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Crunching the Numbers: Football Scholarships

By Ryan Wood |

The recruiting process is new to nearly every prospective football player–not just you.

You’ve put together a highlight video and sent it out to schools. You’re getting letters from other schools you haven’t heard of. You’re wondering what’s spin and what’s true when talking scholarship money. You’re really overwhelmed when asked to make a decision.

You’re not alone. That said, it’s important to remember that knowledge is power in the recruiting game.

To get a sense of where all the schools belong and what kind of scholarship limitations they have, here’s a quick rundown of each college football division:

How many schools: There are 120 schools competing in the FBS (formerly Division I-A), the highest level in the collegiate ranks. This includes the big programs like Michigan, Ohio State, LSU, USC and Notre Dame.

Scholarship count: FBS programs are allowed 85 scholarships on its roster at any given time, and generally can sign up to 25 players per year.

Scholarship breakdown: All 85 scholarships are full rides. There are no partial scholarships given in FBS football.

How Many Schools: There are 125 schools competing in the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) in 2008. This includes all of the Ivy League schools and FCS powers like Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Northern Iowa.

Scholarship Count: FCS schools have 63 scholarships to be distributed, and up to 30 incoming players each year can be given aid.

Scholarship Breakdown: Scholarships at FCS schools can be full or partial rides. The 63 grants can be divided up in any way, but no more than 85 players can be put on scholarship.

How Many Schools: There are 156 schools competing in NCAA Division II. Some of the more well-known Division II football programs include Northwest Missouri State, Valdosta State and Grand Valley State.

Scholarship Count: Division II programs have 36 scholarships to be distributed, though some conferences don’t allow their schools to have that many.

Scholarship Breakdown: Football scholarships at Division-II institutions can be divided among as many players as a program wishes. Most Division-II players are on partial scholarships.

How Many Schools: There are 239 schools playing Division III football in 2008. That includes powerhouse Mount Union (Ohio), which has won several national championships.

Scholarship Count: There are no athletic scholarships in Division III athletics.

Scholarship Breakdown: Though there’s no chance of getting a football scholarship at a Division III school, it is possible to receive an academic scholarship or a need-based grant that can help financially while you play football.

How Many Schools: There are 92 schools that play football in the NAIA. The powerhouse NAIA programs include Carroll College and Georgetown (Ky.)

Scholarship Count: NAIA football programs are permitted 24 scholarships to be spread out in any way.

Scholarship Breakdown: Partial scholarships are common. Strong students meeting a certain academic criteria can receive aid without it counting toward the 24-scholarship limit.

How Many Schools: There are 68 schools that participate in junior-college football nationwide. Some of the best include Butler (Kan.) Community College and Pearl River (Miss.) College.

Scholarship Count: NJCAA programs are permitted 85 scholarships.

Scholarship Breakdown: Many states, like Kansas, Texas and Mississippi, require its junior colleges to reserve a large number of space on the active roster for in-state talent. Kansas jucos, for example, must have 43 Kansas high school graduates on its 55-man active roster.