It is a common misconception that Division III colleges do not award scholarships. They simply do not offer athletic scholarships. Some parents are weary about pursuing private out-of-state Division III institutions because of the sticker price. Do not think that just because a college costs $40,000 or more per year that you can not afford to attend. The cost of college all comes down to your ultimate out of pocket cost, which is not necessarily the tuition price inside the college catalogue. Although Division III institutions do not offer athletic scholarships, there are definite avenues to receive financial assistance.
The first step is to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.org. The biggest mistake a lot of families make is not filling the FAFSA out because they think their family income is too high. This could not be further from the truth. Every family, regardless of income, has an EFC (estimated family contribution) number and the LOWER your EFC, the more aid you will receive. Even if you may not receive a significant amount of financial aid, you should still complete the FAFSA because it can act as an insurance policy for your son/daughter’s education. If there is a change or loss of income or an emergency in your family; you will not be eligible for college funds if you do not complete the FAFSA on an annual basis.
The first date you may submit the FAFSA is January 1 of senior year. Submit the FAFSAS on this date or as soon after as possible! University financial aid budgets are limited and are awarded on a first come first serve basis, so the earlier you submit your FAFSA, the better your chances of receiving aid. Each college/university has a specific deadline and at a certain point, the money does run out.
Colleges have “pots,” so to speak, of money they can dip into for students that qualify (especially athletes). These “pots” are not listed in brochures, and therefore a lot of families do not realize they exist. For example, some colleges have pots that the financial aid staff can dip into for students who are “journalism majors from Wisconsin,” or for students who have a “3.75 GPA and 1100 SAT and want to major in physical therapy.”
Ask the coaching staff and admissions office what avenues are available to build an obtainable financial package. Here are some key points to discuss and ask what, if any of these you can apply for:
- Academic based scholarships – Are you eligible based on your GPA and test scores.
- Title IV Funds – These are federal funds such as loans, work study.
- Grants – These are state, federal or university based funds that a student is not required to pay back.
It is amazing the money that comes out of the woodwork when student-athletes are pro-active!