The Trust Scholarship Award Benefit

Degree completion and vocational training are critical opportunities for a successful transition for former players, which is why The Trust’s education program includes a scholarship award benefit for meeting those goals.

The Trust awards scholarships to eligible former players so they may obtain degrees at educational organizations, vocational institutions, technical programs and professional licensing programs. Such programs must adhere to the Qualifying Programs Guidelines.

Starting a new career at 33 years old can be kind of scary but going back to school gave me the opportunity to realize I could compete outside of playing football.

Will Poole, former NFL defensive back


A former player is eligible for The Trust Scholarship award benefit subject to the following requirements:

  • The former player must have completed at least two (2) Credited Seasons;
  • The former player must have activated their Trust benefits. (To activate your benefits you must have completed the intake process with a Program Manager/ Specialist and signed the necessary Release Forms.)

Former players who reside in the United States must meet one of the following requirements:

  1. Be a legal resident of the United States
  2. Have been granted permanent residency
  3. Have a valid visa that does not prohibit educational studies
  4. Have been granted temporary protected status along with approved Notice of Action issued by Citizen Immigration Services and verified through CIS Form g-845
  5. Have been granted asylum along with the approved Notice of Action issued by the Citizen Immigration Services.

Qualifying Programs Guidelines

For tax and other purposes, The Trust maintains guidelines to determine which programs will qualify for scholarship funding from The Trust (“Qualifying Programs”).

Qualifying Programs are generally those programs for which the prospective scholarship recipient is:

  • Pursuing studies or conducting research to meet the requirements for an academic or professional degree at a college or university that qualifies as an “educational organization” (more information on what constitutes an “educational organization” can be found below)
  • OR a full or part-time student at an “educational organization” that:
    • Provides a program that is acceptable for full credit toward a bachelors’ or higher degree OR offers a program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation
  • Is authorized under federal or state law to provide such a program
  • Is accredited by a nationally recognized accreditation agency (agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education: Organization” is defined in the Internal Revenue Code as one whose primary function is the presentation of formal instruction and that normally maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at the place where it carries on its educational activities. A non-exhaustive list of factors to consider in evaluating whether an organization will be considered an “educational organization” are (i) whether the primary function of the organization is education (or whether education is just one of many programs or services it provides), (ii) whether qualified teachers instruct the students, and the same teachers do so on a recurrent basis, and (iii) whether the organization offers a regular curriculum that is inter-related (or whether it offers ad-hoc educational programing).
    IRC 170(b)(1)(A)(ii).

    The Trust reserves the right to interpret this policy in its sole discretion or amend this policy at any time, with or without notice. The Trust also reserves the right to reject any applicant or any program in its sole discretion, regardless of whether such program constitutes a Qualifying Program.

Application Process

Prerequisite to receiving Application:

  • Trust Referral: The former player must be formally enrolled in The Trust and have a referral sent to AthLife by his Program Manager/Specialist no later than one week before the scholarship deadline.

It is the former player’s responsibility to submit a completed and signed application along with all the supporting documentation, which must be received on or before the specified deadline. A complete application includes: general information, confirmation of enrollment plan review by Athlife, program information, enrollment plan information and funding request.

Receipt of Application Link:

  • Application Phase 1 (consists of the following key components)
    • Scholarship Webinar: The former player must view a recording of the webinar and complete a questionnaire signifying completion.
    • Enrollment Plan: The former player must complete an Enrollment Plan To indicate how he intends to utilize the scholarship funds each academic term.
  • Application Phase 2 (consists of the following key components)
    Once the AthLife advisor approves the enrollment plan from phase 1 of the application, the former player must complete phase 2 of the application which includes the following components:
    • Program Acceptance: The former player must have been accepted into a program before submitting an application or must be enrolled or must be enrolled and must attach to the application evidence of such acceptance that is satisfactory to the Plan. This is not required for vocational programs.
    • Request of Funding: Submit a formal request of funding detailing how the funds will be used and disbursed.
    • Essay(s): In addition to a completed application, the Former Player must prepare and submit completed essays. The essays should contain information revolving around the former player’s desire to advance his education. For the initial application essay responses must be between 500-1000 words. For subsequent application essay submissions, please refer to the specific word response requirements set forth in the application.
    • Transcripts: The former player must obtain and submit copies of his proof of undergraduate completion as part of the application process. This is required only for graduate school applicants.*
  • Application Submission Deadline: The completed application and all other required material must be submitted by 11:59 PM EST on the day of the application deadline.

Application Schedule

Scholarships are awarded three times a year. Eligible former players must be enrolled in The Trust and working with their Program Manager toward an educational/professional goal in their gameplan.

2021 Application Schedule:*


Open Application / Deadline

Award Notification Date

Period 1

February 15 – March 12

April 16

Period 2

May 31 – June 25

July 30

Period 3

September 27 – October 22

December 3

*The former player must be formally enrolled in The Trust and have a referral sent to AthLife by his Program Manager no later than one week before the scholarship deadline.

Scholarship Awards

A former player is eligible to receive:

  • For undergraduate and graduate degrees, a former player may receive up to $20,000 (USD) per calendar year.
  • For qualified vocational institutions, technical programs and professional licensing programs, a Former Player may receive up to $5,000 (USD) per calendar year.

Please note there is an aggregate cap of $20,000 per eligible Former Player, per calendar year (i.e., max amount for undergraduate/graduate degrees and/or qualified vocational institutions, technical programs and professional licensing programs is $20,000 per calendar year).

The Trust Scholarship Award Benefit covers tuition and mandatory school fees, only. Books, room & board, registration fees, travel, late fees, school fines and parking are not a covered. The Scholarship Award Benefit expires on December 15th of the calendar year in which you were awarded. Invoices must be received by The Trust no later than December 15th at 11:59PM ET. Any unused or unapplied amounts do not extend or carry over beyond the expiration date.

Scholarship FAQs

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