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Learn the Difference Between the NCAA and the NAIA

So You Want to Play College Sports…Important Scholarship Info You Need to Know

If you’re a student athlete aspiring to a scholarship so you can play at the college level while getting your degree, you have a lot to learn. You need to learn how to stand out in a crowd during your high school playing years. You need to learn how to position yourself to be recruited. And you need to learn the difference between the NCAA and the NAIA so you can set your sights on which college athletic association is right for you.

Knowing the difference between the NCAA and the NAIA you will learn valuable information—including how many scholarships are available, where scholarship funding comes from, and the restrictions imposed on the scholarships awarded from each association.

What is the NCAA?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs the athletic programs of approximately 1200 schools. It consists of three divisions (Division I, II, and III) and oversees 23 sports. Divisions I and II offer full and/or partial athletic scholarships. Division III only offers academic or non-athletic scholarships.

What is the NAIA?
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) governs the athletic programs of around 300 schools and 13 sports. The NAIA is a smaller association than the NCAA and includes two divisions (Division I and II). Over 90% of schools in the NAIA offer scholarships.

Which one should I choose?
When looking for an athletic scholarship, remember that there are options in both the NCAA and NAIA. Being educated and knowledgeable on these two associations will help you in your search to find the best college for you.

Typically, eligibility requirements and scholarship rules for the NCAA are stricter than those of the NAIA. For student athletes pursuing a college scholarship, being familiar with these requirements is critical. SPIRE’s coaching staff and college counseling team is available to student athletes and their families who need support and guidance during the college and career planning process.

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