Scholarships and aid are wonderful, but it’s what you actually pay that really matters! Every college has a sticker price that they advertise as the yearly tuition. But very few students pay the sticker price. Colleges don’t expect them to.
Colleges throw out a big number to scare you. Then they award all kinds of grants, aid, and scholarship that lowers a student’s out-of-pocket expenses. They want you to get excited about how much money you’ll be saving.
When your athlete receives an offer don’t get caught up in how large the athletic scholarship is. Don’t get caught up in the details of the financial aid package. Keep your eye on the big picture. Ask yourself, how much will we pay each year for my teen to compete at this school?
Every college or university advertises a tuition “sticker price.” It’s also called the Cost of Attendance. Or the Billed (or Direct) Costs. This total number is the advertised cost of tuition and room and board. You can find the advertised sticker price on every school’s website.
Here’s the most important thing to know: almost nobody pays the sticker price. Schools advertise a scary price so you’ll be excited about the discounted rate you receive.
On the other hand, colleges need to have the average student pay a certain minimum amount of money to the institution. This is called a “discount rate.” It is the average amount each student is paying for their education. Every school is beholden to these dollars to survive.
Everybody likes to receive a scholarship. It’s fun. That’s exactly what the schools want. They want you excited about the scholarships.
But don’t focus on how much money you’re saving off the sticker price. Focus on the bottom line. The discount rate is the number in the bottom right corner that says how much you actually owe.
The Bottom Line
This is the only thing that matters. The final out-of-pocket expense for your child’s education is the bottom line.
After a university accepts your teen, the financial aid office will prepare an Award Letter. The Award Letter is a detailed summary of every scholarship, grant, and loan your student will be offered. The total amount of assistance will be at the bottom. Sometimes the college will tell you the net price you will pay out-of-pocket. Other times you’ll have to break out your calculator and subtract the total aid from the total cost of attendance. That’s the amount of money you pay the college each year.
My son just received an award letter from a private school. The clear emphasis was how much we were going to save off the $40,000 sticker price. Down in the bottom right corner was the amount we would owe. Even after years of telling others to focus on the bottom line, I still talked excitedly with my son about how much we “saved.” Later we talked about the incredibly large number we would still owe each year.
Check a university’s website for the “Net Price Calculator.” This is a tool that allows you to enter your financial information and it provides you with an estimated cost of attendance. Try this and compare the listed tuition price with what they estimate you’ll pay out-of-pocket.
Don’t focus on the dollar amount of scholarships. Focus on what you’ll actually pay.
Division 3 schools do not offer athletic scholarships. Many athletes will not even consider a Division 3 school because they think the lack of athletic scholarships makes the school unaffordable.
Here’s the secret: every school has a set amount of money to hand out in scholarships to reach their discount rate. As a consumer (that’s what you are) ignore the scholarship’s name. Look at the dollar amount. Division 3 schools often offer higher academic awards because they cannot offer athletic aid.
It does not mean there are no good deals for student-athletes, they are just receiving the money under different terms. The admissions office treats athletes like every other student applying for admission. You may not end up with a “baseball” scholarship, but the total amount of scholarship money offered could be higher than an athletic scholarship from a Division 1 or 2 university.
The name of the scholarship doesn’t matter. The bottom line is the number that matters.
Compare the cost of several schools
Do your homework. Don’t say yes to the first scholarship offer your athlete receives without understanding what the net price of attendance will be.
Work through the financial aid process at several schools and look for the amount you will pay to attend each school. What you actually have to pay out of pocket and in loans is what really matters!
Don’t let these realities discourage you. Division 1, 2, 3, and NAIA schools all offer good financial packages. Spend time finding the right school with the right total financial package. Find the best value, at a school your athelte likes. Focus less on the “athletic” scholarship and more on the total package.
How to Get Recruited: Get the knowledge you need to help your teen become a college athlete. This step-by-step plan saves you money and gives you the confidence you’re doing recruiting right.
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