I’ve gotten questions lately from parents whose children are being recruited by college coaches.
I wanted to share the questions because it might help other families who are or will be navigating the Byzantine world of college athletics.
I talked to Karen Weaver, my go-to-expert on college athletics. Weaver is the director of athletics at a Penn State campus and a television sports commentator, who has coached field hockey at four schools, including Williams College, Purdue University and Ohio State University. Her days as a coach also included one field hockey national championship.
Question No. 1
The first question came from a dad whose daughter is being recruited by a coach at a university back east.
The coach has promised the girl a $12,000 sports scholarship for her freshman year and she told the family that she should be able to expect that amount for all four years. She couldn’t make any promises, but she said the girl might receive a little more money in her later years.
I haven’t gotten to the dad’s question yet, but what parents need to know is that coaches can’t guarantee a four-year commitment. NCAA rules dictate one-year contracts. A lot can happen over the years. An injury, illness, jock burnout, academic problems and coaching changes can all jeopardize a future award.
The father of this athlete wonders if his daughter should apply for financial aid. He is leaning against applying for financial aid because he worries that doing so might keep his daughter from getting a larger athletic scholarship in the future.
Apply for Financial Aid
The daughter should definitely apply for financial aid. Whether she gets additional money for her athletic prowess in future years has absolutely nothing to do with whether she qualifies for need-based aid.
Depending on the family’s income, there is certainly the chance of getting need-based aid from the school. The dad said the family’s income will range between $80,000 and $120,000. It would be foolhardy not to apply for need-based aid at a school that costs more than $50,000 a year.
Question No. 2.
The second parent asked me if her daughter, who is being recruited, should apply to a college early decision. (I couldn’t find the email and I can’t remember the name of the school.) The mom said that her daughter’s prospective coach at the private Division III college is urging her to apply early decision because her chances of getting accepted would be better.
Applying early decision can often boost your admission chances, but unless you know that you can afford the college, if accepted, you should not apply early decision. A student, who is accepted through the early decision process, is expected to attend that institution in the fall.
So what should the student do? Skip early decision. The coach obviously wants to form his team as soon as possible so it’s understandable why he is leaning on the girl to send in an early application. The athlete, however, should wait and apply regular decision.