KPB Blog

Making Sense of Your Scholarship Offer

There are a number of different ways that college coaches will explain scholarship offers. Most of the time, they will word the offer in terminology that makes it sounds like the best deal possible. In the moment, you will likely be excited and it might be difficult to think of clarifying questions or even comprehend what the offer really means. Before agreeing to the offer,  you’ll definitely want to make sure you understand what part of your college expenses that you and your family will be responsible for paying and other important details. 

In this article, we explain how to make sense of your scholarship offer and how to understand some of the terminology you might hear to describe an offer.

Baseball Scholarship Overview

For NCAA purposes, a full scholarship covers 100% of the total estimated cost of attendance. Division 1 programs have 11.7 full scholarships to split among their players each season and Division 2 programs have 9. Division 3 programs don’t offer athletic aid.

Depending on the conference, junior college programs may have scholarship money available. NAIA programs can offer a maximum of 12 baseball scholarships.

You can find out more about scholarship limits and rules for each level of college baseball here. Scholarship offers do not impact financial aid (as long as you are not making more money than estimated cost of attendance), and players on baseball scholarships can still receive academic money. NIL money is separate from scholarships. 

College Expense Breakdown- Understanding “Cost of Attendance”

Coaches will have a sheet detailing a breakdown of expenses for each incoming student so they can make offers and balance their NCAA scholarship numbers. These are the costs you will need so you can calculate how much you and your family are accountable for covering after the scholarship. It’s important to pay attention to the TOTAL estimated costs in the tables below. The sheet will look something like this: 

In-State Newcomer 
Type  Amount  Equivalency (%) 
Tuition  $10,000  .50 
Fees  $500  .025 
Room  $4,500  .225 
Board  $4,000  .20 
Books  $1,000  .05 
Total Estimated Cost  $20,000  1.00 
Out-of-State Newcomer 
Type  Amount  Equivalency (%) 
Tuition  $22,000  .68 
Fees  $1000  .03 
Room  $4,500  .14 
Board  $4,000  .12 
Books  $1,000  .03 
Total Estimated Cost  $32,500  1.00 

Note:  For the following offers, we will assume that you are an  In-State Newcomer  for NCAA purposes.

Let’s look at 5 different descriptions of scholarship offers you might hear: 

Scholarship Offer Descriptions

*For each example below, we will use the $20,000 total cost of attendance described above.*

#1: The Percentage Offer 

Example: “We can offer you a 55% baseball scholarship.” 

What it would mean:  That school will cover 55% of your total cost of attendance. That would be an $11,000 scholarship and you and your family would be responsible for covering the remaining $9,000. 

#2: The Flat Rate Offer 

Example: “We can offer you a $15,000 baseball scholarship.” 

What it would mean: That school will give you $15,000 towards your total cost of attendance. You and your family are responsible for covering the remaining $5,000. 

#3: The Percentage of the Percentage Offer 

Example: “We can cover 80% of your tuition costs.” 

What it would mean: This is where things can get tricky and scholarships might sound like more than they really are. What the coach is saying that your baseball scholarship will cover 80% of your tuition costs. In this case, 80% of $10,000 tuition would mean an $8,000 baseball scholarship. That is a 40% total scholarship, or .40 against the NCAA scholarship cap. You and your family are responsible for covering the remaining $12,000. 

#4: The Combination Offer 

Example: “We can offer you a 90% scholarship combining your baseball and academic money.” 

What it would mean: First you would have to find out what amount is coming from each source of money. This only matters because certain types of scholarship money might only be available to freshmen, or could be contingent on making certain grades or meeting certain qualifications. You will want to be aware of these kinds of requirements  as you plan for the future. They can become traps and make it hard for you to stay in school. Besides these potential pitfalls and making sure that all the scholarship money will be renewable year-to-year, this means that between your baseball and academic scholarships, the school will cover $18,000. You will be responsible for the remaining $2,000. If all the money is renewable year to year and there are no requirements that you might not meet, it doesn’t matter where the money comes from, that is a great deal!  

#5: The Next Year Offer 

Example: “We don’t have any scholarship money left for this year, but we will give you a 25% scholarship next year.” 

What it would mean: Some coaches make these types of arrangements when they reach their scholarships cap or can’t find scholarship room for a player’s freshman year. Be careful with these types of deals! There are multi-year financial aid agreements that you can sign which make such deals binding, and you will want to make sure you sign one of these. If you don’t sign a multi-year financial aid agreement cementing the deal for the following year, the guarantee is only as good as the coach’s word. While some of these verbal agreements work out, there are also horror stories of agreements that don’t. Things to consider on verbal agreements: What if the coach goes to a different school? What if you have a bad year? Will he still get the money? As we said, this type of deal can work out fine, but we also know that things can change quickly and nothing is ever fully guaranteed. Make sure you sign an agreement that has been very carefully reviewed by your family. 

Clarifying Questions for Coaches

Now that you have a better understanding of what your scholarship offer means, we will leave you with some clarifying questions you may want to ask so you have the facts you need to make an educated college baseball decision. 

  • Is this offer guaranteed for 4 years? 
  • What happens if school gets more expensive? Will my scholarship go up as well? 
  • Do I need to meet certain GPA or academic standards to keep my athletic or academic scholarship in the future? 
  • Will my scholarship still be honored if I get hurt before I get to campus and can’t play?
  • How often do you decrease/increase scholarships from year-to-year? 
  • Do you have any NIL money available?

Make sure to pick up where this article leaves off by reading the follow up article, A Step-by-Step Guide to Comparing Multiple Offers.