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Betting on a sports scholarship to pay for kids' college? Don't


Replies to: Betting on a sports scholarship to pay for kids' college? Don't

  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 Forum Champion Athletic Recruits Posts: 2,477 Forum Champion
    A lot of this is going to vary by school, conference and the type of aid. For both my kids, one a non scholarship athlete at Princeton, the other decidedly not an athlete at Vassar, outside scholarships were used to first reduce the student expected contribution, then loans if applicable, then any grant. My alma mater, a D1 scholarship school, counts all aid provided to a rostered player in my old sport as athletic aid by conference rule. While that is a pretty extreme example, the rules seem to vary a bit. But as @twoinanddone says, it doesn’t really matter how the aid is “tagged”, what is important is building towards a number you can stomach.
  • ASKMotherASKMother Registered User Posts: 186 Junior Member
    @leennp what year is your swimmer son? My S23 has mentioned maybe possibly wanting to swim in college so I'm poking around on these threads and checking out collegeswimming.com for stats just to see if he even has a prayer. What I'm finding is there isn't much money for set aside for men swimmers (unless you are breaking national records! he is not!), but there can be scholarship if the academics are also high... like using swimming as a hook to get into academically selective schools. I would love to know your viewpoint/experience since you have done this, albeit with a Daughter.
  • leennpleennp Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    edited May 23
    My son just finished sophomore year, so rising Junior. And yes you may be able to use swimming as a hook for selective schools, but only if you are in the range where your times would be able to score points at conference championships and likely in more that one event, so top 16 in conference. College swimmers only swim 3 events at conference, and some schools have a travel/conference team as a subset fo the the roster of all swimmers on team. For conferences that limit number of athletes at conference, this is common, or also common to have a smaller roster of swimmers at schools with conference limits, with no "recruited walk-on's. Athletes are eligible to receive merit scholarships that all students are evaluated for, however many "top" schools only have need based aid and not merit, and the Ivy league has no athletic or merit scholarships for anyone. The NCAA has some general rule on athlete receiving merit, they must meet a minimum threshold for Act or combined scores in order to receive merit. College swimming dot com has a very useful tool if you have the paid membership, which is only like 60 or something one time fee, you can look and any school and evaluate where you "fit" in the school and conference. My daughter was only fast enough really to look at mid major D1, or D2, Dc3 schools. You may think in looking at that but wait, my kid is in high school, not in college, the college kids should be faster, but coaches know that as well, they are still looking to see if you are at least close to scoring, knowing that the huge time drops younger swimmers see don't really happen anymore as you approach college age, especially for girls, many of whom peek at end of high school and never get faster in college. Boys tend to still have improvements college due to putting on muscle, but nothing like they saw in the 12-16 year old range. So you can't look at you high school sophomore time of say a 200 free time that is 15 seconds slower than the kids in a C final at conference and think no problem, will be at that time in 2 years. That is not reality. You need to have a somewhat close time by end of short course season junior year or maybe fall of senior year if high school swimming is a fall sport in your state. You can feel free to message me more if you like, I may have more experience with girls and college swimming, but have friends with boys who are college swimmers who went through the process the same time as my daughter and we are in the process already for my son.
  • mamommamom Registered User Posts: 3,664 Senior Member
    I'll chime in and say my D3 kid got no FA (which was expected) but also no merit (which was expected). Because she was a recruited athlete I think the school knew she would go if accepted ED1 and there was no need on their part to sweeten the pot. My D ended up at a very rigorous D3 LAC with no aid as a recruited athlete. We chased merit with my S and he got a full tuition scholarship. I think D3 athletes can end up with less at the top academic schools.At least based on my experience.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,856 Senior Member
    A lot of athletes use the hook to get into the schools they want to, not for the money. That's the case with the Ivies as the money is the same for anyone admitted to the schools (need based aid) but the hard part is getting in.
  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids Registered User Posts: 639 Member
    edited May 24
    I have told people for years that even though I didn't expect it if my son was truly blessed he would be able to get a big enough scholarship for me to break even (olympic and definitely non-revenue sport). I didn't look at the chart posted above but last time I checked just under 2% in his sport find a spot on a college roster. Title IX has been brutal to men's sports outside of football.

    As it turned out, I was the rare parent who sells their kid short rather than being overly optimistic, although I don't think anyone could have realistically expected him to jump that many levels after his soph HS year. He had a couple of scholarship offers in the 70% range from top 10 D1 teams, which is about as good as it gets in his sport. Plus an offer of 100% from a D2, which the coach said he has never offered before (but he's also S's club coach so he knows what he would be getting). He ended up at an Ivy, one that would put his application in the auto-reject pile if he didn't have a slot from the coach. It's the school that he and I both would have said was the ultimate goal years ago, and then laughed that we even said something so stupid and unrealistic out loud. Sometimes it all works out. But I feel like me giving advice to others about his situation is like a lottery winner giving out advice about how to pick numbers. Obviously he had tremendous talent and worked very hard. But I think it is completely unrealistic to expect his results even for a talented hard working athlete. He has a classmate headed to that same D2 on probably a 50% scholarship who is probably about equally talented. But the classmate got injured at the wrong time and didn't place at the right tournaments at the right time. There is definitely some luck involved. If S had torn his ACL junior year and his classmate hadn't, their roles could well be reversed.

