Understanding Financial Aid Packages

It is important for students and their parents to understand how financial aid works for student-athletes.  Each NCAA Division level is governed by its own set of rules.  During the recruiting process, college coaches may ask for CSS Profiles/FAFSA before offering athletic scholarships.  Below is a brief summary of the main differences and a link to more detailed information from the NCAA. 

Athletic Scholarships:  Athletic scholarships are awarded by institution based on the merit of the performance of the individual.  All Division I and II soccer programs are classified as "equivalency" sports, meaning that the NCAA restricts the total financial aid that a school can offer in a given sport to the equivalent of a set number of full scholarships.   

Division I:  Soccer teams can separate the scholarship awards between the roster up and till a maximum of 9.9 for the men and 14.0 for the women.  Coaches are allowed to award anywhere from 1%-100% for any individual student-athlete.  

Division II:  Soccer teams can separate the scholarship awards between the roster up and till a maximum of 9.0 for the men and 9.9 for the women.  Coaches are allowed to award anywhere from 1%-100% for any individual student-athlete.   

Division III:  The NCAA limits Division III teams to no athletic scholarships.  If you qualify for merit or need-based aid, you can qualify for financial aid.  The NCAA also require Div. III schools to show how much aid they give to athletes on sports teams. 

Need-Based Aid
Student need-based aid is related to the need of the family after completing either the CSS Profile and/or FAFSA forms.   Need-based aid is awarded on the student/family financial need.  When financial aid is determined through need-based aid, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined.  Universities will work towards maximizing this aid gap.  It has often been noted that filling this financial gap, is maximized when the student has higher SAT or ACT scores.

Merit-Based Aid
Merit-based scholarships and grants are awards from educational institutions and organizations.  This aid usually comes from outstanding academic achievements in high schools grades and/or outstanding SAT or ACT scores.  Sometimes merit-based aid is awarded to students by such organizations as local club, Boy Scouts, YMCA etc.  Merit-based grants do not need to be repaid.  Athletic based scholarships are also a form of merit-based aid.

How are athletic scholarships combined with need-based and merit-based aid?  
It is possible at Division I and II schools to combine merit-based aid with athletic scholarships up to the need-based financial aid eligibility limit.  There are some limitations with combining need-based aid with athletic scholarships. 

For more information, visit NCAA's Scholarship page.

Making the most of your college visits

College visits, both official and unofficial, are important to finding out if a school is the best fit for you. Although soccer will be a massive part of your four years, there are other factors in making sure a school is the right one. If you suffer a long term injury or an injury that rules you out from playing soccer completely, would you still want to go to this school? Keep this question in mind during the duration of your recruiting process, but especially on a visit.

If you’re able to meet players on the team during your visit, it’s important to see if you gel with them.  Find out about the team culture. Some teams can be more laid back while others can be more intense. No one team culture is necessarily better than another, but consider if they atmosphere would work for you.

Make sure to find time to watch a game preferably or even a practice while you are on campus.  Does their style of play suit you? Is the coaching style right for you? Is the team lacking in the position or positions that you play? All of these are good questions to ask yourself if you get this opportunity.

The layout of the campus can also be a good indicator of whether or not you will enjoy your time at the school. College visits are a great chance to truly visualize yourself actually going to class at that school and hanging out in the dorms. Make sure to checkout the freshmen dorms.  For some students, your living accommodations can be a difference maker between schools.

If class size is something that matters to you, take the option to sit in on a class, either on your own or with one of the players from the team.  Class size will differ across programs so consider meeting with your preferred program and asking detailed questions about classes.  Getting a good feel of how classes and the environment should be part of your decision making process.

Each college will have a different vibe to it’s campus.  The right school is out there for you so take time on your visits and remember this can be a fun process.

Hydration: Why is it important for performance?

Don't wait to hydrate until your feel thirsty!  If your thirst mechanism is triggered, you are already showing signs of dehydration.  Optimize your sports performance by following a hydration plan and make adjusts based on factors such as weather and exertion. 

Dehydration can lead to:

·      ↓ Muscle Strength

·      ↓ Speed and Stamina

·      ↓ Energy

·      ↑ Risk for injury

Avoiding all these negative effects can be the difference between winning, losing and staying healthy. Therefore, it is vital to rehydrate before, during and after practicing or playing games. 

When should I rehydrate?
Before workouts:

·      Close to practice/competition you should be consuming liquid calories, such as, Sports drinks

·      2-3 hours before training, consume 17 ounces of fluids

·      8oz (1cup) immediately prior to competition or practice

During workouts:

·      2-4 cups (16-32oz) of sports drinks per hour (ideally) or

·      1 cup (8oz) every 15-20mins

·      If the practice or competition is longer than an hour try to consume carbohydrates as you hydrate

o   Sports drinks are the ideal method rather than trying to eat foods

Post-Workouts:

·      Aim to start hydrating immediately after practice/competition or at least within 30 minutes post-practice/competition

·      Consume at least 24oz for every pound lost from training or exercise.
 

