Attending Junior College? Make sure you’re a Qualifier and are aware of increasing academic requirements!
Athletes and coaches alike should be aware that the NCAA is increasing the academic requirements that will allow JUCO athletes to be immediately eligible for competition when they transfer to an NCAA Division I program. This is especially true for those who have not registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center and been declared a Division I “Qualifier.” (See more about Qualifiers later in this article.)
A non-qualifier who enrolls as a freshman at a JUCO this Fall will now be required to achieve the following in order to be immediately eligible for financial aid, practice, and competition upon transfer to a Division I program:
- Attend the JUCO for at least three semesters (or four quarters) as a full-time student,
- Graduate from the JUCO,
- Earn at least 48-semester hours or 72-quarter hours of academic credit acceptable by the Division I school as transferable degree credit ( including at least six-semester or eight-quarter hours of transferable English credit, three semester-hours or four-quarter hours of transferable math credit, and three semester-hours or four-quarter hours of transferable natural/physical science credit), and
- Achieve a cumulative GPA of 2.500.
For freshman enrolling at a JUCO this Fall, the 2.500 GPA requirement is an increase from the 2.000 that currently enrolled JUCO athletes are held to. In addition, the requirement of three semester hours or four quarter hours of natural/physical science credit applies only to incoming freshmen, not to currently enrolled JUCO athletes.
The academic requirements also are increasing even for those athletes who have been determined to be Division I Qualifiers! The required transfer GPA for Qualifiers who enroll at a JUCO as freshmen this Fall is also increasing from 2.000 to 2.500.
Those athletes who satisfy the other requirements and achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 2.000, but do not reach the 2.500 threshold, will be eligible for financial aid and practice in their first year of attendance at a Division I program, but will not be eligible to compete until they have served one academic year in residence.
4-2-4 transfers will also see increased academic requirements for immediate eligibility when transferring to a Division I program after time at a JUCO. The GPA requirement for these athletes will also increase to 2.500 compared to 2.000 for those athletes already enrolled in a college institution.
NCAA Division I Qualifier
High school athletes – in any sport – who desire to compete at the college level should strive to achieve the academic requirements to be a Division I “Qualifier.” This is because achieving the academic requirements for immediate eligibility upon transfer from a JUCO is easier for a “Qualifier.” A “Qualifier” has successfully passed 16 core courses in high school (as defined by the NCAA) and achieved a GPA and corresponding ACT or SAT test score that satisfy the NCAA “sliding scale.”
If an athlete has recently graduated from high school, but hasn’t yet achieved Qualifier status, they still have the opportunity to do that AS LONG AS they don’t enroll this Fall as a full-time student (at any college). This allows them more time to improve their ACT or SAT test score to achieve Qualifier status, as test scores are acceptable for NCAA purposes as long as the test was taken prior to full-time enrollment in any two- or four-year college.
National Letter of Intent Reminder
Also, athletes who have signed a National Letter of Intent with an NCAA Division I or II program for enrollment this Fall, but decide to enroll in a JUCO instead, should be aware that the NLI that they signed remains binding upon them until they graduate from the JUCO or until released from the NLI by the school that they signed with.
Rick Allen is the founder of Informed Athlete (www.informedathlete.com), a website created to educate, advise and assist families of high school and college student-athletes on issues related to athletic recruiting, academic eligibility, transfer issues and financial aid rules. He has 30 years of NCAA compliance experience in the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences, and as a consultant with college athletic departments. If you have questions about NCAA rules, contact Rick at 913-766-1235 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.