Of all of the stresses that high school athletes face, one mounting concern rises above the others: college.
Most specifically, a survey recently found out, high school students worry about paying for college.
The most shocking part? Only 12 percent of students who responded to the survey had filled out a FAFSA, even though it’s such an important document for schools’ financial aid departments to consider your application for financial aid in the forms of grants, loans and work-study.
Take control of the financial aid process.
I know that thinking about the amount of money that goes into a higher education is daunting. And I know that there are a lot of confusing pieces that go into successfully applying for scholarships and financial aid. That’s why we have so many resources to help student-athletes and their family understand the financial aid process. Here are some good places to start:
- Find out the basics for college financial aid here.
- Here’s how to make sure You’re filling out the FAFSA correctly.
- Use this tool to search for scholarships in your sport, by state.
Think outside the box for your financial aid process.
Let me put on my armchair psychologist hat. Looking at the survey, I would say the majority of high school athletes are worried about the financial aid process because they think it involves two components: the amount of money tuition will cost, and the amount they’ll have to put out of their pocket.
But both of these are variables, not constants.
No, don’t groan because I just made a math reference. Follow me for a second, here:
The cost for college differs from school to school.
Especially for student-athletes who are serious about playing in college, the wider you cast your net — which likely means looking at schools you haven’t heard of before — the better your chances of finding the right fit socially, academically and athletically. Among these you may very well find a state school that impresses you, or a school in a conference or division you hadn’t anticipated playing in, that offers you significantly more in aid. You’ll never know until you look for your matches.
In addition to completing the FAFSA, you can look for other sources of scholarship and aid
The FAFSA qualifies you for federally-funded student loans, grants and merit-based aid your institution may offer.
Some sources of scholarship and aid outside of federal loans, private lenders or the institution itself might surprise you. Like a local charitable organization offering a scholarship competition. Or an essay you wrote in English last year that fits perfectly into the writing prompt for a scholarship granted to students who are passionate about the way jungles in Heart of Darkness are described. (Who knows — maybe that exists?!)
Ask for help in your financial aid process.
Don’t forget about the support network in your family, school, community and beyond. This might be your first time going through the college financial aid process, but it isn’t everyone’s. Family members, guidance counselors, older friends’ families will all have perspectives on the best way to go about maximizing your aid.
And, of course, scouts and the digital resources at NCSA Athletic Recruiting are always here for you, too. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.