Athletic Scholarship breakdown: How Percentage versus dollar amount makes a big difference

Athletic Scholarship breakdown - Percentage versus dollar amountOne of the most interesting things about football scholarship is that outside of the Division I-A (BCS) level, college coaches can offer any percentage of a scholarship to athletes.  Hypothetically you could brag about your scholarship offer and the school really is only offering you $500 or it could be 10% of your tuition.

But before making a final decision, you need to realize what exactly the scholarship that you have received is worth overall.  And if it is a set amount, that may be something that could hurt you down the road.  Keep these things in mind before signing your National Letter of Intent.

A quick note before jumping into the article.  Scholarships are one year agreements that the coaches have the decision to renew over your four of five years at the school.  In most cases, if you do well academically, stay out of trouble, and work hard in your chosen sport, then the coaches will continue to renew it during your career.  But again, it is important for athletes and their families to realize that.

So going back to the dollar versus percentage argument, I must stress that you really, really, really, really, really (I did mean to repeat it that many times) want your scholarship agreement to be percentage based.

Why does it really matter?  If the school you are attending hypothetically costs an even $20,000 in year one, there is a big difference between getting a scholarship for 50% or $10,000.  In year one, the numbers will balance out even in this equation if it was 50% or $10,000.  But the problems arise down the road in years two, three, four, and possibly five if you redshirted.

If the price of tuition is raised each year 5% because the school is at a deficit, than means the price tag for the school over the next four years will be $21,000, $22,050, $23,152.50, and $24,310.13.  Yes, that 5% is high but the sake of the article, I believe it is important to make sure high schoolers understand the difference in a big way.

As an athlete with a 50% athletic scholarship and no academic scholarships, your total costs over five years of schooling would end up being $10,000, $10,500, $11,025, $11,576.25, and $12,155.07.  In the end, you will need to take out loans for $55,256.315 to pay off the tuition (unless of course you are very lucky and your parents and paying for the rest of your schooling).

The numbers are much higher if you stay with your $10,000 scholarship for five years.  Costs over five years would be $10,000, $11,000, $12,050, $13,152.50, $14,310.13.  Your total costs for a college education would be $60,512.63.

It may not seem like all that much right now but paying back $5,256.31 in student loans will really add up.  Throw in interest and the time it takes to pay off and this will only be sapping your monthly salary after you graduate.  And if your parents are paying for it, that is a lot of money as well.

Some schools will obviously try to walk you down the path of a dollar amount but make sure to do what you can to get a percentage agreement on your scholarship paperwork.  This is the best way to help yourself for years to come.

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