When I was in high school, I dreamed of being a student athlete.
They were popular, good-looking and had all the extracurriculars to make college admissions counselors swoon.
Now that my 10-year reunion has come and gone, I’ve come to terms with my lack of athletic finesse, but I’m still envious of those sports scholarships.
If you think only the best athletes in the country get scholarship offers, well, you’re right. Just 2% of high-school athletes receive athletic scholarships, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
Even so, the average athletic scholarship is only around $10,000 per year. Factor in the cost of room and board, a meal plan and out-of-state tuition, and you might wish you’d played chess at community college instead.
13 Athletic Scholarships for College-Bound Students
Luckily, some organizations have identified the gap in athletic scholarships and are helping to bridge it.
So whether you’re an all-star prodigy or just like playing pick-up on the weekends, you might be eligible for a number of fitness and athletic-based scholarships.
1. Wear Action Scholarship
Are you obsessed with your step count? Then this scholarship is perfect for you.
Wear Action is a website dedicated to education on wearable technology. It offers a $500 scholarship each year to any high-school or college student with the best 700+ word essay on the impact fitness gadgets have on our lives.
You must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and be a U.S. citizen to apply.
The annual deadline is in February.
2. NSCA Foundation Scholarship
If you’re pursuing a career in strength and conditioning, such as physical therapy, coaching, or personal training, the National Strength and Conditioning Association Foundation awards scholarships in five different categories every year.
- High School (for seniors entering college)
- Challenge Scholarship
- Jerry Martin Scholarship (specifically for students wanting to become strength coaches)
- Minority Scholarship
- Women’s Scholarship
Applicants are judged on a number of categories including NSCA involvement, financial need and an essay.
Scholarships are worth $1,500 each and students must be current NSCA members by the application deadline. The number of awards hasn’t been disclosed for 2017, but in 2016, there were 38 scholarship winners across the five categories.
The deadline is in March annually.
3. Sports Unlimited Scholarship
Sports Unlimited awards one $1,000 scholarship annually to a college freshman or sophomore or high school senior.
Its unique essay question asks you to identify a piece of gear or equipment used in a sport and to describe how and why to improve it. My pick would be lacrosse sticks, with a glow-in-the-dark paint job.
The deadline is April 25, 2017.
4. Fitness and Education Scholarship
If you plan to major in a health- or fitness-related field at a four-year university, Ironcompany sponsors this $2,000 scholarship annually for an incoming college freshman.
Students must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and explain what makes you passionate about fitness in an essay using fewer than 500 words.
The deadline is May 1, 2017.
5. Triple-Impact Competitor Scholarship
The Positive Coaching Alliance awards high-school juniors $1,000-$2,000 scholarships based on their essays about improving themselves, their teammates, and the game.
Students must reside in the U.S. and play for a high school team or in club sports. The organization awards a minimum of 62 scholarships every year.
The deadline is May 31, 2017.
6. BigSun Scholarship
High school seniors and college students can apply for BigSun Athletics’ BigSun Scholarship.
Students must be engaged in a sport of any kind and apply with an essay describing how their participation in high school sports influenced them.
The deadline is June 19, 2017.
7. USATF Kim Haines Academic Excellence Grant
Student athletes who have been members of USA Track and Field for the two most recent consecutive years and have competed in one of the qualifying championships can apply for one of 10 grants from $500-$1500. The award amount is based on GPA.
The deadline is July 30, 2017.
8. Thomas “Sarge” Johnson Scholarship
These 11 scholarships are available for active USA Boxing members who have have competed in at least two sanctioned bouts in this year, as well as each of the last two calendar years. Applicants should have completed at least one semester in a college, technical or vocational school.
There are two trade school awards for $2,000 each, seven undergraduate awards for $3,000 each and two graduate awards for $2,500 each.
The deadline is Sept. 15, 2017.
9. Focus Fitness Scholarship
Focus Fitness teaches at-home bodyweight exercises and proper nutrition. Its annual $3,000 scholarship is open to all college students in any major, but special consideration is given to students committed to living a healthy lifestyle.
You’ll have to write a 1,000-1,500 essay about why you chose your major and what you do to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The deadline is Dec. 1, 2017.
10. Yoga Alliance Foundation Scholarship
If you’re more of a sun warrior and a four-year university isn’t your thing, then you can apply for one of the Yoga Alliance Foundation’s nine yoga education scholarships.
Awards are biannual. The spring deadline is in May, and the fall deadline is in August.
