College is expensive. I know I'm not the first to tell you this. It's a fact many parents start thinking about when their son or daughter is just a twinkle in their eye.
It can also be a fact many parents choose to ignore, focusing instead on their hopes of reducing the cost of college for athletes. But the long and short of it is: You can't ignore the cost of college for athletes, or for any student, or you risk impacting your life for years to come.
So where to begin?
Some facts about the cost of college for athletes
Let's start with some 2014-2015 averages. The average cost of public, in-state tuition is just over $9,000/year. The average cost of public, out-of-state-tuition is just under $23,000/year. The average cost of private college tuition is just over $31,000/year.
Averages help illuminate a worst-case scenario for student-athletes and their parents: If there were no scholarship or aid, could they afford the school? Or, will it be feasible to pay back student loans for X number of years to come?
While much more goes into the cost of college (room & board, books, travel, etc.), and it's important to explore opportunities for scholarships and aid at particular schools, cost averages are a nice way to get a general sense of the baseline. They are also an easy and non-threatening topic to open the discussion as a family.
Where do they go from there when beginning to evaluate which colleges are realistically affordable, either with or without a scholarship?
Let's start with the basics. The questions below will help you narrow down the type of college that can grant you a degree in the field of study that interests you, provide you with an incredible experience as a student-athlete and come with a manageable price tag.
What is important to you in a school?
Size of school, location, majors/degrees offered, class sizes? Take some time with this one, because it will really help frame and narrow down your search.
What types of scholarship and aid does the school offer to cover the cost of college for athletes?
This info can usually be found on the college's website. But if that proves tricky, college financial aid office contacts are listed on every school website, and these people are often very easy to speak or to set up an appointment with.
For athletic scholarship and aid opportunities, the coach and his or her staff are usually your best resource. This is a discussion commonly associated with your recruitment.
How much money are your parents able to contribute across four years (if any)?
This isn't always an easy conversation to have, but it's an important one. You're going to have to complete a FAFSA to determine what the expected family contribution will be.
How much debt are you willing to graduate with?
There are many loan calculators and other resources that can help you figure out how long it will take you to pay off a loan at a certain interest rate.
Take some time to speak with your parents and others who have experience taking out and paying off student loans. Factor in possibilities for your future career and what you can expect to earn, and start to decide how much debt you are wiling to assume in order to attend a certain school.
Recruiting opportunities are another way to affect the cost of college for athletes. Our scouts are here to answer more questions about your recruiting opportunities. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.