What Type of Costs Athletic Scholarships Cover - Friday's Scholarship Guide

by Dominic Tinodi

This edition of Friday's Scholarship Guide will be all about what an athletic scholarship consists of. In other words, if you were to receive a full-ride scholarship, will this scholarship cover everything or are there other costs left to pay for you and your family?

Photo credit: TaxCredits

Ever wondered what tuition fees, room & board, and course-material actually stand for? Now's the time to find out, as it will become relevant once you start talking to coaches and getting closer to land a good athletic scholarship. Knowing about the different costs puts you in a much better position when you receive first indications what coaches offer to you.

1. Different costs related to studying

Studying at a college in the USA has a price tag. And that price tag can differ quite significantly depending on the school (private college vs. public college), location (cities vs. more rural as well as in-state vs. out-of-state), and other factors. However, what unites all American universities is the fact that students will have to pay for tuition fees, room & board, and course-related material. Unless you are one lucky student or athlete in your case, who is that skilled on the soccer pitch or the skiing slopes, that college teams will offer to pay parts of the total costs to get you on their team roster. There are clear regulations by the NCAA, NAIA, and the NJCAA what costs may be covered by scholarships. Let's look at them step by step.

Tuition fees - covered

You will come across the term tuition fees many, many times and it means nothing else than studying fees. You will realize that schools can either be very, very expensive, modest, or cheap. How expensive a school is depends on a variety of different things, but as a rule of thumb public colleges charge their students less money and outstanding quality, such as the Ivy League, simply costs more. The average tuition fee in the academic year 2011/2012 was USD 13,608 (4-year undergraduate schools). Public schools' tuition was an average of USD 7,701 and private schools' tuition an average of USD 23,479. As a comparison, tuition fees at Stanford University amount to USD 44,346 annually. Quite a difference, right? Tuition fees are the great share of university costs for you and they can definitely be covered by an athletic scholarship.

Room and board - covered

In addition to tuition fees you would typically also have to pay for room & board. Typically, because your family could either live very close by and it's not necessary to move to college or you could live off-campus. On-campus students are the thousands of young students who basically live at college and who create this fantastic atmospheric "college life". Off-campus students live by themselves or with friends and colleagues, typically very close to the premises. Room and board as the name says covers two things: You get a dormitory room and you get food. Prices across schools do differ, but not to the same extent as tuition fees. Awesome news that room and board may also be covered by athletic scholarships, right?

Course-related material - covered

Finally, there's a lot of material that needs to be bought for your courses at college. Unfortunately all those course books are everything but cheap and easily amount to hundreds of dollars. Good thing that sports-governing bodies, like the NCAA permit that those costs are covered by financial aid as well. In addition to actual books and supplies, course-related fees are also covered by financial aid.

Transportation costs - not covered

Finally all students will have some sort of transportation means taking them to their chosen college at the beginning of the academic term and at the end of it. So at least two round-trips a year and given the size of the U.S. the distance can easily be a multi-hour flight. Not to forget all the Internationals flying in from all over the globe. Transportation costs are however not covered by your financial aid package and you will have to cover them by yourselves.

2. Amount of athletic scholarship

When you start talking to coaches you will quickly realize that they use the terms above when talking to you. Some will mention to you what costs they cover (e.g. tuition fees only), whereas others will tell you pretty much the value of the scholarship based on a full-ride (100%). In both cases that can be highly misleading and confusing, as there is such a great range of total costs in the U.S.

A 80% scholarship at a very expensive college sounds fantastic at first sight, but when you do the math you might realize that a 65% offer at a cheaper college might even end up being more advantageous. Financially. Whether it's worth it from the perspective of education, sports, and location is another question, but maybe an even more important one, which you can read about in one of our previous blog articles.


To sum up, step 1 for you should be to get an idea of the total annual cost of studying at the particular college of your interest. Step 2 is to do the math and check how much you, probably your parents, can afford to pay annually. Say your family is willing to pay USD 10,000 a year and if tuition fees, room & board & course material cost USD 40,000 a year, you will need to find out whether you have a realistic shot at receiving a 75% scholarship. If you talk to coaches of cheaper colleges, you would have a bit more flexibility to negotiate, as you might be OK with a lower scholarship as well.

Next week, we'll be taking a closer look at how much total scholarship tennis coaches are in fact allowed to grant to their recruits. Turns out there are quite some differences between conferences and gender. So check back next Friday for a new edition of Friday's Scholarship Guide as well!

As always, feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions or you need more information! We're happy to help!

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