Cost of College Financial Aid

What Is the Cost of College for Athletes?

(Flickr - David Wall)

(Flickr – David Wall)

College is expensive. I know I’m not the first to tell you this. It’s a fact many parents start thinking about when their son or daughter is just a twinkle in their eye.

It can also be a fact many parents choose to ignore, instead focusing on hopes resting on decreasing the cost of college for athletes. But the long and short of it is that you can’t ignore the cost of college for athletes, or for any student, or you risk impacting your life for years to come.

So where to begin?

Here are some facts about the cost of college for athletes

Let’s start with some 2014-2015 averages. The average cost of public, in-state tuition is just over $9,000/year. The average cost of public, out-of-state-tuition is just under $23,000/year. The average cost of private college is just over $31,000.

Averages help explore a worst-case scenario for student-athletes and parents: if there was no scholarship or aid, could we afford the school, (or will it be affordable to pay back loans for X amount of years to come)?

While so much more goes into the cost of college, and the opportunities for scholarship and aid at a particular school, cost averages are a nice way to get a very general sense of the baseline, and are also a very easy and non-threatening way to open up the discussion as a family. Where to go from here when beginning to evaluate what colleges are realistically affordable for you with or without scholarship?

Let’s start with beginning to think about some basics. The below questions are engineered to help you narrow down the type of college that will get you a degree in the field of study that interests you, an incredible experience as a student-athlete, and that comes with a manageable price tag.

What is important to you in a school?

Size of school, location, majors/degrees offered, class sizes? Take some time with this one, because it will really help shape and narrow down your search.

What types of scholarship and aid does the school offer to cover the cost of college for athletes?

This can usually be found on the college website. But if that proves to be tricky, college financial aid office contacts are listed on every school website and are often very easy to speak with or to set up an appointment with.

For athletic scholarship and aid opportunities, the coach and his or her staff will be your best resource, which is a discussion commonly associated with your recruitment.

How much money are your parents able to contribute across four years (if any)?

This isn’t always an easy conversation to have, but an important one. You’re going to have to complete a FAFSA to determine what the expected family contribution will be.

How much debt is the student-athlete willing to graduate with?

There are many loan calculators and other resources out there that will help you figure out just how long it will take you to pay off a loan at a certain interest rate.

Take some time to speak with your parents and other college graduates who have experience taking out, and now paying off, a loan. Factor in possibilities for your career ahead and what your salary may look like, and start to decide just how much debt you are wiling to take on in order to attend a certain school.


Recruiting opportunities are another way to affect the cost of college for athletes. Our scouts are here to answer more questions you have about your recruiting opportunities. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.