11. CaptainU Student-Athlete Scholarship
CaptainU is a site that allows student athletes to promote themselves to colleges and helps college coaches manage their recruiting efforts.
High school and junior college students who play sports and plan to attend a four-year college can apply for this $2,000 award by completing a profile and promoting themselves and CaptainU on social media.
This scholarship has a quarterly deadline.
12. Lawrence A. Golding Scholarship
The American College of Sports Medicine honors one undergraduate student at its annual ACSM Health & Fitness Summit with $1,000 in scholarship money and $1,000 credit to the ACSM store for DVDs, books or wearables.
Sophomores, juniors and seniors in college who have made a significant contribution to their community in the areas of health, fitness and/or education can apply.
The deadline is in November annually.
13. Foot Locker Scholar Athletes Scholarship
For high school seniors entering a four-year, accredited U.S. college or university, Foot Locker awards $20,000 scholarshipsto20students each year.
Of those, one scholar will be selected for the Ken C. Hicks Scholarship, receiving an additional $5,000 award.
Students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, be a member in good standing of a high school sports team or be involved in an after-school sport.
The deadline is in December annually.
Jen Smith is a writing intern at The Penny Hoarder and blogger behind Saving with Spunk. She’s a recreational runner who spends more money on her sport than she will ever get back.
Turning your sweat into cash for college is possible with scholarships for fitness enthusiasts. Whether you run marathons, play competitive sports, lead aerobics classes, or simply pump iron in the gym daily, several scholarship organizations can reward your dedication. That’s excellent news because statistics show only 480,000 of the nearly 8 million high school athletes actually land full NCAA scholarships. Community, collegiate, and professional foundations can help fill funding gaps by recognizing scholars for their healthy, active lifestyles.
America’s obesity epidemic is reaching astronomical weights, so anyone seeking careers promoting exercise will receive extra kudos. Show off your strength and championship mindset to win the following fitness-related scholarships.
1. Barbara A. Cooley Masters Scholarship
Deadline: October 15th
Fitness enthusiasts who wish to inspire healthy lifestyles in children, teens, and adults could qualify for the $1,000 Barbara A. Cooley Masters Scholarship from SHAPE America. Each October, the association selects outstanding graduate students who are pursuing health or physical education programs at accredited U.S. schools with a cumulative GPA above 3.0. Scholars are picked based on academic talent, leadership in health-related activities, and promise as certified health education specialists.
Barbara A. Cooley Masters Scholarship
1900 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191
2. Carl V. Gisolfi Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: January 20th
Partnering with Gatorade, the American College of Sports Medicine administers the Carl V. Gisolfi Memorial Fund to provide $5,000 scholarships for fitness enthusiasts who have devoted doctoral dissertation research to thermoregulation, conditioning, hydration, exercise, or another aspect of physical activity. Qualified Ph.D. applicants must be active ACSM members, affiliate with accredited U.S. universities, and have unmet financial need. Special preference is given to research proposals addressing minority health.
Carl V. Gisolfi Memorial Scholarship
401 West Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
3. Carolyn D. Vanacore Scholarship
Deadline: June 15th
Valued at $1,000, the Carolyn D. Vanacore Scholarship is presented yearly by the Connecticut Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to female members who have declared relevant majors to the CTAHPERD mission, including sports management. Interested fitness enthusiasts must attain a minimum 2.7, hold junior or senior status, attend an accredited bachelor’s program, reside in Connecticut, participate in varsity sports, and demonstrate financial need beyond athletic scholarships.
Carolyn D. Vanacore Scholarship
563 Miller Road South
Windsor, CT 06074
4. Derek Jeter Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 1st
The Kalamazoo Community Foundation funds the Derek Jeter Scholarship Program to award $1,000 annually to one male and one female high school senior who’s advocated physical fitness while abstaining from drug and alcohol use. Eligibility criteria includes living in Michigan’s Kalamazoo County, enrolling at an accredited two or four-year college, demonstrating community leadership, possessing a minimum 3.0 GPA, and scoring at least 1070 on the SAT or 21 on the ACT.
Derek Jeter Scholarship Program
402 East Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
5. Edward and Marion Petzko Scholarship
Deadline: February 15th
Named for an active couple who devoted 55 years combined to teaching, the Edward and Marion Petzko Scholarship is granted for $1,000 by the Saginaw Community Foundation to support fitness enthusiasts who have participated in golf, track, or cross country for 2+ years. Suitable applicants must reside in Michigan’s Saginaw County, be accepted at four-year Michigan colleges full-time, hold a varsity letter, and demonstrate a minimum “B” average.
