• Prospective Student-Athlete (PSA): A prospective student-athlete (PSA) is defined as a student who has started classes for the 9th grade. A younger student may become a prospective student-athlete if the institution provides such an individual (or the individual's relatives or friends) any financial assistance or other benefits not provided to prospective students generally.
A student remains a prospective student-athlete until the individual enrolls in a full-time program of studies and attends classes in any term of a four-year collegiate institution's regular academic year (excluding summer); or participates in a regular-squad practice or competition at a four-year collegiate institution.
• NCAA Eligibility Center: The NCAA Initial Eligibility Center officially certifies student-athletes as academically eligible to compete based on requirements that include: coursework, GPA, and test scores. To better understand the NCAA Eligibility Center's academic standards please see 'Freshman Eligibility Standards Quick Reference' located in the Links section of this page.
Many prospective student-athletes register with the NCAA Eligibility Center during their junior year of high school and will have their high schools forward their updated transcripts every semester until they submit their final transcript following graduation. The NCAA Eligibility Center also officially certifies a student-athlete's initial amateurism status based on the answers provided by a student to the amateurism questions. For step-by-step instructions on how to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, please see below.
• Recruiting: In most sports, recruiting materials cannot be sent to a prospective student-athlete until September 1st at the beginning of a prospective student-athlete's junior year in high school. Further, telephone calls to a prospective student-athlete may not be made before July 1st following completion of a prospective student-athlete's junior year in high school. Telephone calls are limited to one call per week and are subject to NCAA recruiting calendar restrictions. An institutional staff member can accept, but cannot return, calls placed at a prospective student-athlete's own expense before July 1st following a prospective student-athlete's junior year. Coaches are also permitted to attend a prospective student-athlete's athletics events and visit a prospective student-athlete's high school and home during the recruiting process, but these contacts and evaluations are subject to NCAA recruiting calendar restrictions. For definitions of contact and evaluation please see the Coaches & Staff section.
• Official Visit: A prospective student-athlete is permitted to take a maximum of five official visits, with no more than one to any single institution, beginning no earlier than the opening day of senior year classes for a prospective student-athlete in most sports. Before arriving on campus, a prospective student-athlete needs to provide their transcript and test scores (ACT or SAT) to the institution, as well as register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The visit can last no longer than 48 hours and, during the visit, the institution is permitted to provide transportation, accommodations, entertainment, complimentary admissions, and meals.
• Unofficial Visit: A prospective student-athlete is permitted to visit any institution an unlimited number of times at any year in school at their own expense. An institution is, however, permitted to provide complimentary admissions to athletics events. Although these visits do not have to be prearranged, it is most beneficial if they are.
• National Letter of Intent: The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a one-year financial aid agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an institution dependent upon a prospective student-athlete meeting NCAA and institutional requirements. NLI's are only permitted to be delivered via express mail, courier service, regular mail, and fax. NLI's can only be hand-delivered if a prospective student-athlete is on campus. An unlimited number of phone calls can be made to a prospective student-athlete surrounding the initial NLI signing date. An unlimited number of phone calls are also permitted after a prospective student-athlete signs an NLI with an institution, while other institutions are no longer permitted to contact that prospective student-athlete. NLI's can only be issued after a prospective student-athlete has registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center. For more information regarding the National Letter of Intent process, please see 'Quick Reference Guide to the NLI' and the NLI website located in the Links section of this page.
• Athletic Grant-In-Aid: Athletics grants-in-aid (frequently referred to as athletics scholarships) shall neither be awarded for a period less than once academic year nor for a period that would exceed the student's five-year period of eligibility. Per NCAA guidelines, full scholarships cover tuition and fees, room, board and required course-related books. Many student-athletes receive athletics scholarships that only cover a portion of these costs. For more information regarding athletic grant-in-aid please see 'How Athletic Scholarships Work' located in the Links section of this page.
• Five Year Eligibility Clock: A student-athlete shall complete his or her seasons of participation within five calendar years from the beginning of the semester or quarter in which the student-athlete first registered for a minimum full-time program of studies in a collegiate institution, with time spent in the armed services, on official religious missions or with recognized foreign aid services of the U.S. government being excepted. For international students, service in the armed forces or on an official religious mission of the student's home country is considered equivalent to such service in the United States.
Step-By-Step Instructions to Initial Eligibility
To be eligible for NCAA athletics, prospective student-athletes are required to meet NCAA Initial Eligibility requirements. These eligibility requirements include two prongs: an academic prong and an amateurism prong. What follows is the step-by-step process that should be followed to ensure eligibility.