    D21 is probably more typical. Very talented but not outstanding travel soccer player. Probably talented enough for a small token scholarship at our local D2, which isn't very good at womens soccer. A player on her team a year older but I would say equally talented told me she has an offer from an in-state juco. Zero chance I would ever recoup 1/2 of what I have paid for soccer, and I live in a cheap cost of living area with in my opinion a really cheap team with a former college coach who can actually coach and who also is very good at assisting with the recruiting process. But just the travel alone is a huge expense. She decided to skip travel this fall because it interferes too much with HS golf, plus she will have a brutal fall academic schedule and will be studying for the ACT. Just in gas and hotels that saved me more than $2,000, probably much more.

    But I still think I have gotten my money's worth out of soccer for her. She has learned a ton. Not necessarily about soccer, although that too. But about teamwork, about sacrifice, about hard work, and about how life isn't always fair. Plus about 100 more things I can list.

    She is probably too smart to head to a school that would recruit her I think. And probably not talented enough to get recruited for a NESCAC or similar school.

    Since she was playing U9, there have been parents on her team focused on the athletic scholarship. To be honest, it's been pretty annoying. Trust me, there are no scouts at a U10 game where no team traveled further than an hour to get there. But you wouldn't know it to listen to our parents. I have seen several girls drop out for various reasons whose parents were confident that a scholarship was forthcoing just a year or 2 earlier. Now we are playing showcase tournaments with a list of college coaches in attendance, but they are still crazy in my opinion. The best thing I ever did for her older brother was to step back and let the coaches take over. These parents are all second guessing the coach and embarassing themselves on the sidelines. A couple of them I wouldn't recruit if I was a college coach listening to their parents on the sideline. We apparently have a bunch of D1 level coaches as parents, because they all know the game better than the team coach who actually has 10+ years of college coaching experience.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,856 Senior Member
    so @dadof4kids sports DID get your kids to where they wanted to be and they could have had scholarships if they wanted them but chose to use it as a hook.
  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids Registered User Posts: 639 Member
    @twoinanddone sports absolutely landed S19 where he wanted to be. It is the rare school that is an academic powerhouse and a powerhouse in his sport. For reasons that are somewhat personal to his situation and well beyond the scope of this discussion, the coaches there probably give him the best chance for a shot at the Olympics down the road. Neither one of us could have hoped for better. Plus the finances work. It would probably be cheaper if he took a scholarship, but it was in the ballpark so we were fortunate enough to not have the money be a deciding factor.

    But I think he is an outlier.

    Far more people I think are in his sister's boat. D21 would love for soccer to get her into Amherst or Williams (or Stanford or Georgetown if we are being really greedy), but it just isn't in the cards. She could maybe get a 25% scholarship to a school I could afford anyway and that she doesn't want to go to. After 10 years of commitment to soccer that's probably about it.

    I was talking to a diver's dad a week ago. His S19 got a scholarship to the state flagship one state over. I didn't ask how much, but I do know that it is still more expensive than the in-state tuition he would pay if he went to our state flagship instead. Plus he is probably smart enough he would have qualified for at least a 50% tuition reduction at the in state. For kids who make it at all, that's probably more typical. Fortunately for the kid, the dad is an orthopedic surgeon, so he doesn't mind paying an extra $10,000+ a year to send him to the better fit school where he can still dive. Most families don't have the luxury of a $50,000 difference in the total cost being more of an annoyance than a deciding factor.

    I could list a dozen more stories of kids and parents who thought at 10 or 15 or even 18 thought a scholarship would pay for their school but it never materialized. At least D21 and I understand the situation and went into it with our eyes open. I think that is less common than it should be.
  • mamommamom Registered User Posts: 3,664 Senior Member
    edited May 26
    @dadof4kids Your kids seems to have done well. I am a bit concerned though about your comment <Title IX has been brutal to men's sports outside of football.>

    You have both S and D playing sports. Now, that colleges are obliged to fund both mens and womens sports equally, why is title IX brutal to mens sports? I had a S who decided to not play in college and ended up with a full tuition scholarship, and a D who, imo, was also smart enough for a merit scholarship, but because she is a D3 recruited athlete, got nothing. She would have been better off money wise applying ED1 without coaches support. WIth coaches support they knew she was attending, no need to offer $$.

