Flip halfway through Division II’s rules manual and you’ll find a chapter that has drawn more questions and confusion than most legislation. Members often have pointed to Bylaw 15 – the section on financial aid – as the most challenging bylaw to navigate.
And the Division II Legislation Committee has listened. With the goal of simplifying the legislation, the committee led an in-depth review of the division’s financial aid rules and eventually recommended three proposals that are now progressing toward a membership vote at the 2017 NCAA Convention.
Here’s a closer look at what these proposals really mean.
1. Count only athletics aid toward individual and team equivalency limits.
This would exempt other forms of institutional aid — such as academic and need-based aid — from individual and each sport’s equivalency limits so student-athletes could receive more nonathletics financial aid without affecting a team’s scholarship allotment.
2. Eliminate term-by-term financial aid awards.
This would require financial aid to be issued for a full academic year, with some exceptions, such as for midyear enrollees and graduates. Three-fourths of Division II financial aid awards already are issued for a full year.
3. Permit increases in athletically related financial aid at any time for any reason.
Currently, once the financial aid award’s period begins, increases can only be made for reasons unrelated to athletics. This change provides more flexibility to increase aid as administrators deem appropriate.
Breaking down proposal No. 1 even more …
Currently, if a student-athlete is receiving athletics aid, academic aid from the school also could count against his or her team’s equivalency limits. However, academic aid is exempt from counting against equivalency limits if:
- The athlete ranked in the upper 20 percent of his or her graduating high school class, achieved at least a 3.5 GPA, or had a combined score of at least 100 on the four sections of the ACT or a score of at least 1140 on the SAT (1210 if the SAT was taken in or after March 2016); or
- The athlete completed at least one academic year of college and earned a
- 3.3 GPA or higher.
- Jenny graduates from high school and commits to playing soccer at a Division II school.
- The school’s full grant-in-aid costs $30,000.
- The team already has used 9.7 of its 9.9 total equivalencies.
- The coach wants to give Jenny $5,000 in athletics aid.
- Jenny also received $10,000 in academic aid, but she does not meet any of the criteria for the current academic aid exemption.
What they’re saying:
Here are some key terms to understand when discussing financial aid in Division II athletics.
- Institutional aid: All scholarships and grants – including athletics aid – awarded by the school, as well as aid from government or private sources distributed by the school.
- Equivalency: A financial aid award that is equal to the value of a full grant-in-aid but is typically divided among multiple students. Each sport’s financial aid is limited by the number of equivalencies a team is allowed to provide. Any student who is receiving any amount of athletics-related financial aid is referred to as a “counter.”
- Athletics Aid: Scholarships awarded by the school based on athletics ability.
- Full grant-in-aid: Financial aid that covers the cost of tuition and fees, books and supplies, and room and board. This traditionally has been referred to as a “full ride.”
- Cost of attendance: The cost of attending a college or university, set through federal guidelines, for one academic year, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and other personal expenses.
- According to the 2015 GOALS study, more than two-thirds of Division II student-athletes said college costs were an important consideration in making their college choice.
- Men’s and women’s basketball and football student-athletes currently receive more than 80 percent of their financial aid package from athletics aid.
- Thirty-five percent of student-athletes receiving athletics aid currently receive nonathletic aid that counts toward their team limit.
- The average squad across all sports is funded at about 56 percent of its equivalency limit.
- Only four schools in Division II “fully fund” all of their sports, which is to fund them at or above 90 percent of the equivalency limit.