Merit aid for lacrosse playing daughter

Our rising 12th grade daughter is late to the lacrosse recruiting world. Neither of her parents were college athletes and the game is very different than I expected. As parents of college athletes know, outside of the tip top 1%, most families do the recruiting and start in 9th or 10th grade. We are getting a very late start but she would like to try.

That said, our daughter is a very good fit for a D3 lacrosse program and would be considered quite “recruitable” based on what we have learned. 4.0 unweighted GPA, 33 ACT on try #1, 3 sport athlete, Editor in Chief of paper as Junior (rare at her school) and some attractive service. Her lacrosse skills would make her a good fit for most any D3 school based on how she competed this year against college going players, including those playing at D1 schools.

The issue, like so many posters on CC, is cost. We currently have a rising junior in college and when he applied our EFC was roughly 40k. With both in college for 1 year, we will see a little bit of FA for year 1 but then it will likely go to 40k EFC or more which we can’t afford without 50% of that in loans. We won’t allow her to exit undergrad with 80,000 in debt as we know from others that is a tremendous burden to have entering into young adult like and likely grad school. So like many others here, we are on the hunt for merit assistance but with the added curveball of D3 womens lacrosse.

She has expressed interest in the 2 Claremont lacrosse programs. From my little bit of internet research, none of the Claremont colleges seem to offer generous merit aid. Curious if anyone can confirm and/or if being a recruitable lacrosse athlete might factor in. Or other ideas. We are in Oregon but she is not set on staying close to home.

Is she on a club team? If yes, I’d have the coach reach out to the schools you are interested in or at least discuss with the club coach. They often have good contacts. so do some school coaches. Recruiting isn’t what it used to be. My kid quit lacrosse in 11Th grade in favor of something else. In hindsight, that was a good move due to Covid. Lots of kids didn’t get recruited. Some repeated and some just went to college without it. My kid found it physically exhausting to do lacrosse everyday and still keep up grades and other activities. Kid realized that college lacrosse wasn’t in the cards.

I think it will improve in the years ahead, but you have to make contact with the coaches and also go to tournaments where college coaches can see her. This is expensive. You need film and all the rest. There are plenty of kids with pretty good grades and pretty good skills. They are looking for kids with outstanding skills. And even then the kid has to fit the program and they need to be looking for that position. Good luck.

1 Like

Are D3 schools even allowed to take athletics into account when offering merit aid? I thought D3 schools were only allowed to offer need-based aid and academic-based aid, not athletic-based aid (because athletic scholarships are forbidden in D3.) But do schools do it anyway on the sly?


Division 3 athletes don’t receive incremental financial support based on athletic status.

In addition, her window for recruiting is almost closed as a rising senior at the end of July. Typically her club team’s summer schedule would have given prospective coach the opportunity see her play.

I also don’t mean to be impolite but you also aren’t likely in a position to evaluate her capacity to play on a collegiate level that draws from a national population. She may be a very good player but her talents and physicality and athleticism would have to stand out amongst other top tier athletes. You mention she accomplished this but it doesn’t appear any coaches contacted you. Recruiting is often a two way street.

If you have video or a strong coaches recommendation you may want to reach out to a program of interest. Depending on its level of competition you may determine a fit but you will likely be looking at a walk on opportunity and as mentioned previously you won’t receive extra aid.

Sorry not to have much to offer.


Has her coach said at what level she can play? Some D3 teams are very good, better than some D1 teams, for example. Has she spoken with any college coaches yet?

D3 schools can’t offer athletic scholarships which you probably know, nor can athletes receive more than their proportional share of the school’s merit money (yes the NCAA requires this level of detailed reporting every year).

You are correct that the 5Cs don’t offer much merit, and I am not sure any of it would approach the level needed to get you to $40K COA.

If she wants to play lacrosse she will need to look at D3 schools that are relatively less selective. On the west coast you might look at Occidental, U Puget Sound, Whitman, Willamette and Chapman.

Other ideas: Trinity CT, Connecticut College, U Rochester, RIT, Skidmore, Oberlin, Denison. Posters can give more suggestions if you give us more detail…geographic limitations, urban/suburban/rural, major, etc.

