When new legislation takes effect next month for the five autonomy conferences in Division I, student-athletes will be able to receive scholarships that fund up to the federally defined full cost of attendance, which varies from school to school. But that benefit also means they will need to manage sums of money beyond what many of them are accustomed to handling.
So the Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has started developing a standardized program to teach athletes how to be fiscally responsible. “This isn’t just about helping them get through college, but helping them get ahead in life,” said SAAC chair Kendall Spencer, a former track athlete at the University of New Mexico.
The fully developed program, culling parts of several programs already in use in Division I, will be presented to SAAC for approval at its July meeting and will focus on the following areas:
Budgeting and saving
Having extra money doesn’t mean you can buy a new pair of headphones, Spencer says. So SAAC wants athletes to understand how to wisely plan for anticipated expenses. “If we’re successful at teaching our student-athletes how to budget,” Spencer says, “everything else will fall into place.”
Unless parents teach their kids, or unless specific classes are available, college athletes may not know the basics about taxes. But as more money becomes available, SAAC wants athletes to understand their liability, the fundamentals of filing and what to expect from an annual tax return – or what to do if they owe.
Some student-athletes have never had their own bank account by the time they enter college. But with extra scholarship funds, they’ll need to know the basics of making deposits, balancing checkbooks and the penalties that can come from not managing their accounts properly.
Tempting credit card offers often greet college students when they arrive on campus. But many don’t understand how they work, or how to use them responsibly. “That system is an important part of maturing as an adult,” Spencer said. “I’ve seen many student-athletes … get taken advantage of because they think this is free money.”
Money isn’t just for spending, and SAAC wants to open student-athletes’ eyes to the complexities of smart money management so they will grasp the advantages of saving and investing before they leave college. “It’s not just letting people know how much money is out there up for grabs,” Spencer said, “but letting them know how they can make their money work for them.”