Over hydration

·      The recommendations above are guidelines and should be used as such. Each individual will be different

·      To avoid over hydration do not drink more than you sweat

·      Try to drink sports drinks because they contain some sodium and carbohydrates

 

Sources: Boston University Sargent Choice Nutrition Center: Nutrition Advisers for Boston University Men’s Soccer.

Villanova University Nutrition Center- http://www1.villanova.edu/content/dam/villanova/studentlife/documents/healthpromotion/Hydration%20guideline%20for%20athletes.pdf

Ways to get ahead on the recruiting curve

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Recruiting is a fierce competition, both from an athlete’s perspective and a coaches perspective. Everyone is always looking for ways to get an edge and standout. Chances are, if you’re not the next up and coming superstar, you’re among the horde of student-athletes trying to get the attention of the coaches at your desired school. Here’s a few ways to stand out from the pack.

  1. Reach out as early as possible
    Reaching out via email or phone can help put you on a coaches radar even if you do so as a freshman. The coach may not respond or show any reaction to the initial time you reach out, but if you build up a year or two of communication, your name will be hard to forget. Now this doesn’t mean contacting the coach every week, because that looks desperate and can be annoying. But reaching out every few months or so is a good start.

  2. Being Prompt in responding
    If you’re fortunate to have the coaches you’re interested in return that interest, it’s always best to respond as quickly and thoroughly as possible. There’s no benefit in keeping a coach waiting unless you don’t immediately have the answer to their question. And even in cases like that, a simple “I don’t currently have the answer to your question but I will let you know as soon as I figure it out” can go a long way.

  3. Be Polite
    Simply put, Coaches don’t have time for players with attitude. Showing that you’re not a problem kid and that you have good manners can go a long way.

  4. Staying on top of your grades and Admissions
    Having the GPA and test scores to get into your school or schools of choice makes Coaches a lot more likely to recruit you. If they don’t have to fight with admissions, that makes their already hectic life easier. Doing your own research into the GPA and standardized testing minimums of a school can help you select schools where you’ll be a great fit not only athletically, but academically as well.

Student-athletes: What college program is right for you?

Nationwide college graduation rates over a six year period are just over 50%.  It is especially important for you as a student-athlete to research options, know the questions to ask, and take the time to find the right fit so that you are in the graduating 50% and invest in the right athletic program from the start.  If successful, the right choice can save you money, frustration and put you on a fast-track to a successful and rewarding career path. Consider these four categories.

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Athletic Standards:  What level of play suits you?  How much college soccer have you watched, either on Fox Soccer Channel, streamed off college websites or live on a college campus?  The more college soccer you see, the better you will be informed of where you can play!  You don’t want to waste your time pursuing college soccer programs that are totally out of your reach.  Keep in mind that even within collegiate divisions, there is a lot of variation in athletic standards.  

You have to pay attention to the style of play of the school and consider how you may fit in.  Also, you have to pay attention to the recruiting class size and recruiting needs of the school.  Are they looking to play you in your preferred position or do they intend on playing you somewhere else on the field? Don’t be afraid to ask the coach of your incoming year’s recruitment class size and the program’s average retention rate of athletes.

Academics:  If you are seeking a particular major, your may severely limit your college choices.  Keep in mind that nationwide, approximately 50% of college students change majors at least once before college graduation.  Try to find a school that has several majors of potential interest. 

If you do have a major in mind, make sure to compare the prospective program to other schools.  Consider the program's reputation and record of job placement or acceptance into graduate programs.  Take the time to meet with a representative from that program.

Realistically compare your transcript to the acceptance requirements of each school.  If you are being recruited by a particular school, the athletic program may have some influence in assisting in your acceptance, but for the most part, schools have little leeway.  The special athletic "slots" are usually used on the top players being recruited by that school.  The reality is that better grades, rank, and board scores will provide you more college choices, so study hard!

Financial:  You can quite easily find what it costs to attend schools online.  If you are in contact with a prospective soccer program, they may be able to request a pre-read from admissions during your Junior year to estimate possible academic and need-based aid likely available based on your FASFA forms.  Soccer scholarships are few and far between.  Coaches have many ways of dividing money up for recruits and not all programs are the same.

The costs of a college degree are continually rising and vary greatly.  Some programs are so prestigious or have such exceptional job placement rates that they are worth the extra cost.  Others are not.  If money is a concern, evaluate the pros and cons of paying more. 

Location & Size of School:  The school location and student population may heavily influence your college choice.  Each location will offer a unique set of opportunities and experiences.  Do you want the offerings of a large city or are you more comfortable in rural environment?  What resources will you need to access (e.g. transportation, museums, prospective employers, industry and nature)?  Take the time to consider what makes you happy now, what opportunities you want in the future, and how population density and surroundings may influence your well-being.

Some students want to live in the city where there are lots of things taking place.  For instance, Boston has the largest college student populations of any city in the world, with close to 65-schools and colleges in the greater Boston area. On the opposite side of the spectrum, you may feel more at home at a school in a rural setting.   

Also, consider is the size of the student population and average class sizes within your proposed major.  You may need to break these numbers down to better understand how the size of the student population may affect you personally.  Consider the student population broken into the following categories: total school, undergraduate, by department and by major.