The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived! The offer is on the table; leaving one final question, where do I sign? But before you purchase new pens and start practicing your signature, there are a few critical questions you need to ask. Once you know the answers, then you can make your choice!

1. What does the number mean?

Typically, a scholarship offer comes equipped with a dollar figure or a percentage. A coach may tell you that he/she is able to offer you $10,000 a year, or maybe you will be awarded 75%. While both of those figures seem pretty outstanding, it is important to ask what makes up your number:

  • Is the offer only athletic money?
  • Does the offer include loans and grants?
  • Can additional scholarships be added on top of the current offer?

You have the right to know what makes up your offer and if the offer is not clear, the only way to know is to ask.

If the coach gives you a percentage offer, be sure you know what the percentage represents. Does the number refer just to tuition or the total cost of attending school?

  • Tuition is the most basic cost of attending classes at the institution.
  • Total cost of an institution represents all of the costs of attending school including tuition, room and board, fees, textbooks, and more.

Be aware of what your offer will cover. Many institutions are not allowed to pay for a player’s room and board. Others programs are able to cover multiple aspects of the total price, but you may be in the dark if you don’t ask.

2. What is left?

You also need to find out how much is left. $10,000 may sound like a lot of money to a high school senior, but what does it cost to attend school? If the institution offering you $10,000 costs $40,000 a year, you need to determine if $10,000 is enough financial assistance for you and your family.

Do the math- $40,000-$10,000 = $30,000

How are you going to make up the difference? Can you afford that amount for 4 years?

Don’t let yourself get caught up in the offer. Make sure you understand what is left to pay!

3. Can I get more?

As we touched on in question one, the cost of higher education is far greater than just tuition. According to US News and World Report private college is averaging close to $40,000 a year, while state public schools will set you back at least $15,000 a year.  At the current rate of inflation, by 2017 these costs will be more than 20% higher than they currently are. That is an overwhelming thought for most of us.

When you are offered a scholarship, find out what else is available:

  • Am I eligible for additional financial aid?
  • What other aid is available, that can be used on top of my athletic scholarship?
  • Am I eligible for academic scholarship?

Bonus Question: Is there the opportunity for your scholarship to increase in future seasons?

Remember, no one will care as much about your athletic future as you! It is your responsibility to seek out every opportunity possible. Money will not be handed to you. It is important to know your abilities and understand your offers. If you are not realistic about the opportunities you are being afforded, you may miss your chance. Weigh your options, be realistic about your offers, and make the best decision for you and your family.

While you are thinking about an offer and debating your next move, the coach or institution are still out there recruiting. Don’t get passed up because you thought there offer wasn’t good enough for you or because you were waiting on your dream school. Ask the tough questions. Weigh your choices. Make a Commitment!

“When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it. ” -Boris Pasternak

About Suzie Hinman Locke:

As a former collegiate soccer player and current soccer coach at Butler Community College in El Dorado, KS, Hinman hopes to bring quality perspective to recruiting and college prep ideas. Hinman is preparing to launch an online educational site, college-sports-recruiting.com. Do not be deceived by the name. The goal of the site is not to help prospective student-athletes be recruited. It will focus on the issues of recruiting and aid parents, players and coaches in navigating the process from eligibility requirements to official visits. This one-stop recruiting site will hope to meet the needs of prospects for all sports and from all different backgrounds. Launching July 2013… you won’t want to miss it!