    Regardless, I do not feel any sympathy for the D1 and D2 mens athletes who feel slighted because less money is offered due to Title IX. I follow on twitter the recruitment threads and see what the GPA and SAT/ACT score of some of these "student athletes" are. I do not know how they get admitted. Title IX has nothing to do with these kids not getting admitted or scholarships.
  • GKUnionGKUnion Registered User Posts: 86 Junior Member
    @mamom I don’t presume to speak for @dadof4kids but I can tell you that my alma mater eliminated the D1 sport I competed in to meet Title IX requirements.
  • Ohiodad51Ohiodad51 Forum Champion Athletic Recruits Posts: 2,477 Forum Champion
    Title IX has inarguably improved opportunities for women who have the ability and the desire to compete collegiately. I think that is inarguable. At the same time, it is inarguably true that football, which pays the bills for all the rest of collegiate sports, has a hugely distorting impact on colleges’ ability to fund and even support men’s teams in other sports. For that reason, male athletes who are not football players are at a significant diasadvantage in finding scholarship opportunities in college vis similarly situated female athletes. This too is inarguable.

    As far as the academic merit of kids playing big time BCS football (or to a lesser extent men’s D1 basketball), the difference in socio economic status between their average football recruit and the average swimmer, why they are brought in to the school, the time they are required to commit and the pressure they are under compared to virtually all other athletes in the non revenue sports, men and women, is so great as to make the comparison almost meaningless. But before we start castigating those kids for their poor SAT scores, we should at least acknowledge that without those kids there would be no money at all for field hockey, fencing or lacrosse.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,856 Senior Member
    But before we start castigating those kids for their poor SAT scores, we should at least acknowledge that without those kids there would be no money at all for field hockey, fencing or lacrosse.

    Agree, but only at the big schools. At most schools, the football and basketball teams are just as big a drain on the athletic budget as the women's soccer team.

    My daughter played on the lacrosse team at a smaller D2 school that does have football. I really doubt the football team is bringing in revenue. However, I think title IX brought a lot to this schools. It is a STEM school and still more than 70% male. Many of those 30% women are there because of the sports. My daughter was able to go to the school because she got an athletic scholarship which made it affordable. My daughter would have picked a different school if this one didn't have lacrosse so they needed something to attract women and found it in sports. Other engineering schools attract the women by giving scholarship money (WPI, Embry-Riddle). Some school invite sororities to open chapters.

    I think schools aren't just dropping men's sports to pick up women's sports, but dropping both because they can't afford to have the teams at all. Cal dropped 5 sports about 8 years ago, including baseball and women's lax. There was an uproar about women's lacrosse and it was reinstated (never really dropped). At the time, there were only a few Women's D1 teams on the west coast so the travel costs were really high. Since then, the Pac 12 has more teams and the travel isn't as bad. Things change. Most men's teams cost more to run. The team is bigger, they eat more, travel costs more, uniforms cost more. If a school offers 10 men's sports so have 150 athletes, the school might have to offer 13 women's teams to get to that 150 athlete level (assuming the school has a 50/50 split of students). Same number of spots for men as women.

    Yes, it is sad for a male athlete who doesn't want to be on the football team if that team is taking up X number of the male spots, but really no different than the female who wants to be on the hockey team at a school that doesn't have one. I still think Title IX did wonderful things for higher education (the Dear Colleague letter notwithstanding).
  • anon145anon145 Registered User Posts: 615 Member
    edited May 26
    if you start chasing title 9 the logical question is why have any sport that loses money; which would leave out most sports both men and woman at pretty much every school. So, once you expand to more than FBS football fro top 20 programs and top 50 basketball on the men's side, you have not much further logically to go to include women's sports - since all olympic sports lose money. Only 24 programs in D1,2,3 do not lose money. Why not just have FBS football, Men's bball and enough women's sports to balance out scholarships?


    Of course the better question is why have sports at all as varsity sports in college and not just club.. but that is another topic I've never seen a great answer for. Certainly none of the universities in Europe, china, or canada need them..
  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids Registered User Posts: 639 Member
    I just looked at a paper published by the NCAA that among other things showed numbers of college sport programs cancelled in the last 30 years. For women, rifle was sport most likely to be cut at a D1 school, getting cut 54 times in the last 30 years. Men had 10 different sports that had triple digits. Some sports had over 300 programs cut, many over 200.

    The average football team has 109 players. I believe 85 on scholarship at the top level. That's a lot of spots and scholarships to fill to make it equal. The easier thing to do is just cut men's programs. Wrestling is almost non-existent at the SEC and PAC12 schools. That didn't used to be the case. Men's gymnastics was pretty much killed off entirely.

    I am happy to see the women's programs supported, but think football programs, at least ones who are self funding, should not be part of the equation.

    As was pointed out earlier, my family is not negatively affected by this. One S still got a spot and is headed to a no scholarship school, the other S isn't an athlete. Who knows, maybe my D mentioned above or her little sister gets better and ends up playing somewhere. I couldn't go to her tourney this weekend, but apparently she played out of her mind and got moved to starter mid tourney over a teammate who is playing in college next year.

    But I stand by what I said, if you are a non football playing athlete, your odds of finding a roster spot and a scholarship are much better if you are female than male.
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