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An athletic scholarship is not enough

There is a gap between what the athletic scholarship in the U.S. provides and what the actual cost of college attendance usually demands. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the school of Division I football player Dominic Sylvester, that gap is about $3,000.

Sylvester’s tuition, books, dorm room and meal plan are paid for with his athletic scholarship, which is worth between $26,000 and $28,000. But there are many other miscellaneous expenses this and many other athletes have, that is the cause of constant struggle. College athletes need pay to cover the basic costs of their living. Sylvester, for example, is miserly when it comes to his pair of dress shoes.

“A good pair of shoes for me, which are hard to find because of my size, can cost $150,” said Sylvester, an accounting major, who is 6 feet 4, 315 pounds. “You make them last and last. I don’t have a lot of extra money to buy new ones. I’ve burned the rubber out. They don’t have holes in them, but they are getting there.”

Like many Division I football and basketball players, Sylvester can’t rely much on monetary help from home. Their income is about $50,000 a year – his mother works for the county social services office, and his dad is unemployed with a medical disability. He could use the money from a stipend of several thousand dollars many Division I athletic directors, football and basketball coaches want to add to an athletic scholarship. Unfortunately, others do not agree with this concept, because they insist their departments cannot handle the extra expense.

“Being from out of state, I had about $1,100 in travel expenses last year. Even getting the Pell Grant, there is not a lot of money left over, say, if you need a new pair of shoes or a suit for special occasions, or even to go bowling.”

The Pell is a need-based grant, provided by the federal government. Sylvester receives $2,250 a semester in Pell Grant funds. But not all students in need are eligible for a Pell Grant. Chris Conley, the Southeastern Conference student-athlete advisory representative to the NCAA, is one of those caught in the middle between family income and the threshold to qualify for a grant.

The only solution in this situation seems to be a part-time job. But with studying and training, it can be challenging. “When a coach is concerned about job security and a school wants to win a championship,” said Conley, “if it is a large-revenue sport, you are pushed to put more time into the athletic side of things, and it doesn’t shorten the amount of time you have to spend on school. You are putting extra hours in the film room, extra hours in the weight room, extra hours getting treatment.”

Conley’s father is retired from the Air Force, and his mother is a teacher of English as a second language. Sometimes he doesn’t have enough money for gas to drive home two hours and will not bother his parents about it. Some of his teammates also stay at school for months because of the expense of travel.

Sylvester has the same issues. He has three weeks off in May and wants to fly home to New York to see his family. He has to be back to school on June 1 for “voluntary” off-season workouts but also has to return home once again the weekend of June 14 when his brother graduates from high school. “I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “I need to be there for him, so I need to figure out the money.”

There is a chance for SportyCo to fill the gap between the athletic scholarship the actual cost of college attendance. With our crowdfunding platform athletes could raise needed funds to cover basic expenses and focus merely on their career. It could help them pass through college easier and achieve their sport career goals much faster.

Sources: Aljazeera America

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