Edward and Marion Petzko Scholarship
1 Tuscola Street Suite 100B
Saginaw, MI 48607
6. Exercise for Life Athletic Scholarship
Deadline: June 10th
As one of the most profitable scholarships for fitness enthusiasts, the Exercise for Life Athletic Scholarship awards $10,000 each year through the Boomer Esiason Foundation to four high school and undergraduate students who’ve been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Eligible student-athletes must jog regularly, participate in CF therapy, be training for the qualifying 1.5-mile run, show evidence of academic achievement, need funding for accredited U.S. colleges, and be actively involved in community service.
Exercise for Life Athletic Scholarship
483 10th Avenue Suite 300
New York, NY 10018
7. Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship
Deadline: December 16th
Sponsored by the sportswear retail giant, the Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship bestows $20,000 to college-bound high school seniors who embody good sportsmanship, maintain physically fit lifestyles, and exhibit enthusiastic community leadership. Selection criteria requires being a U.S. citizen or legal resident, playing a varsity or intramural sport, carrying an unweighted GPA of 3.0 or better, and enrolling at an accredited four-year university this Fall.
Foot Locker Scholar Athlete Scholarship
330 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
8. Hood Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship
Deadline: April 22nd
HP Hood Milk LLC established a Sportsmanship Scholarship program that distributes $5,000 annually to student-athletes across New England, including Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine, who write stellar 250-word entries about how they’ve demonstrated good sportsmanship on and off the field. Fitness enthusiasts must have participated in a varsity sport, be accepted into an accredited U.S. college, volunteer regularly in their community, and sustain a 3.0 GPA.
Hood Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship
75 Washington Avenue Suite 201
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 772-3119 ext. 21
9. Jerry Martin Scholarship Fund
Deadline: March 15th
Since 2014, the National Strength and Conditioning Association has honored the long-time coach and Boyd Epley Award winner by managing the Jerry Martin Scholarship Fund. For these $1,500 scholarships, qualified candidates must have NSCA membership, be enrolling full-time at accredited U.S. institutions, major in a strength and conditioning-related field, accomplish an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher, prioritize physical fitness, and intend to become strength coaches.
Jerry Martin Scholarship Fund
1885 Bob Johnson Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
10. John A. Mayes EDAC Scholarship
Deadline: February 10th
Each spring, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association promotes the John A. Mayes EDAC Scholarship to award $2,300 to ethnically diverse students of African American, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Native American descent who are pursuing CAATE-accredited athletic training programs. Master’s or doctoral candidates must finish baccalaureate education, possess a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or better, have two years of NATA membership, and be nominated by certified athletic trainers.
John A. Mayes EDAC Scholarship
1620 Valwood Parkway Suite 115
Carrollton, TX 75006
11. Mary McMillan Scholarship Award
Deadline: December 1st
Honoring the World War II veteran who founded the U.S. Army’s first physical therapy department, the Mary McMillan Scholarship Award grants $3,000 to $5,000 annually for fitness enthusiasts who are within 12 months of finishing a CAPTE-accredited physical therapy or assistant program. The American Physical Therapy Association judges applicants on scholastic ability, professional productivity, community service, healthcare goals, and nomination letters. Qualified candidates might also consider the $5,000 Minority Scholarship Fund.
Mary McMillan Scholarship Award
1111 North Fairfax Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
12. Notah Begay III Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 16th
Named for the New Mexican who became the PGA Tour’s sole full-blood American Indian golfer, the Notah Begay III Scholarship Program bestows $1,400 each year to tribal members who excel as scholar-athletes in any varsity team sport. The Albuquerque Community Foundation seeks fitness enthusiasts who are graduating from New Mexico high schools, accepted at nonprofit U.S. institutions full-time, at least 25 percent Indian blood, and carrying a minimum “B” average.
Notah Begay III Scholarship Program
624 Tijeras Ave NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
13. NSCA High School Scholarships
Deadline: March 15th
Another of the scholarships for fitness enthusiasts from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) grants $1,500 to college-bound high school seniors who intend to work within the exercise science, athletic conditioning, or personal fitness industry. Graduating this spring with a minimum 3.0 GPA and enrolling full-time at an accredited U.S. college is required. The application process involves submitting official transcripts, letters of recommendation, proof of financial need, and a well-written essay.
