One of the things that initially scare a lot of families (especially the parents) away from Division III private schools is the initial price tag. Some of these schools cost in the range of $30,000 plus and the price tag is raising every year. With 3% inflation on top of that fee, these schools are going to only continue to get more and more expensive.
But the good news for athletes is that your ability in athletics can help you even if it is a non-scholarship school that you are looking at. This program could be at the Division III level but if they think you are good enough, they are going to find a number of different ways to help you out financially. And when buying any other big ticket item, comparing prices and getting the numbers re-worked are a great way to help lower your costs on a yearly basis.
At the Division III level, there will be no athletic scholarships handed to you once you enroll at the school. Your scholarships are normally from academics, how much your parents earn (which plays a large factor), and a number of other random areas that you can draw scholarships from.
However, if a coach at this level is competing against an NAIA school who can offer a scholarship, one would think that the Division III school would always lose out. That is definitely not the case. Most Division III colleges want their athletics to be successful. While academics is very important at their school, having strong athletic squads in a variety of different sports is a great way to boast their publicity.
Because it is important for these schools to be successful athletically, most admissions offices are willing to help out the coaches land the best athletes that they can. For example, some college coaches will give admissions a list of their top five recruits. The admissions officers will find a way to make their payment substantially lower than others who came in with the same GPA and ACT/SAT. Is that fair to the non-athlete? No, but it definitely does happen.
Look at a program like Mount Union, which boasts the top Division III football team in the country. Do you honestly think that they are not finding ways to give athletes more money to help pay for school? This is a powerhouse program that brings in transfers from throughout the country. They know how to work the system and that is a big part of their success.
A few years back I heard a story about an athlete who committed to a Division III school. He started getting cold feet about going there so he talked to a coach at an NAIA school. This NAIA school had a lot of money left and knew this kid was a player. The NAIA school ended up offering this kid nearly a full ride. Once the Division III school found out, they were not happy. But they wanted this recruit so they went to work and basically matched that package.
If you are looking at Division III schools, make sure to forward your financial aid packages onto other schools. See if these program can match it and/or beat it. Again, you may be in love with a school but the lower your burden either on your parents or in student loans will be, the better for you and your family. These non-athletic scholarship schools will find ways to help you out. It may be a leadership scholarship or something very simple that you wouldn’t even think of.
You may be serious about the Division III level but make sure you shop around and see what options are available. As I have said, it is important not to limit your choices in the college decision. And if that includes having Division III schools in the same conference lower their tuition because they want you at their school, this could be a big factor in your final decision.
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