Difference between a Full Scholarship, Partial Scholarship, and Walk-On | 2aDays

Difference between a Full Scholarship, Partial Scholarship, and Walk-On

One of the most frequently asked questions about college sports is how scholarships and financial assistance works. There are varying degrees of financial assistance and classifications that do not guarantee a spot on the team. In this article, we will discuss the differences between a full scholarship, partial scholarship, preferred walk on, and recruited walk on.

Full scholarship
A full ride scholarship for college athletes covers the total cost of tuition, room and board, and other education-related costs. While there are many standout athletes across all sports, it is important to note that a full ride scholarships, or “headcount scholarships” only apply to 6 NCAA sports: football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s gymnastics, tennis, and volleyball. 

It is also important to know that full ride scholarships do not always guarantee 4 years of covered costs, but rather guarantee one year of coverage that is renewed each year based on the athlete’s performance on the field and in the classroom. 

Related: What’s the Difference: Headcount and Equivalency Scholarships

Partial Scholarship
While full scholarships are rare and limited to certain sports, partial scholarships still have a lot to offer student-athletes who excel in their sport. The sports that permit partial scholarships are known as “equivalency sports” and include major sports such as: baseball, soccer, volleyball, track and field, and so much more. 

Partial scholarships do not cover the full cost of attendance and vary from athlete to athlete. Coaches determine how they want to allocate their scholarship money for equivalency sports based on the performance of their recruits and the needs of their team.

Preferred Walk-On
A preferred walk-on is the term used for athletes who are guaranteed a spot on the team, but do not receive any financial assistance. However, preferred walk-ons can obtain financial assistance later in their collegiate career based on their performance and the decision of the coach to allocate their financial resources.

Related: Pros and Cons of Being a Walk-On Athlete

Recruited Walk-On
A recruited walk-on is an athlete who has interest from a coach, but is not guaranteed a spot on the team or financial assistance. Similar to a preferred walk-on, if a recruited walk-on shows up and performs well with the rest of the team, they can earn a spot on the team and even financial assistance if they exceed expectations.

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