Are “Debt-Free” Promises From Colleges Too Good To Be True?

Are “Debt-Free” Promises From Colleges Too Good To Be True?

Soccer scholarships are very rarely “full-rides,” and none of the hundreds of NCAA DIII soccer programs offer athletic scholarships. Ivy League schools, as well, do not offer athletic scholarships. This leaves many families of hopeful college soccer athletes wondering how to afford college.

A few years ago, a new trend began emerging. Several universities, like Princeton of the Ivy League, announced a new commitment to their students: All students could graduate debt-free. The rest of the Ivy League schools quickly followed suit to remain competitive with the trail-blazing Princeton, as well as many schools across the country. You can see a list of these schools HERE.

These promises, at first glance, bring on sighs of relief from many parents. But upon closer review, these “no loans” promises lose a bit of their appeal. Harvard, for example, has a “no loan” policy, but a quick scan down their own website reveals this caveat: “You are not expected to take out loans as part of your financial aid package. Our aid packages are designed to cover your financial need without additional borrowing. In fact, most of our students graduate debt-free. However, you may choose to pursue loans to help cover your student or family contribution.”

Translation: The school will tell a family, based on their financial aid application, how much the family can afford to pay for college. Sometimes this number is reasonable. Sometimes this number is absolutely insane for a family that is already struggling to make ends meet. This is especially true for middle-class and upper-middle-class families living in areas with high costs of living, like Southern California, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington D.C.

The school expects the family to be able to contribute that amount, and the “no loans” school promises to make up the difference with grants and scholarships. However, remember what Harvard says: you may choose to pursue loans to help cover your student or family contribution.

The bottom line is this: When you are going through your recruiting journey, decide how much your family can put towards college and how much debt you are willing to take on to play at the school of your dreams so that you are not disappointed later when your dream school is suddenly out of reach financially. (Unless you can write a check for four years of college, and if that’s the case, why are you even reading this?)

Many people struggle with how to deal with student debts in their post-college life; they may not be aware of the helpful advice readily available to them on the internet.

If you need more guidance, enlist the help of a financial aid expert, like All Star Financial Aid, who can help families through the process.

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