Talented e-jocks (aka competitive video gamers) may be eligible for university financial aid.
With competitive video gaming growing into a multimillion dollar business, complete with fan-packed arenas for live video game events and constant live game streaming on platforms like Twitch, higher ed administrators have reconsidered how they define athletes—and athletic scholarships. If your child is a talented “e-jock” (e.g., a highly skilled video game player), they may be eligible to get a scholarship to play video games for a university or college team.
To get a sense of what being an e-jock on campus is like, check out Vice’s recent story on the UC irvine ESports and financial aid program for video gamers:
Currently sponsoring teams for League of Legends and Overwatch, UC Irvine typically awards scholarships of approximately $5,600 for League of Legends players and $2,500 for Overwatch e-jocks. Additionally, the university recently spent $250,000 to build a state-of-the-art esports arena.
And UC Irvine is just one example among many. As esports leagues continue to grow, both gamer students and universities have recognized the need for standardization and shared goals across institutions. So in 2016, the National Association of College Esports was founded to encourage and promote collegiate esports in the areas of eligibility, path to graduation, and competition and scholarships. At press time, 63 universities and colleges were official NACE members, including Boise State University, Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, and Illinois College.
Beyond NACE-affiliated scholarships, there are private scholarships and internships for gamers and aspiring game designers from organizations such as the Entertainment Software Association Foundation and the International Game Developers Association.
If you’re looking for scholarship money for playing video games, keep a close watch on the NACE website and scholarship sites for new member institutions and scholarship programs. You can also speak with admissions and financial aid counselors at the schools your child is interested in attending to see if any esports majors and financial aid programs exist or are in the works.
With esports only expected to grow, playing video games may turn out to be a lucrative path to college for your gamer student.