College is a dream for many student-athletes and parents. In order for this dream to come true, student-athletes, parents, and academic coaches must work together. Costs and financial considerations should not deter student-athletes from realizing their dream of college, but the reality is it often does. Athletic coaches can help by educating themselves, in addition to parents and student-athletes, on the many different avenues to pursue when turning the challenge of college affordability into the reality of college attendance. This is why playing High School Sports can play an essential part in reducing the costs while increasing the odds of receiving Athletic Scholarships, Grants and Aid. With the current downturn in our nation’s economy, it is more important than ever to pay close attention to deadlines, act early, and be first when submitting paperwork and forms. Please take the time to read the following important information.
Scholarships and Financial Aid:
Applying for financial aid can be a confusing process, but it’s something you should definitely take the time to understand as you will have the potential for receiving a significant amount of assistance that can help pay (and/or defer) college costs.
Here are few tips concerning how schools go through the process of calculating aid for recipients.
Just because you may play High School Sports, Athletic Scholarships are much more difficult to receive than many people realize. High School Sports competition is significant, and an honest self-appraisal of one’s ability is necessary prior to beginning the process. Ask your coach to give you an objective opinion concerning the level of ability you possess and to assist you in contacting university athletic programs. Note that the NCAA & NAIA dictates strict regulations in relationship to High School Sports concerning interactions between student athletes and university officials. It is important to understand that receiving an athletic scholarship from a College or University that awards ‘Equivalency Sports Scholarships’ can substantially reduce the total amount needed to attend that school.
Eligibility for academic scholarships is usually based on a combination of national test scores SAT and/or ACT and academic performance in high school. Universities may also take into account such factors as admission essays, extracurricular activities, and counselor recommendations. Note that applicant pools vary considerably between universities. The credentials you submit may qualify you for academic scholarships at one university, but not at another. Be particularly aware of deadlines and check the schools that award merit scholarships and be aware of the ones that don’t!
Need Based Aid:
This category of funding includes a variety of programs provided by the Department of Education and the financial department of the College or University the student (athlete) plans on attending.
It is important to understand that Grants are considered “gift aid” and do not have to be repaid. Student employment provides you with an on-campus job. Educational loans (Stafford & Perkins Loans) are available to both students and parents. You initiate the application process for need-based awards by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is submitted electronically at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ and may be filed anytime after January 1 of your senior year. These awards are based on first come, first serve, so it is important that the FAFSA application is submitted as close to January 1st as possible.
The results of the FAFSA provide universities with an estimate of your family’s ability to pay for educational expenses for the next academic year. To determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), a methodology is utilized that takes into account your family’s income and assets and projects an ability to contribute to educational expenses during the next academic year. Universities then compare the EFC with their cost of attendance. The difference between these two numbers represents your “need” or eligibility for need based aid programs. The qualifying grant associated with the FAFSA application is the Pell Grant. If you qualify for the Pell Grant you automatically qualify for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (S.E.O.G.)
Cost – EFC = Need
The most important thing to remember is that the cost of the school is half of the equation. The higher the cost of attendance, the greater your chances are of having eligibility for need-based aid. Consequently, you should never rule out any school you are interested simply because you think you cannot afford it. You really won’t know until you apply for aid.
Once your need is determined, universities begin a process of “packaging” various types of aid until they either “meet your need” or until they run out of funds to offer. Here’s an example of how 2 different schools might reply to your aid application:
Examples of Calculating Need & Packaging Aid:
- Cost $13,000
- EFC $10,000
- Need $3,000
- Cost $26,000
- EFC $10,000
- Need $16,000
- Need $3,000
- Scholarship $0
- Pell Grant $1,500
- S.E.O.Grant $1,000
- Work $500
- Cost $0
School B (awarding a student-athlete participating in High School Sports)
- Need $16,000
- Scholarship $7,000
- Pell Grant $5,000
- S.E.O.Grant $2,000
- Work $2,000
- Cost $0
All universities have financial aid and admission professionals who are skilled in assisting you with the process. Take advantage of their expertise and stick with it! The potential rewards far outweigh the minor inconveniences of the process. And for further information on how to ‘Play the Recruiting Game™’ visit http://www.ncrasportsnetwork.com.