After all the games, practices, try outs and tournaments, after all the hours in the car, on the bleachers, at the field, the court or the rink, it is now time to reap the rewards of your child’s athletic ability! For the chosen few, an athletic scholarship may help pay for college.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if your child wants to be a recruited college athlete:
- Scholarship amounts vary. Not all colleges offer athletic scholarships and even if they do, it may not be for every sport, or for the full cost of college. The athletes receiving the largest scholarships are basketball and football players –, but they are the minority of college athletes. Check the official NCAA website for a list of the Division I, II, and III teams in each sport; keep in mind that only Division I and Division II schools can offer athletic scholarships. Some leagues (such as the Ivy and the Patriot League) have their own rules on scholarships.
- An athlete can receive a non-athletic scholarship. At many Division III schools a student can receive a scholarship based on academics or leadership and still be recruited by a coach. For some this may turn out to be a better financial scenario, since most academic- or leadership- based scholarships are for all four years. Most athletic scholarships are renewed from year to year, so if the student doesn’t want to play anymore the money would be gone.
- You may give up your option to negotiate. Many college coaches will ask a student to commit to their college early so they will know who will make up their team next year. This requires that the student apply for admission early, giving up the ability to compare competing offers from other schools. In some cases, it may also remove the option to negotiate for a better offer with a competing school.
- Do your homework. All colleges offer a Net Price Calculator on their website where a family can see what they would pay if they applied for aid at that school. This estimate factors in any need-based aid the student will qualify for and at some schools it also factors in academic scholarships. Before accepting an athletic scholarship, or applying early decision, run the Net Price Calculator to see what your costs would be if there were no athletic scholarship.
- Consider what you will be saving. Having a high school athlete is expensive! When your student goes off to college you will no longer be paying all those sports related costs, but can instead redirect your cash flow to pay the college directly.