How to get a track or cross country scholarship

High school track and field and cross country athletes all over the country want to know how to get a track and field scholarship or cross country scholarship to help pay for college.  Competing in track and cross country for a division 1 or division 2 college is pretty expensive and there is nothing more rewarding than a generous athletic scholarship for your hard work and dedication to your track and field and cross country efforts.

Track and field or cross country athletic scholarship tip #1


Have coaches find you first!

If you want to step up your game in the recruiting area, you can try to get noticed and have coaches contact you first through recruiting websites.  The most popular website is beRecruited and you can register for FREE. College coaches use this site to contact potential track and field or cross country athletes all the time.  With college recruiting, it’s routine for college D1, D2, or D3 coaches to print athlete profiles off of the beRecruited website and then contact these athletes and eventually talk about track and cross country scholarships.  It’s really that easy.

All you have to do is create a profile with your highlights and even an action photo and BAM!…you’re all set.  You can even email or snail-mail your profile to the coach of your choice.  Doing so will show any college coach that you are serious about competing in track and field or cross country at the collegiate level.

Sign up for free!


Track and field or cross country athletic scholarship tip #2


Get good grades!

This is by far the most important and most over-looked piece of information you could ever come across when getting any type of scholarship, and yes even a track or cross country scholarship.  You can be the fastest track or cross country athlete in the world, but if you don’t have the appropriate GPA, ACT/SAT score, and you don’t meet the core course requirements set out by the NCAA, you could be considered as a “non-qualifier”.

If you end up being a “non-qualifier”, you can kiss your NCAA D1 or D2 track and field or cross country scholarship right out of high school goodbye.  This doesn’t mean you will never qualify for any type of athletic scholarship money in the future, it just means that if you plan on competing in the NCAA right away after high school that you would need to get your academics straight first.

Don’t be a recruiting nightmare!

The worst part about recruiting athletes at the collegiate level is that college coaches have a large number of high school athletes that they have to turn down and say “I’m sorry, I would like to offer you track scholarship, but you did not pass the NCAA clearinghouse standards” or “Your ACT score was too low” or “If only your GPA were a little bit higher”.  And the typical response they get from all of these prospect student athletes is “I wish someone would have told me” or “Had I known that, I would have tried harder”.

The end result is that coaches are unable to offer a track scholarship or even recruit a lot of fantastic athletes due to academic issues.  DON’T LET THIS BE YOU!!!   For more detailed information, feel free to learn more about the NCAA Division 1 academic requirements, Division 2 academic requirements, and Division 3 academic requirements all athletes need to meet in order to compete at the NCAA D1, D2, or D3 level.



Track and field or cross country athletic scholarship tip #3

Contact the coach!

If you are interested in participating in track and field or cross country for a particular college or university, you should contact the coach or coaches to show you are interested in their school.
College coaches are only allowed to call athletes so often due to NCAA recruiting policies, but you have an advantage in contacting them about track scholarships as often as you like during your senior year.

During your emails and phone calls you can learn about the track and cross country program, and discuss what athletic and academic requirements you must meet to earn a spot on the team.  After you have developed a pretty good relationship with the coaching staff, you can open the door for conversation about a track scholarship or cross country scholarship.

Keep in mind, each track and cross country coach and/or D1, D2, or D3 school may set different rules or they might have standards for who can be part of the team based on their academic and athletic performance.  These standards will be explained in tip #3.


Track and field or cross country athletic scholarship tip #4


Improve performance!

The coaches at Track Star USA have had a lot of experience with recruiting athletes and depending on the college or university, it makes it difficult to determine what process they all use in selecting who gets track or cross country scholarship money and who doesn’t.  At the end of the day, the better track or cross country athlete you are, the higher your athletic scholarship will be.

Some Division 1 and Division 2 track or cross country programs have a scholarship tier system that is based on performance.  In our experience this has been a pretty popular system when distributing track and cross country scholarships.  Basically, when the college or university has the funding available, the coach and the athletic department may provide a high volume of athletic scholarships to track and cross country athletes rather than a handful of full ride scholarships.

Tier system where athletic scholarship is based on performance

The tier system is a setup that coaches use to determine what performance level matches a certain amount of money.  The tier system could be based on what level of performance can score points in their conference meet, and how many points.  This tier system could also include a level for any athlete who has potential to qualify for NCAA nationals.

The basic principle with track and field is that the lower the points an athlete could possibly score in the conference meet, the lower the scholarship level would be, and the more points they could score, the higher the track scholarship.  If a high school athlete is already competing near a level that could automatically qualify them for NCAA Nationals, they could be eligible for higher levels of athletic scholarship money and quite possibly a full ride scholarship.

So what does this mean?  It means you really have to focus on improving your performance.  It’s that simple.  The better your track and field or cross country performance, the more athletic scholarship money you can qualify for.



Track and field or cross country athletic scholarship tip #5


Use your academic success as leverage!

At the beginning of the recruiting process athletes and parents should have a conversation about finances and try to set a goal for how much track and cross country scholarship money they think is fair.  However, most student athletes will run into a few snags here and there.  Even after 4-5 phone calls and 12 emails, the coach could still be nowhere near your goal amount.  When you run into a wall and the coach isn’t ready to meet your scholarship goal, you might be able to change the conversation and use your academic successes as leverage.

Being an above average student definitely has its advantages.  Track  and cross country coaches take pride in their team’s GPA and are always looking for student athletes who can help keep the team’s GPA up .  If you are serious about your studies, college coaches may be interested in your academic leadership and could be swayed to help out with more scholarship money.

If this sounds like you, don’t give up.  Keep grinding, and pull out your academic ace when you find yourself within reach of your financial goal.




  • Research what athletic performances are competitive for the D1, D2, or D3 school you are interested in.
  • Train smart and work hard within your sport.
  • Contact college coaches to talk about a track or cross country scholarship.
  • Understand what the academic requirements are for a Division 1 school.
  • Understand what the academic requirements are for a Division 2 school.
  • Understand what a Division 1 or Division 2 Qualifier is.
  • Understand what a Division 2 Partial Qualifier is.
  • Understand what a Division 1 or Division 2 Non-Qualifier is.

Division 1 academic requirements (click here)

Division 2 academic requirements (click here)

Division 3 academic requirements (click here)