One of the very early questions coaches will ask you is the following: "What's your budget?" Surprised? We understand many athletes are, but in fact you shouldn't be. Let's have a look at why coaches ask this question all the time and how you should best go about it in today's edition of the Friday Scholarship Guide.
All coaches have limited amounts of athletic scholarships at their disposal. Due to NCAA and NAIA regulations, there is a maximum amount of scholarship money that schools (hence, coaches) can decide to give away to their players. There is a difference depending on the specific division, with female athletes potentially receiving full-rides in D1 and D2 schools, whereas D3 teams don't hand out athletic scholarships at all. For a complete overview of this extremely important topic, have a look at one of our older blogs here: "Number of Scholarships in College Tennis"
What that means for a large majority of you (unless you are a very strong female contender to play D1/D2) is that coaches will ask about your annual budget once you have established contact.
Total cost of attendance (tuition, room & board, material, fees)
MINUS potential scholarship offer by the coach
MINUS other financial aid offered
EQUALS annual cost for student athlete (= annual budget)
Because coaches only have so much money to give away, they want to know pretty early on whether it makes sense for them and for you to engage in a more concrete dialogue. They don't want to waste their time and neither do they want to waste your time. With both athlete and coach better off, let's just get this "annoying" question out of the way.
But what does that leave you with in terms of tasks before speaking with coaches? Let's go through it step by step:
Unless you are a very strong female tennis player, you will most likely need the financial commitment from your legal guardians/parents to pay for the remaining costs of a college degree. But even if you are in the fortunate position of gaining a full-ride scholarship, there will be costs related to your studies and your family will therefore be involved to some extent.
As a consequence, sit down with your parents and discuss how you can finance any potential costs that will arise from you studying at college.
Will you be able to afford 5,000 USD a year, 15,000 USD or say, 40,000 USD?
Also, what would be the conditions for making use of that kind of money? Does it need to be any kind of college with a specific academic profile, reputation or affiliation?
At the end of that process, you should ideally be left with a fixed amount or a range of money that you can mention in your talks with coaches - your annual budget.
The second step is to make sure to contact the right coaches. Right coaches in terms of what ... ?
Right coaches when it comes to your level of play.
Depending on the schools you have identified as being interesting, you will then be able to start the dialogue with coaches and be somewhat flexible with the fixed annual budget you have. Keep in mind that the annual budget you have come up with is the maximum amount you want to be paying. So, gear up your negotiation skills and speak to the coaches! :)
Many schools give away scholarships based on academic achievements of the applicants. If you are a great student, you could qualify to receive academic scholarship money provided you fulfill their academic requirements and the school allows stacking athletic and academic scholarships.
In order to potentially qualify for such an award, you should to look at colleges with academic criteria that are within reach for you. Let's have an example: Say, you scored 1,050 on the SAT and you are interested in a school with academic requirements to receive a scholarship of 1,250 on the SAT. That might not really be the best school to aim at if you think you will need academic scholarship money to be able to afford college.
Identify the right schools when it comes to your chances of potentially qualifying for an academic scholarship. Have a look at this article to get a better understanding of how it all works: Academic Focus Areas for Tennis Recruits to Boost Their Chances.
The final puzzle piece is to find out the cost of attendance at interesting schools.
The difference between how expensive schools can be is enormous. Annual costs of more than 70,000 USD are quite something compared to schools that cost a fraction of that. You want to list the schools that match with your budget, your level of play and your chances of potentially qualifying for other financial aid.
The above 4 steps will enable you to not only narrow down the list of potential colleges to speak with, it will also allow you to do your homework prior to speaking to coaches and be well-prepared for the process. Believe us, "What's you budget?" will come sooner or later when speaking with tennis programs.
Let us know in case you have questions with regards to any of the above! We're happy to support you if you drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don't forget to get yourself in the best position for your upcoming talks with tennis college coaches by signing up with a free recruiting profile on Smarthlete. The coaches are waiting to have a look at you ... :)
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