What schools are on her current list, schools where she wouldn’t be a lacrosse recruit?


The Claremont colleges are very difficult to get academic scholarships from. They give great need based aid though. My 2023 strongly considered Pomona and Claremont McKenna, we toured them, met with one of the coaches etc. (Not Lacrosse) FYI schools like those are filled with kids with your daughters stats, or more likely higher. If you’re chasing merit, look at schools with a higher acceptance rate where a 4.0 student is among the stronger of the admitted students.


Agree with using the current coaches and club coaches to help. Even the boys’ team coaches can help. They all know someone’s uncle/brother/college roommate who knows someone else. It is a very small group and everyone knows each other.

Getting recruited to a D3 school can get you accepted, but it doesn’t get you any extra merit money. the NCAA still makes schools prove they aren’t giving more money to athletes. Whatever she’d get from the Claremont colleges without lacrosse is what she’d get with lacrosse - lax might just tip the scales in favor of acceptance.

You don’t say what she wants to study.

My daughter sort of did the same thing and said she didn’t want to play in college, and then toward the end of junior year said she wanted to play, and wanted to play D1! Sorry, honey, that ship sailed without you. We started hunting and visiting schools. There were in fact a few D1 schools she was recruited to but they weren’t winning teams and academically weren’t great fits for her. She was also recruited to some D3 schools (again, great schools but not great teams). My daughter didn’t want to go to an LAC, and especially didn’t want to go to one in Ohio, Indiana, or Kentucky. We found the sweet spot at Div 2 schools, both with academics and sports. Daughter decided (also late to the game) that she wanted engineering, and after looking at a few schools that had 3+2 engineering that she wanted ‘full’ engineering for all 4 years. I happened to be reading about a new program starting at Florida Tech and that worked out great for her. Team struggled for 2 years and then got really good. The engineering was perfect for her. She got a merit scholarship and an athletic scholarship, and since it was in Florida (where we were living) she also got to use Bright Futures, a resident scholarship, and any other local scholarships she could get.

Was it the perfect school? No, she really wanted to go to school in California. Was it the top D1 lax school in Florida (at that time UF, #4 in the rankings)? No, she could never have been recruited or even made the team as a walk on. But, she started every single game for 4 years, played almost every minute of every game, and went to the NCAA tournament twice at the D2 school.

Lax is growing in the west. Your daughter may find a new program like mine did. They are willing to pay for good players (athletic merit if D1 or D2). Some of my daughter’s middle school teammates started college lax at a school in California but jumped to D1 ASU when ASU added the sport (in 2015 or 2016). Those girls would never have been recruited to D1 programs on the east coast but a new program? Good fit. She also had former teammates go to big D1 programs (one to BC) but those kids, who were top players in hs, never got off the bench in college (and their scholarships were tiny).

There are several D2 schools in the west with ‘up and coming’ lax programs. Regis U, Colorado Mesa, Western (in Utah). If your daughter is interested in engineering, the Colorado Mesa program is run by CU for jr/sr years and the diploma would say U of Colorado on it. It is also a WUE school so cheaper tuition for an Oregon resident for at least the first 2 years.

Lax in the west is very different from lax in New England and the mid-Atlantic states. It is almost impossible to be recruited unless you are a top top top player (best in the state) AND if you know someone to one of those NE/mid’A schools. Look at their rosters and you’ll see almost everyone comes from that area and ‘lax royalty’, having played since they were 5 years old. The best female college lax player for the last 2 years is from Texas, and she’s considered a unicorn. If your daughter didn’t play club and didn’t travel to tournaments on the east coast, the coaches won’t know her. Just went to an international tournament and the announcers were STILL talking about where the players played club lax when they were in 6th grade! Like I said, a very small community where everyone knows everyone else.


It is not too late for some schools but it is for others. Make a list of the schools she’d like to go to without lax, then a list of the lax programs she thinks would be a fit and see if any schools are on both lists. If not, then she needs to decide if lax is important and where she’s willing to make the compromise. Location? Type of school (big school or LAC)? Team winning record or just happy to have playing time?

