June 23, 2010
Athletic Scholarships and the Big Picture
Lynn O’Shaughnessy writes a blog for U.S. News and World Report that’s definitely worth reading, called “The College Solution.” If you have a few spare minutes over the summer, give it a read! One of her articles, published June 22nd, brings up some caveats to the much-vaunted athletic scholarship. Read her complete post for a cautionary tale.
Pretty much everyone wants to succeed in some way, and to many people, that means going to college. But if you’re counting on any single source for financialng all your eggs in a very unstable basket. Most financial aid packages consist of funds from a variety of sources to help students pay for college.
Basically, there are five main ways to pay for college: savings, scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and student loans. Some of these options obviously require more forethought and planning than others; starting a savings plan six months before school starts isn’t going to make as much of a difference as opening a 529 savings plan for a child while he or she is in elementary school.
Scholarships, including the athletic variety, are just one piece of the puzzle. The best time to get really serious about your scholarship search is the summer before senior year of high school (unless you’ve been working towards a particular scholarship with longer-term requirements already). Millions of dollars of scholarship money goes to waste every year because students don’t apply. The scholarship search on UtahFutures is free and a good place to start looking. Sure, the up-front work seems tedious (and it kind of is), but if you apply for ten $1,000 scholarships and you net half of them, that’s about a year’s worth of tuition at a state university in Utah. Figure that each application takes three hours, and that’s a $166 per hour effort. Not too shabby!
Grants differ from scholarships because they’re usually awarded on the basis of financial need. There’s some variation within private or state grants, but count on filing the FAFSA if you want to be eligible for any kind of grant funds (which, like scholarships, don’t have to be repaid). There might be extra application paperwork to submit for particular grants, so make sure you do the legwork before the deadline.
Work-study programs are designed to help students contribute money to their own educations during school. When I was in college, I worked at the cafe in the library on campus and eventually at the Writing Center, helping other students improve their writing skills. These jobs are also awarded as part of financial aid packages, with priority usually going to students who demonstrate financial need. Again, plan to fill out the FAFSA. (Seeing a trend here?)
Student loans come in two main varieties: federal and private. UHEAA’s website has a lot of excellent information about the different stripes of loans within the two main categories, so I’m not going to repeat it all right here.
So, the bottom line is to remember just that. A bottom line – for a business, a family, or a student’s tuition bill – is rarely met with income from a single source. Planning on financing a college education with a single athletic scholarship, or a single academic scholarship, or a single anything, is a bit of a gamble to say the least.Posted by: Sumiko