Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cost of Attendance Scholarships New Focus Rule Is Popular, but with Some Stipulations

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cost of Attendance Scholarships New Focus Rule Is Popular, but with Some Stipulations

Article excerpt

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. - For the first time in decades, the value of a college athletic scholarship is changing, although there are plenty of questions as to what that means and what unintended consequences it could have.

ACC athletic directors and football coaches spent time at the league's spring meetings this week discussing how to implement "cost of attendance" scholarships, which were approved by the now- autonomous Power Five conferences in January. The new rules allow for schools to offer scholarship athletes an additional cash stipend, starting this year, to cover ancillary expenses such as clothing, travel and food that might not be covered by the base scholarship.

While there's near-unanimous support for the idea of supplementing scholarships, there are concerns about discrepancies in calculating the cost of attendance figure. Each school's financial aid office sets its own number, which is based on federal guidelines. For instance, Pitt's cost of attendance figure is $3,300 per year, according to a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education last month.

"I think right now the heartburn is the disparity in dollars," incoming Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said. "What I would call sort of an arbitrary way of coming up with those numbers."

Relatively similar colleges can have wildly disparate cost of attendance figures, he said, pointing out that Penn State's ($4,788) is nearly $1,500 higher than Pitt's.

The difference, according to Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, is in context. One school might include a laptop as part of its tuition package; another might earmark $1,000 for a laptop as part of the cost of attendance package.

"If the only thing you look at is how big's the cost of attendance check, great inequities will exist," Swarbrick said. "But if you realize that that cost of attendance check is bigger or smaller depending on some of the other direct financial aid you're given, it starts to even out."

Swarbrick and Barnes said the biggest need is "standardized disclosure" about what is included in a scholarship and what is part of the cost of attendance figure. …

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