Every fall, parents sign up their children for football, wrestling, and other sports. After school, they take their kids to practices and workouts. They spend every weekend at competitions and games.
Many young athletes hope that all the hard work and sacrifice will result in sports scholarships for school. But for the majority, college athletic scholarships are not a reality.
If you’re a high school athlete, the chances of getting a scholarship to play sports are slim. To pay for college, you may need to find the money elsewhere.
The limited number of sports scholarships available
Thousands of hopefuls and their families campaign throughout the season to get the attention of college recruiters and coaches — but only a very small number will get any form of scholarship at all.
According to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), only 2 percent of incoming college athletes will receive a sports scholarship.
Universities nationwide give out approximately $2.7 billion in college athletic scholarships each year. While that number may sound significant, the universities spread athletic scholarships across thousands of students. Most sports scholarships are only partial awards that cover a small portion of college costs.
Full scholarships are typically offered only by Division I schools. Division II schools offer partial athletic scholarships and Division III schools do not offer any form of athletic incentives.
Athletes can still qualify for other kinds of scholarships and aid based on academic merit and need, but sports alone will likely not cover the cost of attending school.
Moreover, if a high school athlete is a swimmer, track star, or lacrosse player, college athletic scholarships are even harder to find.
Full scholarships are nearly impossible to get, and partial scholarships are intensely competitive. Universities most often award full sports scholarships to men who play football or basketball and women who play volleyball or tennis.
The gap between athletic scholarships and the cost of attendance
Many families think that athletic scholarships will completely cover the cost of attending college. Unfortunately, that is usually untrue.
The average value of a Division I scholarship is approximately $14,300, which is much less than the cost of tuition, fees, room, and board. The average cost of attendance for a public school is over $24,000, and costs exceed $47,000 for a private school.
That means there is a significant gap between the sports scholarship and what the student will owe. To fill the gap, the student typically needs to take out student loans.
The burden of college athletics
For those elite athletes who compete at the college level, the pressure can be enormous.
Colleges award scholarships on a semester-by-semester basis and base them on both academic and athletic performance. If you slip up or your performance goes down, you could lose your scholarship.
With all of their obligations, there’s little opportunity for socializing or extracurricular clubs. Many NCAA athletes say they regret how much time they spent in practice and wished they had more time for socializing.
While many students can offset the cost of college by working part-time, college athletes often cannot work due to their rigorous schedules. Being a college athlete is a full-time job. College football players spend 43 hours a week in practices or games, which means their other priorities are neglected.
Between practices, competitions, classes, and homework, there is little time left for a side job. For many, student loans are the only way to pay for the rest of their education.
College athletes often dream of playing professionally after college, but the chances of that happening are even slimmer than getting an athletic scholarship. Of the 480,000 NCAA participants, only a tiny subgroup ever makes it to the professional level.
For example, over 16,000 NCAA football players are eligible for the draft, but teams choose just 256. That means just 1.9 percent go on to the professional level. For this reason, focusing on academics and choosing a major wisely are essential to maximize career opportunities after graduation.
Keep in mind
If you enjoy sports, competing in high school is fulfilling and beneficial. But it’s important to be realistic about your future opportunities and focus on academics.
You are far more likely to get an academic scholarship than a sports scholarship, so by working hard to keep your grades up, you can lower your dependence on student loans.
For most athletes, college awards are out of reach. Research alternatives, take on student loan debt thoughtfully, and keep future goals in mind to get the most out of college.
If you need help understanding how student loans work and how to make the best decisions about borrowing, check out our guides to get started.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
|1 Important Disclosures for CollegeAve.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
2 Important Disclosures for Discover.
3 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for PNC.
PNC Bank is one of the nation’s largest education loan providers. For over 40 years, PNC has been committed to helping students and their families make possible the adventure of college.
6 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
8 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
9 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.94% – 12.78%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.06% – 13.06%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.34% – 12.99%2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 11.10%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.03% – 11.23%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.12% – 13.13%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.62% – 10.01%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.93% – 9.81%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.26% – 12.13%9||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|