Financial Aid 411

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Congratulations! You've been accepted by your number one school. But before you attend your first college practice or class, getting your finances in order is crucial.

A cap, a gown and a $19,000 hole in your pocket. Even with financial help along the way, that's the average debt of students graduating from college. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, nearly two-thirds of undergrads can't make it through their four years without assistance. This means it's your duty to do whatever you can to make sure you're studying and competing without overbearing financial worries.

If you're a Division I or II student-athlete, you can pursue an athletic scholarship and other types of financial aid. D-III schools can't offer athletic scholarships, but they can offer other forms of assistance.

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Congratulations! You've been accepted by your number one school. But before you attend your first college practice or class, getting your finances in order is crucial.

A cap, a gown and a $19,000 hole in your pocket. Even with financial help along the way, that's the average debt of students graduating from college. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, nearly two-thirds of undergrads can't make it through their four years without assistance. This means it's your duty to do whatever you can to make sure you're studying and competing without overbearing financial worries.

If you're a Division I or II student-athlete, you can pursue an athletic scholarship and other types of financial aid. D-III schools can't offer athletic scholarships, but they can offer other forms of assistance.

What you'll discover, however, is that grants, scholarships, work-study and other forms of aid typically don't cover the full cost of a college education. Many students find that they must supplement with private and government loans. Government loans typically offer lower interest rates and more flexible repayment plans than consumer loans, making them an attractive way to finance your education.

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The two biggies—scholarships and grants—are similar in that, essentially, they are free money and do not require repayment. For that reason, you should seek them first, before considering loans. Note, however, that most scholarships and grants must be renewed annually.

Merit scholarships
Distributed on the basis of specific criteria established by the scholarship's donors and administrators. Common criteria include financial need, academic excellence, community service and athletic ability.

Athletic scholarships
Most Division I and II schools [with the notable exception of the Ivy League], and some NAIA and NJCAA institutions, offer athletic scholarships in baseball, basketball, cross country, crew, golf, hockey [ice and field], lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, track, volleyball and wrestling. Few colleges offer athletic scholarships in other sports. Your scholarship can be cancelled if you:

• become ineligible
• voluntarily withdraw from your team
• falsify information on a financial aid agreement
• engage in misconduct that results in disciplinary action by the school

Grants
Disbursed on the basis of a student's financial need, or to support a specific project [e.g., research]. The grant application process begins with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Work-study programs
Administered by colleges and universities, work-study provides student-athletes with a certain number of paid work hours throughout the academic year in return for at least federal minimum wage. In addition to providing much needed funds, work-study programs can offer valuable work experience.

Loans
Money borrowed from a bank or other institution that must be repaid with interest. Read that again: with interest.

Pell Grants
Awarded by the U.S. Department of Education on the basis of a student's financial need and how much the Department thinks his/her parents can provide. The maximum amount currently available per year is $4,050.

Perkins Loans
Federally backed, low-interest loans available to undergrads with demonstrated financial need. Keep in mind that many schools distribute Perkins funds on a first-come, first-serve basis, which means your school may not have enough funding to cover all eligible students. Don't forget: Apply for your Perkins early in the year.

Alternatives
Depending on your financial situation, you can look into military enlistment, employer support and various tax credits.

Related links:
Financial Aid Options
2009 Key Recruiting Checklist
2009 Recruiting Terminology
Bob Sanders' Recruiting Experience
Divisional Breakdown 
NCAA Initial Eligibility Center
Self Marketing Tips
Communicating With a Coach
Gauging A Coach's Interest
Official College Visits
Researching Colleges

Key NCAA Rules & Regs


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