Do College Cheerleaders Get Paid? (Why College Cheer Squads Are Unlike Other Sports)

A group of college cheerleaders training with their male coach out in the open field.

Cheerleading has been an essential component of popular culture for decades. From Grease to the latest Netflix docuseries, Cheer, the sport has been spotlighted for its glamor, stereotypes, and difficulty. But today, we are diving into college-level cheer, which is its own breed. And it’s definitely a sport that requires sacrifice.

Do College Cheerleaders Get Paid?

A college female cheerleader being lifted up during cheer practice at an indoor court.

The quickest answer is no. College cheerleaders do not get paid for their sport. Directly, that is. Cheerleading is a unique college sport, as it’s not officially recognized under Title IX guidelines of the NCAA. 

This lack of classification is weird, to say the least. Cheerleading is a sport. Period. But it leaves college cheerleaders with more freedom than other student-athletes when it comes to endorsements and other restrictive rules the NCAA enforces, despite the enormous amounts of money these athletes make for others. 

But just because cheerleaders don’t get paid directly or qualify as an official NCAA sport doesn’t mean cheering is less intense than any other competitive activity. In fact, it’s arguably one of the most high-stress, injury-prone, and demanding sports there is. Even Greg Whiteley, director of Last Chance U and Cheer on Netflix, claims cheerleaders are tougher athletes than football players

This article will go over how cheerleaders can earn the big bucks, qualify for scholarships, and which schools are known for cheer programs and financial aid. 

Breaking Down the “Cheerlebrity”

A college cheerleader practicing with her squad on the open field.

Belonging to a sport separate from the NCAA has its perks. Cheerleaders, unlike other student-athletes, can partner with corporations like real pros. They can get endorsement deals for commercials, sell photos and autographs, become social media influencers repping their cheer outfit, and pretty much anything else pros can do (except getting paid for their labor, of course). 

How Can Cheerleaders Receive Scholarships?

Aside from academic and other general scholarships, there are financial aid possibilities through cheerleading. But the pool of applicants is highly competitive, and the scholarships are mostly partial ones or small stipends. Nevertheless, we all know that every dollar counts. Here are tips to be a true contender for a cheerleading scholarship:

  • Taking your high school cheer team very seriously from the jump is pretty much a necessity to becoming eligible. 
  • Tumbling is an extensive background that will go a long way.
  • Keeping good grades will help you stand out from others. 
  • Making sure to have reliable references that relate to cheerleading (e.g., your high school cheerleading coach) is important.
  • Also, having reliable references related to academics (e.g., school administrator or teacher) is essential.

Which Colleges Have Cheerleading Scholarships?

A pen on top of a college scholarship application form along with other desk items.

Though full rides for being a part of a cheer squad is nearly impossible to find (there are only about 12 in the country), there are still some great programs that offer partial scholarships. And with tuition on the rise, public funding for education on the decline, and the student debt crisis hitting an all-time high, students should take advantage of every financial aid opportunity. Here are some colleges that offer them:

Find more cheerleading scholarships here

Final Thoughts

Top-tier cheerleaders are incredible athletes and deserve to be recognized, respected, and financially supported in their endeavors. Since the NCAA does not qualify cheerleading as a sport, there are opportunities for college cheer squads to rack up some extra cash. There are also a growing number of scholarships available to cheerleaders to take advantage of. 

So, will you strive to become a “cheerlebrity?” Or will you apply for scholarships? Why not both? Good luck, and go team!

Written by The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a lifestyle blog about the journey of college to adulting. Here you can find the tips for college, self-improvement, adulting, and more.

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