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As someone nearing the end of their time as a high school student, you may have been contemplating which university to apply to. If you are like most high school students, an important factor in your decision process is financing your journey through academic studies.
Luckily, if you diligently search for prizes carefully, you are more than likely to find funding to go to any university on your list. It would be even better if you got some talent in cheerleading. These days, more and more scholarships are becoming available to cheerleaders.
Gone are the days when people believed cheerleaders were just there to support the football team. In contrast, modern colleges recognize cheerleading as an admirable feature of athleticism. While the activity is still not considered an official sport by the NCAA, many schools and organizations offer cheerleading scholarships for young people who take part.
This section breaks down all the important aspects of cheerleading scholarships, from how to get one to which colleges offer them. Keep reading to learn about some of the best scholarships available to cheerleaders along with what it takes to apply.
How do you get a cheerleading scholarship?
Unlike other collegiate sports, colleges do not recruit as zealously when it comes to cheerleading.
While cheerleading is not recognized as one of the NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA athletic teams, it is still a sport in high demand. Tryouts are common when applying to colleges, or simply having a strong background in gymnastics, dance, or tumble may suffice.
Most scholarships in the sport are awarded directly by the cheerleaders’ intended colleges, although if you look hard enough, cheer organizations and associations – such as the USA Cheer – also offer awards to athletes looking to pursue the sport on the college level.
While there is less funding available to cheerleaders than football players, for example, programs with established cheerleading programs that win competitions will be more generous than schools without a cheerleading tradition.
How many colleges offer cheerleading scholarships?
The following 14 colleges and universities offer great scholarship opportunities for cheerleaders. Of course, you should choose a college or a university based on other non-cheerleading-related factors, such as cost of tuition, overall academic reputation, and areas of study.
Anyway, if you’re interested to be a part of the program, you may want to start your research by reviewing these colleges and universities first:
- University of Kentucky
- Concordia University Ann Arbor
- University of Minnesota
- Barton Community College
- University of Hawaii
- Louisiana State University
- University of Delaware
- Oklahoma Panhandle State University
- Belmont University
- Fort Hays State University
- George Washington University
- Indiana Tech University
- Tarleton State University
- Texas Tech University
How hard is it to get cheerleading scholarships?
Cheer scholarships often work like this: the more competitive the program, the more scholarship funding coaches have available. Therefore, receiving a cheerleading scholarship is extremely competitive.
Coaches often prioritize their scholarships to the cheerleaders on the team who have the most advanced skills. Some schools score cheerleaders during tryouts and then award the highest three scorers a scholarship.
To get a cheerleading scholarship, you need to be able to make an impact on the squad right away, no matter the position. These coaches look for cheerleaders with elite tumbling, stunting, dance, and jump skills.
Plus, they highly take into consideration a recruit’s GPA. In fact, some college cheerleading scholarships are awarded solely based on an athlete’s GPA. Being able to compete at a high level, coupled with a solid academic background, will improve your chances of receiving a scholarship.
Lastly, male cheerleaders on co-ed squads are more likely to earn a scholarship simply because colleges typically designate some scholarship money for male cheerleaders and there are fewer on the squad, so less competition overall.
What are the best cheerleading colleges?
There isn’t a clear-cut “best of the best” when it comes to college cheerleading. Likewise, a certain division doesn’t create more competitive programs. The top Division 3 cheerleading teams match up to Division 1 programs when it comes to overall scores.
In fact, two of the top programs in the nation are junior colleges. Therefore, the “best” college for a student-athlete completely depends on the type of program and experience they want.
Specifically, families need to decide whether they want a competitive program or a non-competitive program, a team that competes within UCA or NCA, and the type of squad—all girls, coed, small, etc.
But even after a recruit narrows down their athletic needs, they need to factor in other important aspects of a college, such as academics, school size, location, and campus life.
To help you start, we’ve compiled a list of well-established cheerleading programs across the country:
- University of Kentucky
- Oklahoma State University
- University of Alabama
- Texas Tech University
- University of Louisville
- Mississippi State University
- University of Mississippi
- Ohio State University
- University of Tennessee
How can I win a cheerleading scholarship?
If you are serious about winning a cheerleading scholarship, you’ll need to be a top contender. Your chances will be better if you joined the cheerleading squad as early as possible in high school.
Besides having great tumbling skills, it’s also important to have good grades. While you’re winning a scholarship for your athleticism, colleges look for well-rounded athletes.
College coaches highly value recruits who maintain a high GPA and have solid test scores. In fact, some college cheer programs award academic scholarships to student-athletes who maintain a certain GPA. Having a solid academic background can open doors to scholarship opportunities at almost every school.