I run across this question from a lot of parents yesterday and wanted to address it. This is a very simplified definition of each division but it contains the important information all parents and athletes want to know.
How Division 1 Basketball Scholarships Work
In women’s basketball, division 1 schools have the opportunity to offer a maximum of 15 full ride athletic women’s basketball scholarships per school. Not every school has the budget to offer 15 full ride scholarships at the D1 level.
I know a few low major division 1 schools who only have 8 full ride scholarships to offer because of budgetary reasons. I find that most have somewhere around 12 or 13 full ride scholarships to offer. The amount of scholarships available out of the 15 vary from institution to institution and is usually not public record on the exact number.
The scholarships are a year to year contract and they do not have to be renewed. The NCAA says a player cannot be cut from a team for athletically related reasons, but if you suck on the court at this level you will probably get the boot after 1 year regardless of the circumstance. Just being honest. While basketball is a medium for you to get your education for free, it is also a business for college coaches and their lifeline to feed their family.
How Division 2 Basketball Scholarships Work
In women’s basketball, division 2 schools have the opportunity to offer a maximum of 10 full ride athletic women’s basketball scholarships per school. Most schools do not have the budget to offer 10 full ride scholarships at the D2 level.
More importantly, most division 2 schools have very few players on a full ride scholarship. For example, let’s say one of the those full scholarships is worth $20,000 but the school only has 5 full scholarships to offer. In the eyes of the women’s basketball program, they have $100,000 = ($20,000 * 5 full scholarships) to spread among an entire team of 15-18 players typically. How that $100,000 is spread out is at the sole discretion of the head coach of the women’s basketball program.
The amount of outside scholarship money and academic money offered to a student-athlete plays a huge part in making the scholarship money work at the division 2 level. A full ride at the d2 level consist of academic money, athletic money, and outside scholarship money. It is common for a lot of D2 athletes to have low interest rate government loans and outside loans. Which is still not bad because athletes still have anywhere from 50%-90% of school paid for without loan money.
How Division 3 Basketball Scholarships Work
In women’s basketball, division 3 schools cannot offer any athletically related scholarships. The amount of money not coming out of pocket depends is all based on academic scholarships and outside scholarships.
But wait, I know you are thinking why would I even entertain a D3 school if they cannot even offer athletic scholarship money. Well the school obviously know this, and they tend to offer higher academic scholarships than Division II schools.
For example, lets say a Division II and Division III school both cost $20,000 to attend. The D2 school offers you $10,000 in athletic scholarship and $2,000 in academic scholarship for a total of $12,000. The D3 school offers you $0 in athletic scholarship money because they cant, but they offer you $19,000 in academic money. You have no outside scholarships. You now must get an $8,000 loan to play D2 basketball or $1,000 loan to play D3 basketball. You see the difference.
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