Some schools have club lax but that will cost YOU (and club doesn’t get you accepted to the school). My niece played club at USD and really enjoyed it for 3 years before she decided she wanted to be in student government. I will also say that lax made my daughter a much better student. She had to organize her time, get her assignments done in advance of weekend travel, get sleep (I knew where she was at 10 pm - in BED). She made lifelong friends. She just played in an international tournament and 3 of her old teammates traveled to the event to support her.

Good luck.


Where do you place affordability vs lacrosse ? In other words, you’d be at $20k a year or less all in at schools like Bama , UAH, Arizona. Perhaps they have club teams. These are auto merit. There’s more.

Or if you want an LAC both Oglethorpe and Hendrix have programs to match your flagship tuition although those aren’t assured.

Given your desire not to saddle debt on your kid…good choice….is a large public with Honors College acceptable even if it reduces lacrosse to a lesser level ??

Btw. The EFC matters less. You should run, for example, the Claremont NPC to see what they say. All schools are different.

Some schools like Bradley and Hofstra plus publics like Mizzou and ASU will tell u up front in their NPC (scholarships) but I think most just include need.

1 Like

Honestly, my kid was a goalie, we thought briefly about playing the game (college+lax recruiting) and quickly realized we also were late. This thought process happened in 10th grade. Her peers were on club/travel teams since elementary…and several had commits lined up by junior year.

The amount of $ you’d spend on this is totally not worth the scholarships that are realistically available. There just isn’t that much money for lacrosse.

Better to spend it on test prep, if chasing merit is the goal. It’s totally fine to look for lax programs in colleges you target, but don’t go down the recruiting path - recipe for disappointment at this stage.
Just mho.


Excellent, helpful advice here (and the others too).

Interesting your point about the reporting of proportional share of merit $. Of course this makes sense so programs don’t say “We don’t give athletic scholarships but wink wink, here’s our Provost/Dean/Presidents scholarship and don’t worry that your stats are not as high as our other recipients.”

We recently met with one of the big recruiting companies. There are 2 big ones and they both charge a lot for their services. The advisor told us that absolutely D3 colleges will increase their “package” when other competing schools are recruiting the same athlete. That when you are accepted to school 1 with a grant of X dollars another school will sometimes match or beat that amount. She was a former D2 coach so I assumed it was not a phony sales pitch tactic.

Like I shared earlier, this idea of playing in college is new. She had it, dropped it during COVID and now is interested again. And she knows she is behind the game and that is OK. Thanks to all who took time to post. I had assumed as much about the Claremont area schools.

PS. To the point about feedback from local coaches and her club coach… Her club coach is not a go getter at all when it comes to recruiting. She is a former D3 coach and runs this club for her business. Unfortunately, it is the best option in our area with the best players and competition. The local D3 coaches who have approached our daughter told her they expect her to play at a higher level but to certainly let them know if she planned to stay local and wanted to play.

100%. My kid was late to the game. Still Club lacrosse was 5k/year and tournaments and travel another 5 at least. Over a couple of years that’s a lot of $. And since there aren’t full scholarships, it wasn’t a good investment. My kid liked it for a few years, played competitively and moved on. Our close friends had a Div I kid who went all the way. Still wasn’t worth it financially. My friend said by the time you added up the morning routines at Div I school, afternoon, travel etc, their Div 1 kid was making less than minimum wage. Kid was #11 nationally when recruited. Ended up playing 3 years in college then stopping.


Check out Denison. Our lacrosse goalie committed there and is a fantastic player. They can be generous with merit aid. About being late, my D’s friend applied to Kalamazoo as a senior and listed lacrosse on the Common App and the coach called to ask if she wanted to be on the team.


My daughter got $60k+ in lax athletic money (plus $80k in academic merit from the school). No way did I spend more than $5-7k for her playing from age 7 to high school, including 3 years of club teams, and most of that was jr year of high school. She did have a friend who spent $10k/yr on lax but she did not even apply for athletic scholarships. It can be done but doesn’t have to be.

I considered the money I spent to be the same as paying for piano lessons or girl scouts or being on the swim team - it was not money spent to go to college but to prepare her for life. It was her EC.

