The Ivy Coach Daily

May 21, 2024

Does Brown University Give Athletic Scholarships?

Soldiers Memorial Gate is featured at Brown University.

Does Brown University give athletic scholarships? The short answer is no! No school in the Ivy League athletic conference gives athletic scholarships. The cost of attending Brown or any other school in the Ivy League is determined by a family’s demonstrated financial need, meaning all scholarships take the form of financial aid. Does this mean that student-athletes should look elsewhere when choosing colleges? Certainly not. Admission to Ivy League schools like Brown is just as desirable for athletes as non-athletes, but the admissions process looks slightly different.

A Look at Brown University’s Athletic Recruiting

All Brown applicants, including prospective athletes, must complete a standard application through The Common Application, including the Brown University Specific Questions, to be considered. However, student-athletes experience an admissions edge over non-athletes through the recruitment process. Essentially, staff members and coaches in Brown’s athletics department flag to admissions officers which student-athletes they think would make good additions to their teams. Through a series of high school visits and game/meet viewings on the part of coaches, and all-expenses paid campus visits on the part of students, Brown flags and tags prospective athletes. 

Student-athletes are eligible for admission if they sit for a standardized test and complete their application on time. Academic eligibility is determined by an “Academic Index” calculation that takes standardized test performance and GPA into account. The academic standard for admission is not quite as high for recruited student-athletes as it is for regular Brown applicants, but strong academic performance is still necessary for admission across the board. Once a prospective athlete has applied, they will receive a “Likely Letter,” prior to receiving their letter of admission, that all but guarantees that they have a place on Brown’s team, assuming academic is maintained until admission letters arrive.

Why Doesn’t Brown Provide Athletic Scholarships?

Brown is a member of the Ivy League conference, which is unique among American athletic conferences in that it does not furnish its student-athletes with athletic scholarships. The history of this practice stretches back to the nineteenth century, when Ivy League schools established some of the first athletic programs in the nation. What started as informal recreational activities transformed into intercollegiate competitions within the Ivy League that would set the tone for college athletics everywhere else. 

Still, this initial emphasis on amateur competition for the sake of competition has prevailed to this day. Ivy League schools distinguish themselves with academically-renowned student bodies. None of these schools provide merit-based scholarships, so they would view it as contradictory to offer some students athletic scholarships, which would shift focus away from a collective culture of academic achievement.

This policy is not going anywhere, although a new policy was recently implemented by the Ivy League that allows student-athletes to receive paid third-party endorsements. Last year, student-athletes at Brown filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the Ivy League athletic scholarship policy violates antitrust laws, but it likely does not have any legal bearing.

Should Student-Athletes Steer Clear of Brown?

Academically-distinguished student-athletes should absolutely apply to Ivy League schools like Brown. Brown undergraduate financial aid “meets the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants,” a policy that has the potential to rival the amount of aid offered by athletic scholarships at other highly-selective universities. What’s more, Brown recruits niche teams for sports like water polo, equestrian, and lacrosse. Because such sports require the kind of resources and training that are only found at elite preparatory schools, recruitment pools are much smaller and admissions odds are much higher for these sports.

The doors opened by an Ivy League education make Brown and its counterparts worth it for all students. Ivy League alumni benefit from the fruits of their education for the rest of their lives. There is never a good reason for turning down these schools (or their peer elite institutions), which are usually more affordable, lead to higher paying jobs later in life, and connect students to future captains of industry. This goes for all students, not just student-athletes.

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