NCAA & NAIA Eligibility

Q: Are You Possibly a College-Bound Student-Athlete?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), are two separate governing bodies of college athletics. The NCAA is the governing body for around 1200 schools. It consists of three divisions (Division I, II, and III) and oversees 23 sports. Divisions I and II both offer athletic scholarships, with over 126,000 student-athletes receiving partial or full athletic scholarships. However, Division III student-athletes can only receive academic or non-athletic scholarships – no athletic scholarships are allowed.

The NAIA consists of 300 schools and 13 sports. The NAIA is a smaller association than the NCAA, with just over 60,000 students. It includes two divisions (Division I and II) and Division I in the NAIA is comparable to Division II in the NCAA. Over 90% of schools in the NAIA offer scholarships, and NAIA athletes receive an average of $7,000 of financial aid. However, it is impossible to say how many athletes receive scholarships because the NAIA does not have a central database like the NCAA.

The amount and type of scholarship you receive will depend on, among other things, which association your school is affiliated with and which division within that association your school plays in. Generally speaking, eligibility requirements and scholarship rules for the NCAA are stricter than those of the NAIA. For athletes pursuing a college scholarship, being familiar with these requirements is very important.

NCAA/NAIA eligibility guidelines change often.  It is the responsibility of the student athlete to ensure that they are meeting NCAA/NAIA eligibility requirements.  Even though it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that NCAA/NAIA eligibility requirements are being met, student athletes that plan to play college athletics or are being recruited by colleges for athletics are advised to let their coach, counselor and the athletic director know of these intentions.

Q: How do I prepare to be a college level student athlete?

High school student-athletes considering any possibility of playing a sport collegiately need to take course selection, grade point average (GPA), and test score requirements very seriously. The process starts immediately through enrollment in ninth grade coursework. It is wise for student-athletes to be prepared for future opportunities by tracking their coursework and GPA each semester. Support for this process is critical through collaboration with the student, family, counselor, coaches, and Athletic Directors.

The following information provides an overview of collegiate eligibility regarding core course selection, GPA, and test scores.

More info about NCAA:

Below is a planning timeline if you intend to play NCAA college sports!

NCAA Division I and II Initial-Eligibility Requirements:

Core Courses: 16 core courses in high school are required for any student first entering a Division I or Division II college or university. Courses selected from the district list must be NCAA-approved core courses from your high school’s list. The list for your high school is located at the NCAA Eligibility center’s website (



16 Core Courses:

4 years of English

3 years of mathematics

    (Algebra I or higher)

2 years of natural/physical science

    (1 year of lab if offered by high school)

1 year of additional English, mathematics

    or natural/physical science

2 years of social science

4 years of additional courses (from any

    area above, foreign language or

    nondoctrinal religion/philosophy)



16 Core Courses:

3 years of English

2 years of mathematics (Algebra I or  higher)

2 years of natural/physical science (1 year of lab if offered by high school)

3 years of additional English, mathematics

or natural/physical science

2 years of social science

4 years of additional courses (from any

area above, foreign language or nondoctrinal religion/philosophy)

GPA: Core GPA must be a minimum of 2.3 for Division 1, 2.0 for Division II

Test Scores: SAT score must be a minimum of 820 (NCAA includes only the critical reading and math sections; writing section of SAT is not used. ACT sum score must be a minimum of 68 from the following four sections: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science

**When you register for the SAT or ACT, use the NCAA Eligibility Center code of 9999 to ensure all SAT and ACT Scores are reported directly to the NCAA Eligibility Center. Test Scores that appear on transcripts will not be used.

**If you’re an aspiring college athlete looking for a scholarship, it is not only important to know how to get recruited and the best ways to stand out, but also which athletic association is best for you.

Q: Which SHHS courses are NCAA approved?   

Check them out here. USE the CEEB code: 172810

More resources from the NCAA eligibility center.

A guide to playing NCAA sports

NCAA Eligibility Center

NCAA Eligibility Course WS

More info about NAIA:

The NAIA Eligibility Center is responsible for determining the NAIA eligibility of first-time student-athletes. If you are interested in playing in the NAIA, you can register on their website at Any student playing NAIA sports for the first time must meet the eligibility requirements. Students must have their eligibility determined by the NAIA Eligibility Center, and all NAIA schools are bound by the Center’s decisions. Students interested in participating in athletics at an NAIA institution are required to satisfy two of the three following requirements.

Test Scores: Achieve a minimum of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT

GPA: Achieve a minimum overall high school GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale

Class Rank: Graduate in the top half of your high school class

Students who have completed their junior year of high school with an overall 3.00 GPA on a 4.00 scale, plus the minimum test scores required (18 ACT or 860 SAT), may receive an eligibility decision early in the senior year. Go to ( for additional information.

More resources from the NAIA eligibility center.

NAIA Colleges

NAIA Eligibility Center