Today, the price of college is increasing almost eight times faster than wages. Playing sports in college provides is an incredible personal accomplishment and provides a vehicle to pay for college. Unfortunately, most student-athletes are offered “partial” athletic scholarships and are responsible to pay for the majority of their college fees. If this applies to you as a student-athlete, we have provided a list of best practices to help you turn your athletic and academic dreams into reality.
Do the Math
Evaluate your partial scholarship offer by calculating the total cost of attending the college. The easiest way to do this is by contacting the school’s financial aid office. It is best to break down the total cost of attending college into four parts – tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation and personal expenses.
Plan for the Difference
Between the total cost of attending college minus your partial athletic scholarship. If you find yourself left with the lion’s share of the bill, review the options below to bridge the gap.
Get a Part-Time Job
Despite your limited free time as a student-athlete, you may be able to secure a convenient job on campus with flexible hours. In addition, now that the NCAA has cleared you to pursue Name, Image, and Likeness, you may be able to secure a corporate sponsorship by leveraging your celebrity as a student-athlete (i.e., social media influencer, brand ambassador, etc.).
Leverage the Student Assistance Fund (SAF)
The SAF provides NCAA money to each school to assist student-athletes who have demonstrated financial needs. Some of this can go for needs such as clothing. For example, those suits you see players wearing before games can be paid for from this fund. In addition, the NCAA recently allows schools to pay travel expenses for players’ families to attend the men’s and women’s basketball Final Four and the College Football Playoff. This $3,000-$4,000 is meant to cover transportation, hotel, and meals for two family members per student-athlete.
Apply for Pell Grants
Pell Grants provides financial aid to students who demonstrate financial need to attend college. These grants don’t require repayment. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $6,345. The amount a student gets, though, will depend on their Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the cost of attendance (which varies by institution), status as a full-time or part-time student, and overall plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. Learn more here.
Apply for Federal and Private Student Loans
Most student-athletes are eligible for federal student loans, which often have lower interest rates than private student loans and don’t require a credit check. These loans also offer unique benefits such as income-driven repayment plans, which can make them easier to repay when you graduate. If you don’t receive enough money in loans from the government to cover college costs, consider private student loans. These loans are offered by credit unions, banks, and online lenders. However, you must have good credit and a solid income to qualify. If you don’t meet those requirements, adding a cosigner to your application may help.
Train for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC)
Olympic-caliber collegiate student-athletes are eligible to receive expenses paid for training, coaching, facility usage, equipment, apparel, supplies, comprehensive health insurance, travel, and room and board by the USOC. In a non-Olympic year, USOC money goes to top-eight finishers in individual sports and top-six finishers in team sports, with athletes limited to one award.
See the additional links below for other creative solutions to fund the rest of your college education:
Honest Game Insight: It is wise to confer with your Athletic Compliance Office before adopting any of the recommendations listed in this article.
By Kim Michelson, Honest Game Co-Founder and CEO
Kim has mentored hundreds of student-athletes through the college recruiting and eligibility process to help them attain their dream of playing collegiate sports. During her tenure as the Executive Director of Beyond Sports Foundation, 89% of their students matriculated to four-year universities on athletic scholarships. Interested in working with Honest Game? Contact us.