What is the NAIA?

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The most well-known college sports organisation in America is the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletics Association), where there are the three levels of ability known as Division I, Division II and Division III. However, although you may have already made up your mind about what level you would like to aim for, have you ever considered NAIA colleges? What is the NAIA, you might ask?

The NAIA stands for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes. The NAIA serves as an organisation which is dedicated to student-athletes who are looking to compete and study hard to earn a quality degree. Their website says it all “[They are] a trailblazer in providing equal opportunity for all student-athletes. An expectation of ethical behaviour, fairness in competition, access to an athletic scholarship, sportsmanship and leadership development. At the core of all of this- character” (NAIA). To me, that quotation just says it all. Isn't that what we want when looking for a scholarship opportunity to America?

There are almost 300 universities and colleges that participate in the NAIA. Generally, the colleges and universities that participate in the NAIA are smaller schools, therefore there are many private colleges. However, not only do American schools participate in the NAIA, there are also a few Canadian schools that participate. Within these 300 universities and colleges, there are over 60,000 student-athletes that compete in 13 different sports.

As mentioned earlier in the quotation, the NAIA gives the opportunity to prospective and current student-athletes to attend college with an athletic scholarship. There is a generous amount of financial aid that is given to student-athletes per year. The NAIA estimate the amount of financial aid given to student-athletes to be more than $450 million per year. Perhaps you can look at getting some of this financial aid for yourself while you attend an NAIA school! Check out the many scholarship opportunities there are in the “Students” section of the PlayAtlantic webpage.

Similarly to the NCAA, the NAIA have their own Eligibility Centre. Like the NCAA, the NAIA also have certain academic expectations that must be met in order to be eligible to compete. First of all, you must graduate from high school. You must also achieve two out of three requirements that are stated on the website. One has to do with your SAT or ACT result, another has to do with your high school GPA, and the last one has to do with your rank of your high school class. However, these standards are fairly reasonable which gives a wide range of academic and sporting abilities the chance to compete at college level.

Hopefully you are now aware of what the NAIA is and will consider NAIA schools as they are offered to you. Although most NAIA schools are small and generally private, don't disregard it straight away just because you want to go to a large school. There are so many opportunities available for you, so make sure you make the right decision for you. 

By Mika Deane