NSCA High School Scholarships
1885 Bob Johnson Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
14. Robert Hampton Student Scholarship
Deadline: May 22nd
Ranging from $1,000 to $2,000, the Robert Hampton Student Scholarship is offered by the South Carolina Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance to reward fitness enthusiasts who’ve chosen these majors at accredited universities. Eligible full-time undergraduates must be at least second-semester juniors, hold 75+ credits, have financial need, obtain a minimum 3.0 GPA, be active SCAHPERD members, and serve as positive role models for healthy lifestyles.
Robert Hampton Student Scholarship
4810 Colonial Drive
Columbia, SC 29203
15. Salute You Scholarship Program
The American Council on Exercise (ACE) created the Salute You Scholarship Program to assist honorably discharged service members from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard transition into leading the fitness industry. Scholarship funding covers the $699 Premium Plus study program, ACE Personal Trainer Certification study guides, and free testing. Eligible candidates must submit a DD Form 214, complete the first 15 Academy lessons, and register for the exam within six months.
Salute You Scholarship Program
4851 Paramount Drive
San Diego, CA 92123
(888) 825-3636 ext. 194
16. Steve’s Club CrossFit Scholarship
Funded by Carlos Gibson and Redemption LLC, the Steve’s Club CrossFit Scholarship presents $1,000 annually to at-risk youth who exhibit exceptional determination to overcome by pursuing Level 1 CrossFit Certification. Interested athletes must be at least 17 years old, participate in any Steve’s Club program for six months, show commitment to a drug prevention program, and intend to practice as fitness trainers. Applicants must include a two-paragraph short essay describing their most valuable life lessons.
Steve’s Club CrossFit Scholarship
7800 Airport Highway
Pennsauken, NJ 08109
17. Susan Johnson Sterling Scholarship
Deadline: January 15th, May 15, or September 15th
The Susan Johnson Sterling Scholarship offers $500 from the Cooper Institute three times annually to honor the former Vice President of Education from 1988 to 2005. Fitness enthusiasts who wish to take the Institute’s courses in nutrition, personal training, weight management, aerobics, and interval training for CI-CPT certification may apply. Applications are incomplete without two recommendations, a resume of achievement, and a personal statement highlighting the values of teamwork and leadership.
Susan Johnson Sterling Scholarship
12330 Preston Road
Dallas, TX 75230
18. Twin Cities in Motion Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
The Twin Cities in Motion Scholarship program distributes $5,000 each year to one female and one male high school senior who maintain their fitness goals by participating in cross country or track running events longer than 800 meters. Runners must live within Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Goodhue, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Washington, and Wright counties. Scholarship recipients must display scholastic ability with a minimum 3.0 GPA for attending any U.S. university.
Twin Cities in Motion Scholarship
2635 University Avenue West Suite 190
St. Paul, MN 55114
19. U.S.A. Powerlifting Collegiate Scholarships
Deadline: February 15th
The U.S.A. Powerlifting Collegiate Committee proudly delivers $500 scholarships for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders who intend to compete at this year’s High School Nationals. College-bound seniors who hold USAPL membership and a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better may apply. Before February 15th, applications need to provide a coach’s nomination letter, one teacher recommendation, official school transcripts, and a minimum 100-word personal essay.
U.S.A. Powerlifting Collegiate Scholarships
1120 Huffman Road Suite 24
Anchorage, AK 99515
20. Yoga Alliance Foundation Scholarships
Deadline: September 30th
Annually, the Yoga Alliance Foundation awards at least $10,000 in scholarships to six inspirational fitness enthusiasts who have consistently practiced yoga for at least three years. Eligibility criteria requires registering for RYS 200 or 300 training, demonstrate need for financial assistance with income no more than 2.5 times federal poverty level, be U.S. citizens or legal residents, demonstrate community leadership, and intend to teach yoga classes to underserved populations.
Yoga Alliance Foundation Scholarships
1560 Wilson Blvd. Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22209
College tuition can leave you counting cents rather than calories and crunches. Around 85 percent of full-time undergraduates rely on financial aid to afford post-secondary courses. That’s because higher education tips the scales with an average cost of $15,022 at public and $39,173 at private colleges! Fortunately, several organizations have raised funds to support athletes, young trainers, and other exercise fanatics with schooling costs. Check out these 20 great scholarships for fitness enthusiasts to shed some dollar signs off your overweight tuition bills.
See also: 50 Fittest College Towns in America 2016 – 2017