How New NCAA Rules are Affecting Scholarship Offers

by SwimSwam 11

January 25th, 2016 College, College Recruiting, News

A couple of years ago the NCAA changed its rules to allow coaches to guarantee scholarships beyond the first year. Some coaches do and some don’t. If a coach doesn’t offer a guarantee, then you need to ask. Guarantees should be listed on the scholarship agreement form.

Usually, but not always it is pretty rare for a coach to take away scholarship money unless the swimmer breaks rules.

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 (mainly for international students)?
  • 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.
  • Some coaches will offer a scholarship in a dollar amount and some will offer as a percentage. A dollar amount sounds good, but that remains fixed as the cost of school goes up. Ask the coach if the scholarship could be listed as a percentage.
  • Keep in mind that a first offer may not be the best offer.
  • Verbal commitments are not binding, but in 15 years of running American College Connection I have only had one coach renege on his offer.

Here is a sample of a scholarship offer by a D-I coach. He spells out the offer and cost to the recruit very well. You, your parents and the coach must have an understanding of your approximate cost to attend the school.

Notice that the first year offer is for a full, but the coach lists part of the first year scholarship as a “Signing Bonus.”

Out of State Resident (on Campus)

  • Tuition:                                 $18,508
  • Rec Fees:                              $200
  • Room and Board:                $8,890
  • Total Cost to attend:         $28,398


  • Laptop Award: given on arrival
  • Athletic Scholarship: $15,619 (roughly 55%) ^Year 1, Year 2, Year 3, Year 4
  • Athletic Scholarship Signing bonus $12,779  (roughly 45%) ^Year 1 ONLY (Total: 100% Athletic Scholarship YEAR 1 ONLY)

Total Cost to you:

  • ^Year 1= $0
  • Year 2= $12,779
  • Year 3= $12,779
  • Year 4= $12,779

inding 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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Coach Mike 1952

Excellent points. Might want to get potential 5th year scholarship commitment in writing if/as applicable.

Rick Paine

Thanks Coach Mike, I don’t think the 5th year can be put in writing because it is not considered an athletic scholarship.

Hearst Pool

If Big Ten and PAC-12 schools are now required to guarantee scholarships for four years, how has that affected the initial scholarship amount (% or actual $s) offered? Would assume the initial amount offered is lower than previously since it can be increased but not lowered.

Rick Paine

That is correct. Coaches are still deciding how to use the guarantee to their benefit. One of our boys received an offer from a big time D-I program that included 100% in his first year and 25% in the next three years guaranteed. I spoke with his dad and gave him suggestions on how to ask the coach to re-work the scholarship so that it was more affordable over the 4 years. The coach agreed and later told me that he had extra money for next year and that is why he offer the full for the first year. We both agreed that the swimmer was not fast enough to normally get a full from a program like this. It… Read more »

College Coach

This recent change is actually hurting a large portion of student-athletes particularly in sports like swimming where partial scholarships are given. At our University we often reward athletes (usually for athletic, academic, or leadership reasons) by giving them a one year increase or an increase at semester with whatever money remained after the recruiting season. The new rule change does not allow you to increase and go back to the initial scholarship so it’s ultimately hurting our lower scholarship athletes. In order to give them an increase you dip into your recruiting budget for the years to come.

Rick Paine

I want to make sure I understand this. The NCAA rules don’t allow you to increase a scholarship in the second-fourth years once it is guaranteed? So a swimmer who is on a guaranteed 50% scholarship in their second year can’t get it increased in her second year if she performs?
Thanks for the info


I think what college coach is saying is that once he or she does a one year bump, it can’t go back down. Say you give a swimmer 25% her first year. In her second year, the team has some extra scholarship money so the coach bumps her up to 50%. In her third year, the coach can’t bring her back down to 25%. At least that’s how I understand what College Coach is saying.

Rick Paine

Thanks, I think your interpretation is correct, but I will double check to make sure that is the case. It was my understanding that the guarantee went from year to year.