High School Freshman & Sophomores
• Make a plan. To be eligible to participate in NCAA athletics a high school student-athlete is required to graduate from his or her high school within 8 academic semesters and must complete a specified number of minimum core courses. To ensure you are able to graduate within the 8 academic semesters, while also completing the required core courses, we suggest you take the following steps during your freshman and/or sophomore year(s):
• Familiarize yourself with specific NCAA eligibility requirements. The NCAA requires prospective student-athletes to complete a specific number of specified core courses. To view the core course requirements please see 'Freshman Eligibility Standards Quick Reference' located in the Links section of this page. To view which courses the NCAA has approved as core courses for your school please see 'NCAA Core Course Lists' located in the Links section of this page.
• Get to know your high school guidance counselor. Tell him or her you hope to eventually compete in NCAA athletics and ask him or her to help you formulate an academic plan that will ensure you are able to meet minimum academic eligibility standards.
• Study hard. The NCAA requires you to obtain a minimum grade point average in your core courses. In order to determine the minimum grade point average you are required to obtain, the NCAA uses a sliding scale that weighs your grade point average against your SAT or ACT score. In other words, the lower your grade point average is the higher your SAT or ACT score will need to be. The sliding scale the NCAA uses is listed in the 'Freshman Eligibility Standards Quick Reference' located in the Links section of this page.
High School Juniors
• At the beginning of your junior year, register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. A link to the NCAA Initial Eligibility Center is provided in the Links section of this page. Step-by-step instructions on how to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center are listed below.
• Meet with your high school guidance counselor and make sure the plan you put together as a freshman or sophomore is working and you are on pace to meet minimum eligibility requirements. Ask your guidance counselor to send an official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center at the completion of your junior year.
• Continue to study and get the best grades you can possibly achieve.
• Register and take the SAT or ACT. A link to both the SAT and ACT websites are provided in the Links section of this page.
• The score you receive on your SAT or ACT will be used to determine the minimum grade point average you are required to obtain in your core courses. The lower your test score is the higher your grade point average will need to be.
• Before registering for your senior year courses check with your high school guidance counselor to make sure you are on track to graduate. Additionally, check with your high school guidance counselor and the NCAA Eligibility Center to see which core courses you still need to complete during your senior year.
High School Seniors
• Check to make sure all of the courses you believe are approved by the NCAA as core courses are actually approved.
• Continue striving to get the best possible grades.
• If necessary continue to retake the SAT or ACT in order to achieve a qualifying score. You may take the SAT or ACT as many times as it is offered and the NCAA will use the higher of the scores you receive.
• Review your Amateurism Questionnaire responses at the NCAA Eligibility Center and request final amateurism certification beginning April 1st (for Fall enrollees) or October 1st (for Spring enrollees).
After Completing Senior Year of High School
• Ask your guidance counselor to send a final official transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center with proof of your graduation.
• If you fell behind in your core courses, or if you need to raise your grade point average, enroll in approved summer school sessions.
Step-By-Step Instructions to Register with NCAA Eligibility Center
In order to be eligible for practice and competition, every prospective student-athlete needs to meet NCAA Eligibility Center certification standards. The following step-by-step list shows how easy it is to go through the process:
1. Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center using the NCAA Eligibility Center link located in the Links section of this page. Remember to save your NCAA Eligibility Center code and password.
2. Send your ACT or SAT score to NCAA Eligibility Center:
Option 1: For those students who have already taken the ACT or SAT but have not had a test score sent to the NCAA Eligibility Center the following links will bring you to the sending score reports page for the testing centers. All test scores must come directly from the testing center using these links; test scores cannot be sent from the high school or the student.
ACT: Send Scores SAT: Send Scores
Option 2: If you have not taken the ACT or SAT already, when you are filling out where to have the test scores sent, mark 9999 in the code section. This will automatically send a copy of your scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center.
3. Contact your High School and have them send an official copy of your transcripts to the NCAA Eligibility Center at:
NCAA Eligibility Center
1802 Alonzo Watford Sr. Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46202
4. As soon as you graduate from High School contact your school again and have them send a final copy of your official High School transcript with proof of graduation on the transcript to the NCAA Eligibility Center.
5. Check your NCAA Eligibility Center status periodically to find out what items are missing and take care of the issues immediately. Also, stay in good communication with your coach regarding your NCAA Eligibility Center status.
6. If you have a need for a fee waiver, ask your high school guidance counselor to submit a letter on your behalf directly to the NCAA Eligibility Center stating that you have a need for a fee waiver. The only requirements are that this letter has to be on school letterhead and has to be signed by a school official like a guidance counselor or a principal. This letter can be faxed or mailed.
7. After high school graduation log back in to the NCAA Eligibility Center to finalize your amateurism answers.
8. Remember that a lot of prospective student-athletes are also going through this process at the same time and this overload can make the NCAA Eligibility Center process slow; therefore, make sure to act early and take care of any issues right away!