US College Systems

NCAA Division I (D-I)


D-I is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-I schools include the major collegiate athletic powers, with larger budgets, more elaborate facilities and more athletic scholarships than Divisions II and III as well as many smaller schools committed to the highest level of intercollegiate competition.

This level was once called the University Division of the NCAA, in contrast to the lower level College Division; these terms were replaced with numeric divisions in 1973. The University Division was renamed Division I, while the College Division was split in two; the College Division members that offered scholarships or wanted to compete against those who did became Division II, while those who did not want to offer scholarships became Division III.

For the 2014-15 school year, Division I contained 345 of the NCAA's 1,066 member institutions, with 125 in FBS, 125 in FCS, and 95 non-football schools, with six additional schools in the transition from Division II to Division I. There was a moratorium on any additional movement up to D-I until 2012, after which any school that wants to move to D-I must be accepted for membership by a conference and show the NCAA it has the financial ability to support a D-I program.

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NCAA Division I (D-II)


D-II is an intermediate-level division of competition in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It offers an alternative to both the larger and better-funded Division I and to the scholarship-free environment offered in Division III.

Before 1973, the NCAA's smaller schools were grouped together in the College Division. In 1973, the College Division split in two when the NCAA began using numeric designations for its competitions. The College Division members who wanted to offer athletic scholarships or compete against those who did became Division II, while those who chose not to offer athletic scholarships became Division III.

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NCAA 3 Division III (D-III)


D-III is a division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States. D-III consists of athletic programs at colleges and universities that choose not to offer athletic scholarships to their student-athletes.

The NCAA's first split was into two divisions, the University and College Divisions, in 1956. The College Division was formed for smaller schools that did not have the resources of the major athletic programs across the country. The College Division split again in 1973 when the NCAA went to its current naming convention: Division I, Division II, and Division III. Division III schools are not allowed to offer athletic scholarships, while D-II schools can.

Division III is the NCAA's largest division with around 450 member institutions, which are 80% private and 20% public. The median undergraduate enrolment of D-III schools is about 2,750, although the range is from 418 to over 38,000. Approximately 40% of all NCAA student-athletes compete in D-III.

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Junior College


In the United States, a junior college is a two-year post-secondary school whose main purpose is to provide academic, vocational and professional education. The highest certificate offered by such schools is usually an Associate degree, although junior college students may continue their education at a four-year university or college, transferring some or all of the credit earned at the junior college toward the degree requirements of the four-year school.

The term "junior college" historically referred to all non-bachelor's degree granting post-secondary schools. However, over the last few decades, many public junior colleges, which typically aim to serve a local community, have replaced "junior" with "community" in their names. Thus, most self-identified junior colleges in the United States today are private institutions, although only a small percentage of all two-year institutions are private.

Private junior colleges in the United States reached their peak numbers in the 1940’s and have been declining ever since. In the course of the 20th century, many public and private junior colleges evolved into four-year colleges, in some cases passing through an intermediary period as a four-year junior college.

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Community College


In the United States, community colleges (once commonly called junior colleges), and increasingly just "college’s, are primarily two-year public institutions of tertiary education. Many community colleges also offer remedial education, GEDs, high school degrees, technical degrees and certificates, and a limited number of 4-year degrees.

After graduating from a community college, some students transfer to a university or liberal arts college for two to three years to complete a bachelor's degree, while others enter the workforce.

In 2012–2013, 7.7 million people attended U.S. community colleges, with about 3.1 million students enrolled full-time, and about 4.6 million students enrolled part-time. 

During the Great Recession (2007-2009), community colleges faced state budget cuts amid increases in enrolment. As a result, community colleges raised student tuition. With enrolments decreasing, lower budgets at community colleges continues with increasing reliance on adjunct professors, who are generally paid significantly less, typically receive little-to-no employment benefits, and face much greater uncertainty of continued employment semester to semester.

Community colleges received attention in 2015 after President Barack Obama proposed to make community college tuition free to many residents of the United States in his State of the Union Address. The plan is called "America’s College Promise." This attention has brought on praise, scrutiny, and criticism of community colleges. It has also brought attention to the funding of higher education in general. This plan, however, would only pay tuition; non-tuition items such as textbooks, supplies, transportation, and room and board for those wishing to live on campus would not be covered in Obama's plan.

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Private University & Colleges


Private universities and colleges are typically not operated by governments, although many receive tax breaks, public student loans, and grants. Depending on their location, private universities may be subject to government regulation. This contrasts with public universities and national universities. Most private universities are non-profit organizations.

In the US, many universities and colleges are private, mostly operating as educational and research non-profit organizations, while there are also for-profit universities. About 20% of American college students attend private colleges. Most of the remainder attend state-supported schools.

Tuition fees at private universities tend to be higher than at public universities, though many private universities offer financial aid as well.

A number of private universities and colleges play competitive sport through the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA is a college athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America. For the 2018–2019 season, it has 251 member institutions.

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