When is the best time to start looking for a football scholarship to a US college?

Playing football (soccer) in the USA while gaining a degree is becoming an increasingly popular option for many young men and women attracted by the chance to have an amazing educational, cultural and social experience without racking up a huge student debt.

For those playing at the highest level, the US college scholarship route is also a proven path into the professional game as demonstrated by SSP ambassadors Jack Harrison and Rachel Daly.

Give the scale of the opportunity, when is the right time to start the search process?

The more time you have to prepare, the better chance you have of securing a more valuable scholarship. Ideally you should start the process 18-24 months before you plan to go to US college.

The US college system has two terms (semesters) which start in August (Fall semester) and January (Spring semester). You can generally start in either semester although the most important semester for football (soccer) is currently the fall semester.

For UK students the first term of Year 12 would be an ideal time to start preparing. Though not imperative, this time allows football consultancies such as SSP the time to secure a range of scholarship offers for you to consider.

An important element of our service at SSP is giving our clients options. As players that went through the process ourselves, we were quite naïve about the sheer size of the US college sports system and were probably too willing to accept the first offers that we received. Using our experience and network of college coaches, we know that good quality players with good academics are in high
demand, so will always seek to offer our clients a number of scholarship options to choose from.

When we evaluate each individual player’s profile there are several factors we need to take into account before recommending which scholarship offer to accept. Talent, academics, finances, number of scholarships available, likely playing time, style of football, long-term ambition to go pro, type of college, preferred US region or city are all aspects that contribute to the types of scholarship offers you'll receive as a player.  
But, what if there are less than 18 months left before you want to start college in the US? Have you missed the boat?

No, not necessarily. Each year the top colleges that SSP deals with will lose some of their best players to the MLS Superdraft, which means that late scholarships often become available.

Additionally, players previously on scholarships who underperform during the season will move on, allowing money to open up. So don’t worry or panic if you think you’re too late.

As a specialist football consultancy. we are in constant contact with our college network, so would normally be able to secure a decent scholarship offer, even if you applied six months or less before you wanted to start at US college.