When my daughter was applying for her job after college, the only thing they wanted to talk about was her lax experience, her being a captain, how she stayed organized with college sports. When she was in the recent tournament, her office mates watched her play (it was on ESPN+), and her boss watched her on Sunday.

I’d not give up if OP’s daughter wants to do it. It will take some research and some compromise. Shes not going to get recruited to Syracuse or Maryland or Stanford, or to top D3 schools like Gettysburg or Middlebury. The 5C’s? Maybe, but it sounds like finances might not work out.

I would NOT pay a recruiting service. Find the schools you like with a program that might work and contact the coaches. My daughter did not make her first recruiting visit (D1 school) until July of (rising) senior year, and she had several offers by October. We were lucky that a dad from her high school team had recorded the games and gave us the footage and she’d played in a few club tourneys in the summer that recorded games that all college coaches had access to those (we would just say ‘look at game 122 at the 22 minute mark’). She organized all her stats, awards, grades, test scores, etc. for coaches. And then she just started contacting them. Many did say their teams were full but others were interested.


Glad it worked out for you! We were not in the same league (literally, not in a good lax area)! But also, we struggled to deal with the time involved just for a school team. We looked at club/travel and knew we couldn’t devote the time. It is a big commitment. But it’s great to hear it worked for you.

1 Like

Please do not use a recruiting service, your D does not need it. It is not worth the money at all, stay here on CC and posters can give you good guidance. These services talk a good game, stoke your fear levels, say they have coach contacts etc etc, but many of their emails go unanswered by coaches, some schools even have emails from those services go straight to the trash. I’ll stop there.

Your D needs to:

1)Talk to her coach and see realistically what levels and conferences she should target. She doesn’t need her coach to do anything on her behalf now. She should keep her coach in the loop.

2)Get her game and highlight film in order. She can put the film on a youtube channel (one that she creates), and pin a 2 min max highlight film on her twitter account.

3)Start filling out recruiting questionnaires on each team’s website. Cast a wide net.

4)Follow up the recruiting questionnaires with an email to all the coaches. The head coach, assistants, and recruiting coordinator (not all schools have that many coaches). Highlight her academics, test score, lacrosse stats, and relevant (strong) speed/strength measurements. Link to her twitter account and youtube video. Attach a resume (if she has one) and unofficial 6 semester transcript.

5)See if she gets any replies. Some schools’ recruiting classes will be full, others won’t be, but it will take time and effort for her to find these opportunities. Follow up in a week if she hasn’t received a reply.

6)Continue fleshing out the parallel second list of schools where she would not be a recruited athlete.

7)Stay in contact with the local D3 coaches who have expressed interest, if those schools interest your D.

Good luck and keep us updated.


Here is a list of most schools with lax programs. The rankings are not current but it will let you know which schools offer programs. There are quite a few schools not listed in the D2 lists (I think there was about 120 programs and only 50 are listed.

Rollins is a great school and a great program. I love the coach. Lindenwood and Queens (Charlotte NC) are moving to D1.


Very solid plan that matches our thinking. Thank you for the detail. And yes, she is working on a “non lacrosse” pathway as well.


I think a bigger issue that you have is that you need a school that stacks merit aid on top of financial aid or gives very large merit scholarships. Most schools are not clear if they stack. Otherwise you need a school that gives enough merit to get the cost below $40k. I really don’t think that lax helps at all because you will be chasing the big merit so she would have to be academically high in their class.


For posters concerned about the OP’s D qualifying for good merit aid; she is probably qualified for any level of school, regardless of her lacrosse skills. There are definitely schools that would give significant merit aid to her. Now how that might combine with lacrosse is a different matter, but she is a well-qualified student.

Does this mean that the budget is $20k/year? Or, what would your family be willing and able to pay for without taking out loans (you or her)?


This is why I asked if an Arizona, Arizona, UAH and even others like FSU…if they might work. The first three are an assured $20k. There are others too. I also mentioned Hendrix and Oglethorpe potentially matching state flagship cost to go smaller. Wouldn’t be $20k but likely under $40k.

It may not be the school type of dreams and lacrosse may need to be at the club level but $ wise it would work and Honors can help shrink the school size at some level.

At $20k there has to be a trade off. Something has to give. School size ? Sport ? Something else ?

1 Like