29 Jan

Don’t Count on Athletic Scholarships: Northeastern Cuts its Football Team

As college budgets flounder in the recovering economy, we’ve seen colleges make cuts in some very unexpected places – including freezing staff and faculty salaries and decreasing their benefits. Now it seems schools are moving into the student activity danger zone.

Down, Set, Take a Hike

In an effort to reallocate smaller budgets, many colleges have trimmed their student athletic programs; but none have received quite as much attention as Northeastern University, which recently announced that it was eliminating it’s entire football program.

Though the team has reportedly been playing for nearly 75 years, school officials felt the money would be better spent focusing on building leadership in the student body.

Shaky Ground for Athletic Scholarships?

While Northeastern has promised to honor the athletic scholarships awarded to their current football team, their move to cut such a prominent sport suggests that students should not count on athletic scholarships alone to cover college costs.

With purse strings tightening on scholarship and grant funding at many private schools, administrators may be more likely to decrease these athletic offerings and focus more on academic-based scholarships (which may translate into a better payback in the form of alumni donations from these students in the future.)

The brass ring of the full-ride athletic scholarship may be harder than ever to reach.

Keep Your Options Open

If your student is hoping to win an athletic scholarship, you’ll find that now more than ever students will need to get themselves noticed. And this means not just by playing well, but by building a relationship with coaches at not only their top-choice colleges, but at dozens (yes dozens!) more. Coaches will be looking for strong academics first and athletic abilities second. The student-athletes that are accomplished in both areas are most desirable. Athletic skills will be judged according to the level of play at a particular school.

Unless your child is a blue-chip athlete, if you and your child are hoping for a significant athletic scholarship you must understand that THE COLLEGE WILL CHOOSE YOUR CHILD, not the other way around. Your child must contact 50 to 100 colleges to find a few that will make an offer.
As your child strives for an athletic scholarship, however, I would encourage you not to put all your eggs in one basket. Now is the time to focus on alternate ways to cover college costs. This may be as simple as working on finding private scholarships your child is more likely to win, or learning how to get a tuition discount.

I also encourage my client families to take a close look at their cash flow. I’ve shared some great ideas about how to increase your family’s cash flow to pay for college in the posts Finding Money for College in Unexpected Places and 5 More Easy & Unexpected Ways to Find Money for College.

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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2 Responses to “Don’t Count on Athletic Scholarships: Northeastern Cuts its Football Team”

  1. 1
    pragmaticmom Says:

    I agree that you can’t count on your child winning a scholarship, athletic or otherwise, as a strategy to pay for college. But if your child is a good athlete, it’s a full time job, very similar to a successful job search process, to land an athletic scholarship. I blog on the step by step process at http://pragmaticmom.com. See entry: How To Get An Athletic Scholarship. My neighbor is a varsity coach at Boston College with 16 scholarships. This is the presentation that he gives to prospective candidates. Note that the process starts as a Freshman in High School, but parents should read this when their child is in Middle School!!!

    Pragmatic Mom

  2. 2
    Pay for College Blog » Blog Archive » Dartmouth’s Free-for-All Tuition Plan Scrapped Says:

    […] have been fighting hard to keep their costs down and their attendance numbers steady. They have cut sports teams, made training and staff cuts, cut benefits to remaining staff, and put building projects on hold, […]

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