The NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) essentially began in 1937 based around basketball, but its current multiple-sport form took shape in 1957. NAIA members tend to be smaller schools, which makes NAIA colleges a good choice for students looking for a more personal touch and a small school atmosphere.

The NAIA’s Champions of Character program promotes the five core character values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership to help ensure that college athletes also become model citizens.

Athletic Scholarships in the NAIA

NAIA schools provide $450 million in athletic scholarships. Each sport has scholarship limits set by the NAIA, but those scholarships can be dispensed as partial awards to spread financial aid around among athletes.

For example, the NAIA allows for 24 full scholarships for football. But that doesn’t mean only 24 players receive scholarship money. Those 24 full scholarships can be divided into as many half and quarter awards as needed. So, a school could award 12 full football scholarships, 12 half scholarships, and 24 quarter scholarships without exceeding the limit.

Eligibility for NAIA Colleges

High school seniors who plan on competing at the NAIA level need to register with the NAIA Eligibility Center first to determine their eligibility. In order to be eligible, high school students must meet two of these three requirements:

  • Minimum score of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT.
  • Minimum overall high school grade point average of 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale).
  • Graduate in the top half your high school class.

College Recruiting in the NAIA

The NAIA has fewer recruiting rules than the NCAA. NAIA coaches can contact student athletes anytime during high school. Ideally, a longer period of communication between an athlete and a coach helps to develop a solid relationship.

To learn more about NAIA recruiting, download the NAIA Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete.


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