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Can You Sign an NLI without a Scholarship?

Can you sign an nli without a scholarship

Receiving a scholarship after several years of hard work is one of the most exciting movements for students. In the same manner for the athletic students, it is a very honorable moment when they receive any verbal offer of a scholarship. Nothing is official between the provider and the student until they sign the NLI (National Letter of Intent). NLI is signed by the individuals to protect the conversation between them regarding scholarships. Here, we will discuss whether the national letter of intent is important to sign or not, whether can you sign an NLI without a scholarship, the reasons for signing an NLI without a scholarship, and who is eligible to sign an NLI.

What is NLI?

NLI stands for the National Letter of Intent. It is an agreement that binds student-athletes and an NLI member institution. This document is proof of the commitment of student-athletes to participating in NCAA National Collegiate Athletic Association colleges in the US. For signing the NLI, some specific dates are decided by the official and these dates are different for different sports. These dates are known as Signing Days. NLI is used by Division 1 and Division 2 schools and colleges. Division 3 colleges banned the use of NLI. There are 676 institutions of Division 1 and 2 are involved in the NLI agreement. The athlete’s commitment to the institution for one academic year is signified by the agreement. On the other hand, institution promises to provide athletic financial scholarship.

Can You Sign an NLI without a Scholarship?

Yes, you can sign an NLI without a scholarship. It is not common in the market because NLI is signed by student-athletes in some consideration means in exchange for financial aid. NLI is the agreement that signifies the athlete’s enrollment and participation in the institution. There are some reasons available through which NLI is signed without a scholarship and these reasons are mentioned below.

Reasons for Signing an NLI without a Scholarship

The major reasons that force the students to sign an NLI without a scholarship are as follows.

  • Policies of the Institution: The policies of the institution insist students for signing up for the NLI without a scholarship. The reasons for making these policies are the number of scholarships available, the level of funding for sports, and the overall policies of athletic financial aid.
  • Academic Scholarships: Sometimes even with good academics, students have to sign an NLI to get eligible for the scholarships. NLI agreement is related to athletic scholarships and when the academic scores of a student give them a warranty of getting a scholarship then at that time signing an NLI becomes important. It secures the commitment between the student and the institution for the scholarship. Academic scholarships are related to merit-based financial aid.
  • Partial Scholarship: Some athletic scholarships cover the partial amount of the education means do not cover the full education expenses. To retain these scholarships and to prove their commitment to the institution, students have to sign the NLI.
  • Sports without Scholarship: Some sports are referred to as non-scholarship sports. Also, they were called non-revenue sports. Less or limited scholarships are available for the sports that are less popular means not popular as football and basketball. So, to earn scholarships in low-profile sports students have to sign an NLI that will be the evidence of their participation in the institution’s sports team. With this, they can earn scholarships shortly.
  • Walk-ons: The walk-on candidates are those whose spot is fixed in the institution’s athletic team. The students will not get scholarships. They have to sign an NLI for the walk-on status. The walk-on is not eligible to get financial aid based on their athletic skills but if they commit themselves to the institution’s program then they may be awarded scholarships. So, the scholarship award is based on the level of performance of the walk-on.

Therefore, these are some reasons why students are required to sign the NLI agreement without a scholarship to get eligible for the scholarship in the future they have to sign NLI.

When is the Right Time to Sign an NLI?

The signing days of the NLI are fixed by the institutions and all sports NLI’s are not signed on one day. The different dates are fixed for different sports. If you sign an NLI in an inappropriate period then your NLI agreement is considered invalid. NLI also contains the signature of your legal guardian or your parents. After issuing the agreement, there are 7 days in which your parents have to sign the NLI. So, you have to follow the guidelines of the institution for signing the NLI.

Who can Sign an NLI?

The students who are enrolling in 4 years degree program with the institution for the first time are required to sign an NLI. Also, the students who want to take a transfer to a 2-year college after being admitted to a 4-year degree program. It means that athletic students who want to start their academic career with one institution and then want to end up with another institution with the help of a 2-year transfer are required to sign an NLI.


Students can sign an NLI agreement with the providers without a scholarship. Whether it is less common but some circumstances are available where students need to sign an NLI. To show their dedication and commitment towards the institution without any return favor of scholarship students have to sign an NLI. Based on their performance and commitment, institutions for their scholarships. Both types of scholarship such as merit-based and need-based require the NLI agreement between the student and the provider as it protects the rights of the students and gives assurance to the institution.