Do College Cheerleaders Get Paid? The Surprising Answer!

With recent changes to the name, image, and likeness rules in college sports, many people wonder if college cheerleaders get paid. 

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Do College Cheerleaders Get Paid?

College cheerleaders do get paid. It’s a partial or full scholarship, school stipend, or sponsorships and endorsements. Because they are not regulated like traditional athletes by the NCAA, they can receive financial compensation without losing their competition eligibility. 

Based on NCAA rulings and the policies enforced for Title IX sports, we created an informative guide about college cheerleading scholarships and whether they get paid. Keep reading to learn more. 

Cheerleading is underrated, but they are a part of many sports. And since millions of people watch college football and basketball games each year, it’s no surprise that college cheerleaders are a prominent part of these contests. 

Many college cheerleaders receive compensation other than expenses incurred while attending practices, events, or competitions. It’s either through scholarships, school stipends, or endorsement deals. 

But it’s not a salary type of payment. Instead, they may receive additional benefits such as free apparel, travel expenses for competition appearances, food credits on campus, etc. 

College cheerleaders are only paid cash through endorsements from third-party sponsorships. This is standard practice for many cheerleaders, especially the more established ones competing at more prominent schools or with a large social media following. 

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Top College Cheerleader Scholarship Comparison

Without considering any third-party payment sources like sponsorships, let’s look at the top colleges for cheerleaders. These schools offer the most money in scholarships for students to consider. 

University Of Kansas

The University Of Kansas is a premier athletics program, especially for basketball. They are also generous to the cheer team, with each cheerleader receiving a minimum of $650 per year to join the team. 

They also offer incremental increases of $100-$300 for students with good grades. The increases start at a 3.0 GPA, and more money is awarded for better grades. 

Cheerleaders also receive the following benefits at Kansas: 

  • Travel per diems every away game
  • Two tickets to football home games
  • Free Adidas apparel
  • 5% Naismith Hall discount
  • Access to all athletic facilities
  • Free workout classes
  • And much more

University Of Hawaii

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The University Of Hawaii is one of the few places that treat its cheerleaders like student-athletes based on the scholarship structure. They have 12-14 full ride scholarship scholarships for their cheerleaders available. 

There are other forms of payment, like the WUE scholarship program too. If Hawaii believes you have what it takes, there is a reasonable chance school tuition will be covered entirely by the time you get to campus. 

University of Kentucky

The University Of Kentucky consistently has one of, if not the best, cheerleading teams in the country. They have 23 national championships to show for it too. 

All squad members are offered in-state tuition scholarships. If an athlete is out of state, they will still pay tuition but at a significant discount. Holding a 3.0 or above GPA also opens up added $100-$300 bonuses. 

University of Minnesota

The University Of Minnesota is a massive school with huge student enrollment. Students get as little as $1,000 to over $60,000, depending on grades and cheer skills. They also have many different financial aid, grants, and scholarships for cheerleaders. 

Some examples of these scholarships include: 

  • Maroon and Gold Leadership Award ($12,000 per year) 
  • Gold Scholar Award ($10,000 per year) 
  • Presidential Scholarship ($1,000-$10,000 per year) 
  • National Scholarship ($1,500-$15,000 per year)
  • John & Jane Clark Scholarship ($20,000 per year) 
  • Hinman Scholarship ($7,500 per year)

University Of Delaware

The University Of Delaware has won multiple national championships in cheerleading. The recent success of the program has also caused the program to become more lucrative for incoming cheerleaders. 

Delaware residents are eligible for a scholarship of up to $7,500 to join the team. $2,000 per year is the average. Out-of-state students won’t get as much, but it’s still one of the most generous schools for cheerleaders. 

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How Do Cheer Scholarships Work? 

Technically, cheerleading is a sport, but the NCAA does not sanction it, so no official recruiting occurs. Schools do recruit cheerleaders, but not under rules regulated by the NCAA. 

This means colleges can provide scholarships and financial compensation for recruits. On average, cheerleaders will receive $500-$2,000 in scholarship money to attend the school. 

Universities have also begun offering stipends to their cheer teams to remain competitive with other elite schools in recruiting athletes and increasing attendance at sporting events. This means they are treated like athletes too. 

Some larger schools, like the University of Hawaii, are famously known for providing full athletic scholarships to cheerleaders. This is standard practice for schools that take cheerleading seriously with big sports programs. 

How Do You Get A Cheerleading Scholarship?

Follow these steps to understand cheerleading scholarships and how to get one. 

Become Familiar With Cheer Competitions

Competitions are a great way to showcase your skills and get noticed by college recruiters. Make sure to perform to the best of your ability and highlight your unique talents.

It’s best to start this younger to get more experience. Competing on a team in high school will also help cheerleaders land more lucrative scholarship offers from top-rated universities. 

Cheerleading is a team effort. College coaches need athletes who can work well with others. Demonstrate teamwork skills and a positive attitude during competitions and cheerleading practices to stand out to coaches and recruiters. 

Get Good Grades

Cheerleading scholarships are often awarded to student-athletes who are also strong academically. So, focus on maintaining good grades and securing high test scores. 

It will open more opportunities at more prestigious schools too. It’s easier for schools to offer academic scholarships to students with higher GPAs because cheerleading is not a Title IX sport. 

It’s much easier to get scholarship offers when grades are high. Coaches also consider grades a benchmark for a student’s work ethic and focus.

Reach Out To Universities 

After competing in previous events and maintaining good grades, contact college cheerleading coaches and introduce yourself. 

Inform coaches about previous experiences, skills, and achievements. Be sure to display interest in the program. Sending coaches any film of previous competitions could also be helpful. 

Many schools also host cheer camps. We always recommend cheerleaders attend these college cheerleading camps and tryouts to meet coaches and show their skills.

Apply To Schools

Lastly, finish compiling research and start applying to schools. Many cheer scholarships have deadlines, so check with each program first to ensure you meet the deadline and can qualify for a scholarship to join the team. 

Make Your Final Decision 

Finally, decide on where to go to school. This can be based on payment, the best scholarship offer, or personal preference. 

There is no right or wrong answer, only what is best for the individual athlete. We prefer the schools that have better scholarship opportunities for the average student athlete. 

Are Cheerleaders Considered College Athletes? 

Many people would agree cheerleading is difficult and the students competing are talented. But it was ruled under Title IX that cheerleading is not a collegiate sport. 

This may seem bad, but it opens the door for college cheerleaders to make money and do things traditional athletes are not allowed to do. 

The one bad thing is the impact it has on scholarship availability. The cheerleading team and cheerleading coach need to find creative ways to bring in players with a unique recruiting process. 

Smaller schools don’t have the budget to recruit as much because they don’t have any full-ride scholarships to offer. This means they lose out to schools with bigger budgets, causing the playing field to be a bit uneven. 

Key Takeaways

  • Colleges do not pay cheerleaders, but they have cheer scholarships to join the team. It’s also possible for cheerleaders to get paid for sponsorships and sign lucrative endorsement deals. 
  • The best college cheerleader scholarships are from the University Of Kansas, the University Of Hawaii, the University of Kentucky, the University of Minnesota, and the University Of Delaware. 
  • Technically, cheerleaders and cheerleading is not classified as a college Title IX sport, so it’s allowed for the players on the team to get paid directly from sponsors or the school.