For Parents


For Parents

Parents and guardians play a key role in planning the collegiate athletic career path of their children. Student-athletes rely on them to advise, support and steer them during the eligibility and recruiting process. Learn all you can now to help your student connect with coaches, get scholarships, and succeed at the next level.


Get in the Game!



The NAIA Experience for Parents

Student-athletes come first in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). They are the inspiration that drives us to make character a core component and benefit of all intercollegiate sports. Read on to learn what you can expect from your NAIA experience.

In the NAIA, your student-athlete can compete during four “seasons of competition” within the first 10 semesters (or equivalent) in college. A season of competition is charged when they participate in one or more intercollegiate contests whether at the varsity, junior varsity, or freshman level or in elite-level, non-collegiate competition. To compete, student-athletes must be enrolled in at least 12 hours every semester or quarter and be making normal progress toward a bachelor’s degree. They must also meet freshman and/or continuing eligibility rules.

NAIA Recruiting Rules encourage coach-student and personal relationships. Benefits of NAIA recruiting rules include:
  • No recruiting calendar restrictions of any kind
  • The ability for high school students to freely communicate with NAIA coaches directly
  • The ability for college students to communicate with NAIA coaches. They don't need permission to respond to your child but the NAIA institution must notify your child's current institution that contact has been made.

Students are permitted a maximum of two days of tryouts throughout their entire athletic career. If a school has a policy for reimbursing all students for such visits, the same can be applied to your child as a prospective student-athlete.

As an association, the NAIA does not have a letter of intent program in which students sign a binding agreement to participate in athletics at a particular institution. Student-athletes may sign letters of intent with an individual NAIA school, however, they aren’t obligated to attend that institution. That said, some NAIA conferences require their member schools to recognize letters of intent that are signed with other institutions within the conference. Please check with the prospective school to see if any conference programs apply.

To participate in athletics in the NAIA, your child must be admitted to the college or university under admission standards equal to or higher than those applied to the general student body.

NAIA rules on financial aid are straightforward. Each school determines how much aid it awards to an individual student-athlete. Under no conditions may anyone else provide direct financial assistance to any student-athlete. Scholarships, grants-in-aid, or student loans are controlled by each institution through the same committee that handles all student loans and scholarships.
Financial aid to student-athletes is limited to the actual cost of:
  • Tuition
  • Mandatory fees, books, and supplies are required for courses in which the student-athlete is enrolled
  • Room and board based on the official room and board allowance listed in the institution’s catalog

Each sport has an overall limit on the amount of financial aid it can award as full or partial grants to students in that sport.

Academically gifted students can be exempted from these limits if they meet grade or test score criteria established by the NAIA.

NAIA eligibility requirements depend on your child's individual academic and athletic history. They should register at as early as possible to access helpful tips and a detailed resources menu. As a parent/guardian you can also register and pair with your student(s) to follow along and gain access to similar detailed resources.

Set your student on the path to eligibility

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Evaluate all their options 

There are often more opportunities for both playing time and scholarships in small-college athletics like the NAIA, with smaller roster sizes and junior varsity/reserve programs. Assess your student-athlete’s skills. Network and compare options with other parents who have gone through the process. Know there are more options outside of NCAA D1, D2, and D3, - only 1% go on to NCAA Division 1.


Get an early start

Even as early as their freshman year, academics matter. Have your student register with NCSA to showcase their future eligibility status to NAIA member institutions as early as their first year in high school. Have them take initiative and fill out online recruitment forms for their top colleges. As your student’s biggest fan and videographer, compile highlight reels for those coaches that are sure to come knocking.


Academics first

Consider which schools offer your student's major. Use the NAIA's school search tool to search by sport, location, school size, and more! 


Get Eligible

Have your student register at PlayNAIA so that NAIA coaches will know they are ready and available. They can create a shortlist of schools that interest them, and they can connect with your account.

What other parents are saying

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[My son] has always wanted to take his passion for football as far as he can, so the NAIA has allowed him to do that.

Jeff Schuetz
Parent of NAIA student-athelete


See more testimonials

Questions for parents to ask the NAIA institution about financial aid 

  • What types of financial-aid agreements does your school have?
  • Which campus representatives have to sign off on the agreement for it to be valid?
  • What will the financial aid agreement cover? Housing? Food? Books? Tuition?
  • How long will the agreement last? A quarter/semester? A full academic year?
  • If my son or daughter signs a financial agreement with your institution, can she/he sign with another school within your conference without penalty?

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  • If my child quits the team after the season, will he or she continue to receive the scholarship?
  • If my son or daughter suffers a season-ending injury, will the financial aid agreement be honored?
  • If my student becomes academically ineligible, will the agreement be honored?
  • On your campus, who is responsible for checking the student-athlete’s eligibility?
  • Is there an academic support program in place for student-athletes on your campus?
  • Do you offer my student’s major?

It's never too early to get eligible




The NAIA has partnered with Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), the world’s largest collegiate athletic recruiting network. NCSA serves as the official North American recruiting services partner of the NAIA. Register your child now to use the NAIA Pre-Eligibility Indicator Tool which allows prospective student-athletes to showcase their future eligibility status to NAIA member institutions as early as their first year in high school.


Start your child's recruiting profile with NCSA 




Playnaia is the official clearinghouse for NAIA eligibility. Every student-athlete must register with the NAIA Eligibility Center to play sports at an NAIA college or university. PlayNAIA allows parents to connect their account to their student's account, enabling parents to monitor their child's eligibility progress and increase their opportunity for scholarships.


Register with PlayNAIA now