4 Questions To Ask Prior to Signing Your National Letter of Intent

by SwimSwam 10

April 10th, 2015 Club, College, Opinion

Contributor, Rick Paine, is an expert on college swimming and the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection (ACC). ACC is a SwimSwam Partner.

The regular signing period is right around the corner (begins April 15 and goes through August 1). Swimmers and especially parents use the term “signing” very loosely. “Signing” refers to the National Letter of Intent which is the swimmer’s binding commitment to attend a school in exchange for an “Athletic Grant in Aid”.

A NLI is only issued if some form of athletic scholarship is provided. D-I and D-II schools are the only ones who provide an NLI.

NAIA schools have their own version.

Here are some questions we have all of our swimmers ask before they put their “John Hancock” on the National Letter of Intent.

Before you sign ask the following questions:


What is the school’s policy on 5th year aid? It may take 5 years to complete the degree, but the swimming scholarship only goes for 4 years. Schools are allowed to pay for the 5th year, but I suggest asking up front.


If there is not a full scholarship offered, ask about what it would take to get a scholarship increase after the first year.


Will the school pay for health insurance?


Where does the team go for Christmas training and who pays? This is not negotiable, but it could be an expense. A school is not allowed to pay for expenses for one swimmer and not the rest of the team.

If you were not offered an athletic scholarship you can still have an official signing at your school. We suggest that you sign your housing documents or some schools will offer a letter of commitment that recruits can sign.

Congratulations, you are about to embark on 4 of the most exciting years of your life as a college swimmer. Nothing else in life compares to being part of a college athletic team.

Finding out if you have what it takes to compete in swimming at the college level is easy, and many swimmers do have the potential considering all of the options. Go to www.ACCrecruits and submit a Free Profile.

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#4 is important. My sons team led us to believe their trip to Hawaii was all-expenses paid. First communication received as a parent during his freshman year was an $800 bill for the trip. They should have said 75% expenses paid.

The health insurance question is interesting. If paid, is this part of the scholarship?

Health insurance is not part of a scholarship, but schools are “allowed” to pay for it. Some do and some don’t, but you won’t know until you ask.


We just took a campus visit and were able to meet with the coaches of a small D1 program. They were very up front about expectations, working around class schedules, study hall/tutors etc. They also laid out the training trip, and what the team covered and didn’t (athletes pay for air fare to and from Fla). They covered scholarship possibility, but it sounded like it was based on where they anticipated the swimmer placing at conference champs. That was a little confusing, saying money could increase as swimmer got better. Overall, a very enjoyable meeting.


Good stuff – note the training trip item applies to D3 as well.
I would add a #5 about roster size. How many swimmers go to the conference meet? What do the swimmers who don’t make the conference meet taper for? How many swimmers participate in away meets?

Good points OSD. We have our swimmers ask those questions long before they start considering scholarship offers from specific schools. I wanted this article to be about finances and potential costs.

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