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How Athletic Scholarships Work: A Quick Guide To Paying For College

ByScotty Jenkins

4 min read

How Athletic Scholarships Work: A Quick Guide To Paying For College

It is no secret that college is expensive, and as time goes on, the price continues to increase. Despite misconceptions, academic and athletic scholarships are often not enough to cover tuition, room, board, and supplies. These rising costs has resulted in more that 85 percent of students re living financial aid in order to pay for school.

As a high school athlete getting recruited for college, it is essential to keep cost in mind and think about how you plan to pay for college and get familiar with different options such as scholarships, financial aid, and student loans.

So, how much does college really cost?

The US News and World Report states that the average fees for a private college in the United States is $35000 and $21100 for out of state students at public colleges. In-state students payed an average of $10000 at public colleges.

However, the cost can actually depend on various different factors. For example the location of the college and if it is urban, rural, or suburban can change the cost of room and board as well as miscellaneous costs.

Another factor is if the college is in-state and if the student opts to live at home. If you receive several offers from colleges as a student athlete, it is best to use an online calculator which can help compare different colleges and your out of pocket costs after receiving athletic scholarships and possibly some academic scholarships.

As mentioned earlier, student athletes can pay for college through academic scholarships, merit scholarships, athletic scholarships, student loans, and financial aid or need based grants.

Academic scholarships are given based on academic performance in high school and include your ACT or SAT scores, overall GPA, as well as coursework including AP and honors classes. Merit Scholarships are related to academic performance but also reward students who participated in extracurricular activities throughout high school, including athletics. Athletic Scholarships are given to students at the discretion of the coach, and not all scholarships are full ride— some are partial. Each sport has an allocated number of scholarships and funds so higher-level recruits often receive full scholarships over the rest of the team.

The amount of your athletic scholarship is an important consideration when comparing several colleges. Other types of scholarships include those from military involvement, legacy scholarships, first generation student scholarships, or a scholarship for pursuing a certain major.

Even if you are being awarded an athletic scholarship, make sure you look for additional academic scholarships online and on the school’s website as these can significantly cut down the amount you will have to pay out of pocket.

If you plan on attending a DI or DII college, the NCAA has a set of eligibility requirement based upon student’s high school academic success including minimum test scores and grade point averages. This is important to keep in mind, and highlights why it is important as well as beneficial to balance academics with sport success.

When it comes to athletic scholarships, people widely believe that all of those who participate in college athletics receive one. However, this is not true and the amount as well as if a student receives one usually depends on the sport the student is participating and the funds allocated to that sport by the college, as well as the ranking of the player during the recruiting process.

The NCAA states that less than two percent of high school student athletes receive a full or partial athletic scholarship. Additionally, full and partial athletic scholarships are only offered by NCAA Division I and Division II schools, while Division III colleges do not offer athletic scholarships but offer merit and academic scholarships.

Athletic scholarships can be used for tuition, fees, room and board, and miscellaneous fees. Even full rides scholarships do not often cover transportation between campus and home ( if living off campus), meals outside of school, medical insurances if necessary, textbooks, and social activites.However you should consult with your coaches and athletic staff who can help you fully understand the extents of your scholarship and what you can put the money towards.

If you do not qualify for any scholarships and did not receive an athletic scholarship, there are still options to pay for college. One of these is  Financial Aid or need-based grants. These are awarded to students based upon their family and personal financial needs.

High school students should fill out the FAFSA form in the fall or spring semester of their senior year to qualify. Another option is student loans and students can get either federal or private loans to pay for college. The loans usually must be paid over a set period of time, sometimes while still in school or shortly after they graduate. These options can be discussed with a parent and guidance can be provided by counselors, coaches, and other resources  provided by your chosen college’s athletic department.

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