Do "Full" Athletic Scholarships at Division I Schools Really Cover the Cost of Attendance?

Released: 3/31/2009 11:20 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Ithaca College
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Newswise — The answer is no, according to a study by the National College Players Association (NCPA). Released on March 26, the findings reveal estimated shortfalls between college athletes' full scholarships and the actual cost of attendance at Division I universities.

"The mythology that college athletes receive a free education in exchange for their athletic labor is a powerful one, fueled in part by a public perception that athletes have an easy path to being admitted into college and a privileged path through school once in," said Ellen Staurowsky, professor and chair of the graduate sport management and media program at Ithaca College. "The database we've compiled begins to debunk this myth and serves as an important public disclosure mechanism to aid athletes as they consider their scholarship offers. Athletes and their families should know that this gap exists and that their expenses will be greater than the promise a free ride suggests."

Staurowsky partnered with NCPA in the study, which calculates the estimated scholarship shortfall at every Division I university that offers athletic scholarships. The data in the NCPA study revealed that NCAA scholarship limitations can leave a full-scholarship athlete with expenses ranging from $200 a year to more than $6,000 per year. The average amount an athlete on "full scholarship" would be required to pay out of pocket amounted to $2,763 per year, or more than $13,800 over the course of five years.

"It's deceptive to call it a 'full' athletic scholarship when it doesn't fully pay for a university's estimated price tag," said NCPA President Ramogi Huma. "These same universities offer 'full' academic scholarships that do cover the price tag of a school. This appears to be a deliberate attempt at misleading young high school student-athletes, their parents and current college athletes."

Shortfall estimates are the sum of expenses that cannot be covered in a full grant-in-aid athletic scholarship in accordance with NCAA rules. The data used to calculate shortfall numbers was taken from information published by the schools in the study as well as information made available by the U.S. Department of Education. According to the NCPA, actual shortfall numbers will vary according to each individual student.

The estimated scholarship shortfalls reported in the NCPA study for all 336 Division I is available at the www.ncpanow.org.

An authority on gender equity, Title IX, and equal employment opportunity issues that apply to college sport, Ellen Staurowsky is also an expert on the exploitation of athletes, representation of women in sport media, and the misappropriation of American Indian imagery in sport. She has written numerous articles on these topics for publications such as Marquette Sports Law Review, Chronicle of Higher Education and Street & Smith's SportBusiness Journal. Her profile can be viewed at www.ithaca.edu/news/experts2.php?experts_info_id=51

A former UCLA linebacker, Ramogi Huma founded the National College Players Association (NCPA) to protect the rights and basic protections of college athletes. The NCPA has been featured on "60 Minutes," ABC's "World News Tonight," CNN, ESPN and Fox Sports as well as "Sports Illustrated," the "Wall Street Journal," and "Chronicle of Higher Education."


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