The NAIA – Small Colleges, Huge Rewards!


It seems for most high school student-athletes and their parents, the dream of going to college and playing their sport via scholarship means being seen on ESPN every Saturday or on the pages of Sports Illustrated.  Well, the reality is that there are only so many scholarship openings to be filled and a thousand times that of recruits looking to fill them!  Not to mention, not everyone is the caliber of athlete that can fill a Division I or even a Division II roster spot.

With so many high school student-athletes pursuing athletic scholarships, the competition for offers is extreme!  What is absolutely amazing is how many of these recruits and their parents have never heard of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics)………simply put, it is the “NCAA” for smaller college programs.  Not only are there a lot of colleges under the NAIA, but they offer the coveted “full-ride” scholarships as well!

The NAIA is a community of nearly 300 member colleges and universities, 60,000 student-athletes and an environment that focuses on athletic participation as one part of the total education process.  Their members award millions of dollars in financial aid each year, compete for 23 national championships in 13 sports and offer a wide selection of academic and athletic programs.

If you go to and click on COLLEGE SEARCH on their navigation menu, you will see where you can search their database of U.S. colleges and universities and “sort” the list by any division, including the NAIA.  This will allow you to see what colleges exist and in what state they are located.  You can also click on the college name and be taken directly to their website.  I suggest that you take a look and see what some of these campuses look like.  They are awesome and many have fantastic athletic facilities!

Remember, a big reason you’re participating in sports is to “play” and for many athletes, going the NAIA route is a great chance to do just that.  Sure, you can set your goals on trying for Division I, Division II or even Division III (DIII does not award athletic scholarships), but if you are struggling getting any notice, let alone offers and you want to take your sport to the collegiate level, then the NAIA just might be the perfect fit!

Just as you need to be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center (as early as the beginning of your Junior year), you also need to register with the NAIA “separately”.  You can do this online and is highly recommended if you are wanting to be considered for offers with either the NCAA or the NAIA.  The cost to register is $65 (international students pay $85), where the NCAA charges $65 ($95 for international students)

To get answers to every question you need to ask regarding the NAIA and what it has to offer, please visit this great link:

* For more High School athletics and college recruiting / scholarship assistance, visit: