figure calculated from family financial data submitted in the "Free Application for Federal Student Aid" (FAFSA). The result is that many families will now be required to pay significantly more than the previous rules required. These rules will impact need-based college financial aid at most colleges and universities since schools will be required to follow the federal guidelines or give up federally subsidized aid for their students.

News stories about the changes in the FAFSA calculations indicate that the committee that drafted the new rules did not intend such drastic changes in the calculation of need. There may be revisions that adjust the rules, but for now these changes emphasize the importance of sports scholarship aid.
The student athlete's recruiting time-line
Running the race
There are two levels of time-line to be aware of. The first level covers the four years of high school. The second level is the recruiting time-line of an athlete's "recruiting season." The most important thing to remember about these time-lines is that things always end up moving faster than you imagine. Everything that you can accomplish early will enhance your opportunities in the end.

How fast is the pace of recruiting during the senior year? Consider this: the early National Letter of Intent signing period for most sports starts about 8-9 weeks after most high school fall semesters begin. That does not leave much time for coaches to identify their top recruits, call them, meet with them, have the recruit come for an official visit and so on. You must start as early as possible and well before your senior year if you are going to increase your chances of being recruited.

The 4-year time line: Each year in high school there are things a student athlete can do to prepare for college recruiting and college sports. Some of these are as basic as making sure to take all of the courses required for NCAA eligibility. Others include taking the time to learn about colleges and their teams. The Sports Scholarship Handbook has dozens of specific things student athletes can do throughout their high school year to enhance their chances of being recruited as a senior and enhancing your chances of a having a great college sports experience.

There is also a specific time line for a high school senior's recruting year: The specific dates of an athlete's recruiting season will vary somewhat depending on the sport. The details of that calendar have been changed slightly this year by the NCAA. Always consult the most recent NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete for up to date details about the recruiting calendar. Basically, information about a college's program can be sent during the athlete's junior year but the type of information that can be sent is limited by NCAA rules. For most Division I sports, coaches can make one call in March of the junior year. In general the real action in terms of calls from coaches will start July 1 following the athlete's junior year when up to one call per week can be made. In Division II, coaches may start weekly calling June 15th following the junior year. For more complete details of the frequently changing recruiting calendar see the NCAA recruiting calendar.

Throughout the school year there are dates when official visits allowed, there are quiet periods when coaches cannot call, there are specific dates for an "early signing period" for most sports and a "regular signing period." The Sports Scholarship Handbook gives you insight into this time-line and gives you specific ideas about how to navigate it to your advantage. The up to date details of each sport's NCAA recruiting calendar can be found on the NCAA website. Typically, the NCAA Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete has the information in a more readable format.

Consider this: if coaches can start sending you information about their program early in your junior year and can start contacting you near the end of your junior year, that means that they need to know about you earlier. Ideally, coaches need to be following your athletic career and to be learning about your talents before the end of your junior year. How do coaches learn about you? How do they evaluate your abilities? What can you do to bring your interest and talents to their attention? That is what The Sports Scholarship Handbook is all about.