Between the 3 NCAA divisions, Division 3 is the largest with about 450 schools/institutions. Although at least five sports are offered at all Division 3 schools, academics are the primary focus. Division 3 institutions are a great option for those searching for a more well rounded college experience. Compared to Division 1 and Division 2 schools, Division 3 schools are much less athletic focused. Although athletes still participate in weekly practices and other requirements, Division 3 schools aim to allow student athletes to feel much more like other students. 87% of Division 3 athletes graduate, so academically these universities are very successful.
Attending a Division 3 school greatly decreases one's chances of going professional in the sport. Compared to Division 1, the lower division produces a much smaller proportion of professional athletes.
The NCAA Division 3 does not offer official athletic scholarships to their athletes. This is the defining characteristic of Division 3 schools compared to Division 1 and Division 2. However, Division 3 institutions often still give financial benefits to student athletes via grants or need-based scholarships to academically qualified athletes. The rules regarding scholarships state that financial aid should be granted to student athletes using the same requirements as the general student body. The financial benefits cannot be granted based on athletic or physical performances. So although Division 3 schools are not allowed to grant athletic scholarships, they often give student athletes financial assistance in other ways.
Division 3 athletes do not need to register with the NCAA. Athletes attending Division 1 and Division 2 schools register with the NCAA to ensure they meet their eligibility standards. However, in Division 3, schools set their own standards for athletes to follow. Division 3 athletes' eligibility is determined by their schools, so the requirements can be higher or lower than NCAA standards. Division 3 schools are not allowed to use the National Letter of Intent or any similar documents to pre enroll athletes in a way that differs from the rest of the student body.
Division 3 schools do not give our full ride athletic scholarships like Division 1 or Division 2 schools. As mentioned previously, Division 3 schools do not give any athletic based scholarships. They provide financial aid to student athletes as if they were any other student. If a student athlete were to obtain merit-based scholarships or grants, their aid may add up to full tuition. However, it is not considered a full ride athletic scholarship. Student athletes can gain scholarships through academics, extracurricular activities, and other areas just like other applicants.