What is the National Letter of Intent?

posted on: Oct. 23, 2012, 11:56 a.m. | tags: NLI Web Star Recruits NCAA Recruiting


Many people are unaware of what the National Letter of Intent is, and what happens when you sign one. At first, it may seem as though it's just another scholarship or a type of financial aid. You can find more information about the National Letter of Intent at NCAA.org.

The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is an agreement between a prospective student athlete and a school that is a member of the NLI. This agreement is a guaranteed athletic scholarship for the student athlete for one year. It lets the athlete know that he or she can expect financial aid at the school, and signals the school that the athlete is prepared to join its athletic program.

Currently, 616 NCAA Division I and II schools participate with the NLI. Ivy League schools and the military academies do not, however, and Division III schools do not financially  compensate for athletics (although you might get a financial aid package for other "official" reasons). If you are trying to get recruited, find out the NLI situation ahead of time.

It's important to understand that the NLI is an agreement between the student athlete and the institution, not between college coaches and athletes. This means the student athlete must attend the school that he or she signed with for one school year (two semesters or three quarters), unless the school decides to release the student athlete before the year is up.  Below is a chart which outlines the sport and the early and regular signing period dates of the NLI.

    Sport Initial Signing Date Final Signing Date
    Basketball (Early Period)  November 14, 2012 November 21, 2012
    Basketball (Regular Period)  April 17, 2013 Div. I: May 15, 2013
    Div. II: August 1, 2013
    Football (Midyear Junior College Transfer)  December 19, 2012 January 15, 2013
    Football (Regular Period)  February 6, 2013 April 1, 2013
    Field Hockey, Soccer, Track and Field, Cross Country, Men's Water Polo  February 6, 2013 August 1, 2013
    All Other Sports (Early Period)  November 14, 2012 November 21, 2012
    All Other Sports (Regular Period)  April 17, 2013 August 1, 2013

    *This information was obtained by the NCAA.  To read more about the NLI and how it works, please visit the following website: