I wanted to share an email that I got awhile ago from a dad whose son is a senior. I overlooked this email until now so any advice might be too late for this family, but others might benefit.
Here is the dad’s questions:
My oldest son is graduating high school this June/ 2013. One college is looking at him to play soccer- Goucher College in Md. but it is expensive. Your blog posts on the FAFSA were very helpful. Here is my question: How should I approach the college about an athletic scholarship?
The Scoop on Athletic Scholarships
There is no need to approach Goucher College or any other Division III about athletic scholarships. Division III schools, which are primarily private colleges and universities, do not give out athletic scholarships. That, however, should not be a deal breaker.
These schools routinely offer merit scholarships to their students and/or need-based financial aid. Being an athlete can make a student more attractive to a Division III school. These schools care deeply about their teams and are eager to attract good players.
What many parents don’t understand is that in the vast majority of cases, merit scholarships are bigger than athletic scholarships. If your child earns a merit scholarship he enjoys a financial advantage because whether or not he plays soccer, basketball, lacrosse or any other sport, he will still keep his merit scholarship (some schools have a requirement that a scholarship recipient must maintain a certain GPA such as a 3.0).
In contrast, if your son gets an athletic scholarship from a Division I or II school, he could lose it if the coach no longer finds him valuable to the team. There are no four-year sports scholarships.
The average merit scholarship (non-need based aid) at Goucher College is $13,867, which is bigger than the average NCCA athletic scholarship of $11,000. (You can check these merit aid statistics yourself by looking at an institution’s profile on the College Board.)
What families also don’t realize is how difficult it is to secure an athletic scholarship. Roughly 2% of high school athletes capture an athletic scholarship.
And what about the odds for a soccer scholarhips? It’s grim. According to the most recent figures that I can find, about 330,000 boys compete in high school soccer, but there were just 2,357 soccer scholarships available. These scholarships were split among 6,047 students. The average award was just $8,533.
Families often end up shopping for athletic scholarships rather than for schools that represent a good academic fit. If you are a gifted athlete or the parent of one, I’d recommend that you first identify schools that would be a match academically and then inquire about the sports. Getting a college education is infinitely more important than playing a sports. And remember, the money you receive for academic accomplishments is usually more than a sports scholarship.