As a general rule, under NCAA legislation, a prospective student-athlete (PSA) refers to a student who may attend a school and their college sports program. This usually refers to students that have started classes for the ninth grade and are considered as such until the twelfth grade. Some universities, such as Arizona State University, also define prospective student-athletes as someone that has not yet started the ninth grade, but has received financial assistance or other benefits from that university. In some cases, a current college student may become a prospective student-athlete if they entered the transfer portal or if they are enrolled at a two-year college or university.
One of the first things a prospective student-athlete will have to do is fill out a questionnaire form that shares information about themselves with the college program. Upon completion, the college will determine if they wish to further pursue the student-athlete by providing them with an official visit or financial incentive to join their program. Even if the prospective student-athlete decides to commit to a certain university through a national letter of intent, they are still considered a prospective student-athlete until they formally become a student-athlete. To formally become a student-athlete for a college program, prospective student-athletes must report to an institutional orientation session that is open to all incoming students within 14 calendar days prior to the opening day of classes of a regular academic year term. It is at this point that they are no longer considered a prospective student-athlete.